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Part of Sleeping Bear Dunes closed over bug infestation

(CBS DETROIT) - A portion of one of Michigan's popular tourist destinations will remain closed for the summer after the discovery of an invasive insect.

Officials at the National Park Service said they have found a large infestation of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) on the southern boundary of the National Lakeshore, which stretches 35 miles long.

The bugs attack Hemlock trees, killing them within four years by sucking the nutrients from the base of the needles.  

The invasive insect has been found in large quantities along and around the Old Indian Trail.

Officials said that the area will be shut down until the fall to allow for treatment and to slow the spread of the bugs.  

Meanwhile, officials have issued the following guidelines for visitors to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, especially those coming from infested areas:

  • 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.

Sleeping Bear Dunes draws more than 1.1 million visitors each year and has eight sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

Officials said its Hemlock trees are necessary to provide food and shelter for many species of birds and mammals.

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