Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

October 28, 2022

Dan Keefe (518) 486-1868 |

Student Conservationists Lead Vast Survey for Invasive Pest at Moreau Lake State Park

Volunteers Survey Over 650 Acres for Hemlock Wooly Adelgid

In what was the largest one-day search for invasive species to date within New York State Parks, 48 volunteers and professionals from multiple organizations surveyed over 650 acres of some of the least accessible land in Moreau Lake State Park. The collaboration came together through the Hemlock Survey Like There's No To-Moreau, a service project organized by the Student Conservation Association (SCA) to better grasp the infestation extent of the invasive insect Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae), or HWA, as it threatens the park's eastern hemlocks (Tsuga Canadensis).. With 886 trees surveyed, a previously unknown infestation of HWA was discovered deep within the park and the additional data collected provided more accurate mapping of known infestation locations.

"People often visit New York State Parks to escape into nature and experience our State's natural wonders. It is part of our mission to protect these natural communities for generations to come. Part of that is by working closely with our existing partners and fostering the next generation of environmental stewards," said Ron Rausch, State Parks' Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Stewardship

SCA Hudson Valley Corps members Jordan Hayes, Nick Ventre, and Daniel Fleischman spearheaded coordination of the event with support from State Parks Environmental Stewardship and SCA Hudson Valley staff. The Sept. 12 event commemorated Patriot's Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance.

During the survey, small teams of SCA members were paired with professionals from State Parks, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Capital Region Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) to collect forestry data on hemlock stands, survey for HWA, and have meaningful interactions with established professionals in the environmental field.  Participants' search for HWA was made more challenging due to an individual HWA insect being approximately a millimeter in length, the size of a pencil tip, at the time of surveying. SCA members were able to further their professional development by attending trainings led by the United States Geological Services (USGS) and State Parks Stewardship staff. HWA has been known to devastate whole forests of eastern hemlock — the third most common tree in New York — since its introduction into the eastern United States in the 1950s. Moreau Lake State Park sits near the northern bound of the current yet expanding range of HWA.

"This effort has provided us with invaluable information about the extent of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid currently in the park. The information we've gathered has helped us understand the health of the hemlock forest and will inform our plans to combat threats in the future," said Casey Holzworth, Natural Resource Steward for State Parks' Saratoga-Capital District Region. "We're deeply grateful for the SCA and professional partners for the role they've played in this project."

"The Student Conservation Association's Hudson Valley Corps program has enjoyed over 23 years of partnership with New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. As a result, hundreds of young adults have served the local parks and public lands in the Hudson Valley region. The Hemlock Survey project was a great representation of multiple agencies and organizations collaborating to accomplish a lot of work in a short period of time. SCA/AmeriCorps members Daniel, Nick, and Jordan worked tirelessly to coordinate the efforts of multiple agencies, which resulted in a meaningful, high-impact project in honor of Patriot Day of Remembrance," said Libby Young, Manager of SCA NY AmeriCorps and NYS Parks Corps.

The Student Conservation Association, the national leader in youth service and stewardship, created the SCA Hudson Valley Corps in 1999 to serve the conservation needs of the region through a joint partnership with New York State Parks, DEC, regional non-profits, and land management agencies. SCA is a nationwide conservation force of college and high school volunteers who protect and restore America's parks, forests, and other public lands. Since 1957, SCA's active, hands-on practice of conservation has helped to develop a new generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship. To learn more, visit

AmeriCorps is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for service and volunteering. CNCS annually engages more than five million citizens in service at more than 60,000 locations in 8,500 cities across the country through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and other programs. National service participants address the most pressing challenges facing our cities and nation, from educating students for the jobs of the 21st century and supporting veterans and military families to preserving the environment and helping communities recover from natural disasters.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which in 2021 were visited by record 78.4 million people. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit www.parks.ny.govdownload the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518.474.0456. Also, connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.