July 3, 2008 - Georgetown, KY - Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) has awarded a $50,000 grant to the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) to support the Save Kentucky's Hemlock Project. The project is focused on saving hemlock trees that have become the target of the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, an insect that feeds on the needles of the hemlock and can cause death to the trees within three to five years.
"Impacts to this keystone species affect water quality and health downstream and everything in eastern Kentucky is downstream from hemlock groves," stated Hugh Archer, KNLT's executive director. The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is a non-native species which originated from Asia. It was found in Kentucky in 2006, when it was discovered in hemlocks in Harlan County. It has since been found in Clay, Grayson, Leslie, Letcher, Oldham, Pike, Powell, and Whitley counties. The threat to the hemlocks can be compared to the loss of the American chestnut which devastated eastern forests during the first half of the 20th century.
Kentucky Natural Lands Trust along with a diverse team of foresters, wildlife biologists, entomologists, public officials, and citizens has formed Save Kentucky's Hemlocks. The new group has received strong public support for its efforts to protect and save hemlocks from the adelgid. The group is prioritizing critical areas for treatment and has already treated more than 3,000 trees in the Pine Mountain area of southeastern Kentucky. TMMK's contribution will provide additional funds for the detection and treatment of the adelgid and for materials and resources to educate the public about the project.
The Kentucky Natural Lands Trust was formed in 1995 to protect Kentucky's most ecologically significant natural lands. This organization has actively pursued the preservation of Blanton Forest, the largest old growth forest in Kentucky and other natural areas on Pine Mountain which are ecologically significant.
TMMK is located in Georgetown, Ky., and is Toyota's largest manufacturing facility in North America employing about 7,000 team members. Initially, TMMK hired team members from 116 of Kentucky's 120 counties and continues its philosophy of giving back to the communities where its team members live. TMMK has the capacity to produce 500,000 vehicles and engines annually. Its products include the Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon and Solara as well as V6 and four-cylinder engines and engine components. Since arriving in Georgetown in 1986, TMMK has distributed more than $32 million in gifts and sponsorships across Kentucky.