Great Lakes Basin Forest Health Collaborative

Our forests are in trouble.

Invasive insects and diseases threaten critical species like ash, beech, and hemlock, especially in the Great Lakes Basin. But some trees appear to be resistant to the pests, suggesting that widespread breeding and replanting efforts could help protect these important trees.

That’s why we launched the Great Lakes Basin Forest Health Collaborative. We’re here to connect efforts across federal agencies, conservation groups, researchers, and members of the public who are working together to save our trees. By finding trees resistant to these threats, we can breed and replant pest-resistant trees that will ensure the sustainability of our forests for the future.

Our mission | Our trees | Get involved | Workshops | About us | Resources

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Our mission

The GLB FHC supports a network of partners in tree resistance breeding activities for forest species that are threatened by invasive insects and diseases. We serve as liaison between research facilities, agencies, organizations, and members of the public, providing training and resources to help these groups reach our common goal: sustainable forests.

Breeding trees takes time and space, but it’s worth the effort to create pest-resistant trees that are locally adapted. To make this happen, our goal is to facilitate efforts of anyone interested in:

  • Monitoring ash, American beech, and eastern hemlock trees
  • Monitoring the spread of insects and disease
  • Locating potentially resistant individuals
  • Collecting and storing seeds and scions (cuttings)
  • Germinating and/or grafting trees
  • Planting trees for research

Our trees

Ash (Fraxinus spp.)

Ash trees were once widespread throughout the central and eastern United States. In 2002, the emerald ash borer was first discovered in Michigan, an Asian beetle whose larvae eat the inner bark of ash trees. Hundreds of millions of ash trees have been killed by the beetle since, decimating forests.

Read more about ash trees

Watch our Webinar:
Breeding for EAB Resistance: What Does the Future Look Like for Ash Trees?

Watch our Webinar:
Lingering Ash Training

American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)

American beech trees live across the eastern U.S., and are especially abundant in the beech-maple forests of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. The first documented case of beech bark disease in the U.S. was in Massachusetts in 1929. And in 2012, beech leaf disease was first discovered in Ohio, caused by a nematode that damages leaves.

Read more about beech trees

Read more about beech leaf disease

Read more about research on beech leaf disease

Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

The eastern hemlock is widespread across New England, Appalachia, and the upper Midwest. The coniferous trees are threatened by infestations of the hemlock woolly adelgid, a tiny aphid-like bug that sucks the sap out of hemlocks and spruce, and the elongate hemlock scale, a tiny scale insect that can kill hemlock needles. First found in Virginia in 1951, many areas have seen over 80% tree death due to the wooly adelgid, but it can take anywhere from 2 to 20 years for an infected hemlock to die.

Read more about hemlock trees

Get involved

We need members of the public to report sightings of beech, ash, and hemlock trees near them. We are particularly interested in trees that appear relatively healthy in otherwise infested areas — but all sightings of these tree species help researchers. Report  your observations through the free TreeSnap app — download it today!

We’re also looking for organizations and individuals who are interested in assisting with:

  • Monitoring forests for pest and disease progression,
  • Reporting healthy trees from infested locations,
  • Collecting scion and seed using best practices,
  • Grafting and propagation,
  • Providing greenhouse space, and/or
  • Providing properties for planting trials (open space that can be fenced and mowed is ideal).

If you are interested in any of the above, please contact Rachel Kappler at for more information about becoming a partner.


The GLB FHC offers online training webinars and, when possible, in-person field workshops for our partners in Great Lakes states. These workshops can be done individually or combine multiple topics, and are free to partners. Contact us if you are interested in setting up a workshop for your organization!

Here are some of the workshops we currently offer:

  • Forest monitoring plot set-up: Procedures on how to set up and collect data in ash, beech, and/or hemlock forested areas. Make the most of your monitoring efforts by using the same methods as the U.S. Forest Service, so your survey data are comparable to that of others across the country.
  • Emerald ash borer trapping: Procedures on how to set up traps and collect data on EAB presence.
  • Tree identification & surveys: How to identify hemlock, beech, and/or the five main ash species and what to look for in trees to determine if they are healthy or diseased. How to conduct forest surveys and submit observations using apps or paper forms.
  • Reporting trees using phone apps: How to identify beech, hemlock, and/or the five main ash species. How to choose and use an app for reporting trees of concern or lingering ash.
  • Seed collection and germination: How to properly collect, store, stratify, and germinate ash, beech, and/or hemlock seeds.
  • Collection for vegetative propagation: How to collect ash, beech, and/or hemlock tree samples to be used for vegetative propagation. How to perform hot callus grafting, bud grafting, and rooted cuttings, as well as best greenhouse practices for growing the trees.
  • Establishing plantings for clone banks or progeny tests on partner properties: How to set up your own clone bank on your property or how to set up U.S. Forest Service progeny tests on your property.

Recorded Webinars (more to come!):

About us

The GLB FHC is sponsored by Holden Forests & Gardens, American Forests, and the USDA Forest Service with funding support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Rachel Kappler, PhD, is the Forest Health Coordinator for the GLB FHC. The liaison between partners of the Collaborative, she hosts workshops, webinars, and trainings for partners to help achieve their forest health goals.

If you have any questions for Rachel, please email her at

GLB FHC’s founders are:

Holden Forests & Gardens

USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station

American Forests Cleveland, OH

Thanks to our partners (in no particular order)!


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