News Release

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Marches North - Area Closure

Subscribe RSS Icon | What is RSS
Date: March 1, 2024

EMPIRE, MI - The Old Indian Trail and surrounding area in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) is closed due to invasive hemlock woolly adelgid.

Surveys this January and February found a large infestation on the southern boundary of the National Lakeshore, along and around the area of the Old Indian Trail. This infestation has prompted an area closure to slow the spread and allow for treatment. Plans are in development to reopen the trail by the fall of 2024.

This pest can kill hemlock trees in as little as four years. The insects access the tree's nutrients at the base of the needles, starving the tree. In the fall and winter, the adelgids cover themselves with a white, waxy coating for protection that appears as wool bundles the size of a pinhead at the base of hemlock needles.

The aphid-like insect has been moving north along the Lake Michigan coastline since 2015 and is known to be present in seven Michigan Counties: Allegan, Benzie, Mason, Muskegon, Oceana, Ottawa, and Washtenaw. It spreads by wind, on wildlife, and via humans on clothing, vehicles, and by moving firewood.

Since 2018, the National Lakeshore has conducted annual winter monitoring surveys in hemlock groves throughout the park.

A small infestation in a single tree was identified and treated in the Platte River Campground in 2022.

Those visiting the National Lakeshore - especially those coming from an area with known infestations - can help slow the spread by following these recommendations:

  • Obey closures, stay on trails, and treat clothes and hiking equipment by machine drying on high heat after a hike.

  • Do not park under low hanging branches and wash vehicles often when traveling between areas in the region.

  • Learn how to identify Eastern hemlock trees and hemlock woolly adelgid.

  • Report possible sightings to the National Lakeshore or Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network.

  • Use the citizen science app MISIN (Midwest Invasive Species Network) to post location-specific photos of HWA.

Hemlock trees are common in the National Lakeshore and throughout the region. These trees provide food, shade, and cover for many species of birds and mammals. They are especially important during the spring before other plants have grown back their leaves. Eastern hemlock trees often grow around freshwater rivers and streams. In these areas, their shallow roots help to stabilize the soil and limit erosion. The shade also keeps water temperatures cool for animals like fish and aquatic invertebrates.

See alt-text in image description

NPS Map/ Varun Acharya

Map description:
This is a map defining the area closure surrounding the Old Indian Trail due to an infestation of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. The map is approximately a 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 mile area.

The top of the map is compass north. The map is defined by in blue by Lake Michigan to the north. On the east side of the map is Michabou Shores Road that runs north/south and a north/south green line that marks the Lakeshore boundary. The southern section of the map shows another area of green NPS land with M22 running north/south up the center. M22 intersects with Sutter Rd almost in the middle of the map. Sutter Road is to the west, and M22 then continues east.

This west/east section of Sutter Road and M22 mark the southern boundary of the closed area. The closed area extends west to the Lakeshore boundary, roughly 430 yards from the westernmost section of the Old Indian Trail.

The closed area extends east roughly 300 yards from the easternmost section of the Old Indian Trail.

The north boundary of the closed area extends roughly 115 yards from the northernmost section of the Old Indian Trail.

The Lake Michigan beach is not in the closed area. The closure begins roughly 350 yards south of the beach.

A map legend on the bottom left corner of the map shows a black line for the trail, a dashed symbol for the closure area, and two line graphs showing distance.

Last updated: March 1, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630


231 326-4700

Contact Us