Wild Excellence Films

Cathedral: The Fight to Save the Ancient Hemlocks of Cook Forest

Cook Forest State Park, Pennsylvania

Cathedral tells the story of the efforts to save the hemlock trees of Cook Forest State Park, Pennsylvania, which are under attack by the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), a destructive insect that has already killed thousands of trees in the eastern United States. Hemlock Woolly Adelgid was discovered in Cook Forest in 2013.

The documentary includes interviews with park staff and is narrated by Old-Growth Forest Network founder Joan Maloof. The film takes the viewer on a journey through the forest in all seasons and shows the important work being done by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry.

Cathedral talks about the history of Cook Forest State Park, which is a registered National Natural Landmark, and explains how the hemlock tree is a keystone species, influencing everything from water temperature to bird populations. 

Cook Forest is home to the one of the last, best remaining stands of old-growth forest in the United States, and is considered by many to contain the best remaining old-growth hemlock. Record trees include the Seneca Hemlock, the tallest in the northeastern United States at 147.6 feet, and the Susquehannock Hemlock, which has the largest overall dimensions. 

The filmmakers’ goal is to raise awareness about what's happening in Cook Forest State Park and to inspire the viewer to help. The fight against HWA will be long and costly, and the public needs to stay engaged in order for the battle to be won. 

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