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Blight ravages the western hemlock, Washinton's state tree

GRANITE FALLS — There’s a killer out there.

It’s stalking forests, searching for its preferred prey: western hemlocks.

When it strikes, as it has with increasing frequency, the tree’s demise can be swift. The needles typically die off in a certain sequence.

Jim and Judy Davis have seen the blight hit the 25 acres of forest they own in the Granite Falls area. Jim, a semi-retired executive coach, and Judy, a sculptor, have witnessed big changes since they moved there about two and a half years ago.

“At first, it was like, ‘Oh, this branch is dead.’ Then it was ‘That branch is dead,’” Judy Davis said. “It was like a stepladder going up the tree.”

“In a year and a half — bam!” Jim Davis said.

She describes a ghost-like stand of hemlocks “that looks like something out of ‘The Walking Dead.’ ”

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Monday, June 3, 2019