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Newsdesk - 2009

The community of Point Harbor Beach became Firewise
November 24, 2009

RALEIGH – Residents of the Point Harbor Beach community in Currituck County are celebrating becoming the state's most recent member of a program that involves protecting communities from wildfires.

Point Harbor Beach is the 16th North Carolina community to become Firewise. With help from state forestry officials, residents removed dried vegetation near homes, trimmed overgrown trees to enable easier access to the community for emergency vehicles and secured a grant for dry fire hydrants that could be used if a wildfire starts. Aaron Gay, the Currituck County ranger with the N.C. Forest Service, helped educate residents on becoming Firewise.

"This is a diverse community of approximately 100 permanent homes and small weekend cottages on private, narrow sand roads, which is bordered by the Currituck Sound, a county park, a farm field and a residential area," Gay said. "It is unlike other communities in that the primary fire threat is not the surrounding forests or marshes but inside the community where a fire could easily spread to structures."

The Point Harbor Beach Community began its Firewise initiative in November 2008 by forming a task force of six interested residents, including the chairwoman Peg Bartolotta. The Forest Service, the Currituck County Fire and EMS, the Currituck County Fire Marshal, and the Lower Currituck Volunteer Fire Department conducted an assessment in March that showed there was a moderate-to-high risk of wildfire damage if a fire started in the community.

Using the assessment, the task force recommended educating homeowners about the benefits of removing yard debris and Firewise landscaping. The task force sent out literature packets, coordinated cutting back overgrown trees and shrubs along the private road network that impeded larger fire and emergency medical service vehicles, and worked with the Lower Currituck Volunteer Fire Department to secure a grant for the installation of the dry hydrants. The hydrants are expected to be installed soon. Residents have volunteered almost 300 hours.

About 50 residents from the Point Harbor Beach community in Currituck County gathered at their annual oyster roast to celebrate becoming a Firewise community last weekend. To honor them, Mike Petruncio, the district ranger with the N.C. Forest Service, presented the property owners association with a plaque and two commemorative road signs.

"Getting this community to be Firewise was a team effort," Gay said. "It included everyone from division personnel such as Gary Wood, John Willis and Mike Petruncio to the Currituck Fire Marshal James Mims, the Lower Currituck Volunteer Fire Department Chief James Moseman to the Point Harbor Beach Community task force and residents."

Future plans include additional grants for reflective address markers, constructing a gated emergency entrance, establishing a dedicated cleanup week and free confidential home assessments.

The Firewise program provides homeowners with knowledge needed to minimize damage from a wildfire if no fire suppression resources are present. Typically, a county forest ranger will help communities develop a plan for eliminating or reducing fire hazards and creating a survivable space around homes. For more information, go to or call Brian R. Haines, public information officer with the N.C. Forest Service, at (919) 857-4828.

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District forest ranger wins award from national fire agency
November 18, 2009

RALEIGH – A district ranger with the N.C. Forest Service has received an award from the National Fire Protection Association for his efforts to protect people and property from wildfires.

Mike Hardison, a district ranger in Whiteville, won a local level 2009 Firewise Leadership Award from the national association. Firewise is a national program aimed at educating people about how to protect their communities from wildfires.

"The efforts at educating the public to mitigate wildfire hazards around their homes and communities are an integral part of the jobs of all employees with the N.C. Forest Service," said Gary C. Wood, who coordinates the Firewise program for the N.C. Forest Service. "The work by Mike Hardison to educate and assist local NCFS personnel, residents, community leaders and fire service personnel on the Firewise program and concepts will allow for better protection of property from the losses and risk of wildfires."

Hardison won for his work with residents of River Run Plantation and St. James Plantation. Hardison helped residents develop plans to reduce wildfire hazards by removing downed timber and developing better access for emergency vehicles to the communities.

The state ranks fifth in the nation in the number of homes in the areas where homes are built close to or within forested areas. More than 1,400 North Carolina communities are considered to be at risk from wildfire.

The recipients of the awards were selected based on the impacts their work had at local, state and regional levels. The winners included people who encouraged homeowners to practice the Firewise strategies on their property and others who educated children about wildfire safety or enhanced emergency response coordination. The awards also recognize the most significant local efforts in forwarding the mission of NFPA's National Firewise Communities Program.

"The people and programs being honored this year are responsible for saving lives and property all across the country," said Firewise Communities Program Director Michele Steinberg. "Citizens are better protected, and they and their property are more prepared to survive a wildfire due to our winners' proactive actions and guidance."

The national Firewise Communities program encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters and others. The program is managed by the National Fire Protection Association and sponsored by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, a consortium of wildfire fighting agencies. For more information, visit

Winners came from Texas, Washington, Arkansas, Alaska, North Carolina, Montana and Idaho.

For more information, call Brian R. Haines, public information officer at (919) 857-4828.

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NC Forest Service is asking for your help with cedar seeds
November 12, 2009

RALEIGH – The N.C. Forest Service wants people to help the state's population of Eastern and Southern Red Cedars by allowing state forestry officials to gather seedlings on their property.

State forestry officials say there is a shortage of red cedar seeds needed to grow a healthy crop of the trees at its Goldsboro nursery. Forestry officials say they would prefer cedar seeds come from property on the state's coastal plain.

The Eastern Red Cedar, also called red juniper or savin, is actually a juniper and is the most widely distributed native conifer in the Eastern United States because it can grow in a variety of climate and soil conditions. It is found in every state in the Eastern United States with a range that extends as far north as Ontario and Quebec. The Eastern Red Cedar has commercial value in a limited market for specialty uses because of its beauty, durability and workability. It also provides cedarwood oil for fragrance compounds, food and shelter for wildlife, and protective vegetation for fragile soils.

There is also another variety of Eastern Red Cedar found on the Outer Banks. It is also known as Southern Red Cedar. The Southern Red Cedar is a more slender tree than the Eastern Red Cedar and has a higher tolerance for a saline environment. It grows on the coastal fringe from the Outer Banks to Texas. The windy and saline environment usually contorts the stems and limits the tree's growth to the point that the tree is of little to no value as a commercial product. However, the division is collecting seeds for the Southern Red Cedar because it controls erosion and provides wildlife habitats.

If you have Eastern or Southern Red Cedar on your property, and would like to participate in this project, please contact your local county ranger to arrange for staff members with the N.C. Forest Service to collect seeds from those trees.

The seeds will be grown at the state nursery. As the seedlings grow, they will be made available to the public. To learn more, visit or contact Brian R. Haines, the agency's public information officer, at (919) 857-4828.

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Use local firewood and keep invasive species from killing North Carolina trees
November 9, 2009

RALEIGH – North Carolina forestry officials say people should use local firewood because evidence suggests that several tree-killing insects are being carried into the region by people toting firewood from other states.

The redbay ambrosia beetle, which transmits the destructive laurel wilt, and the gypsy moth have been discovered along the borders of North Carolina. Laurel wilt has been confirmed in northern South Carolina by state and federal forestry officials. The European gypsy moth has been found in some northeastern counties of our state. The insects, known as non-native invasive species, are making their way across state borders in a number of ways but the biggest culprit is firewood, forestry officials say.

The gypsy moth lays egg masses on firewood. Other invasive insects, including the redbay ambrosia beetle, the emerald ash borer, Sirex woodwasp, and the Asian longhorned beetle, can complete their life cycle within the firewood and emerge as adults at a new location. Invasive pathogens can also be present on firewood and produce spores that infect and kill oaks.

North Carolina residents and visitors should use local firewood that comes from within a 50 miles radius of where it was cut. Firewood should never be brought into North Carolina from other states. If firewood has unknowingly been brought into our state or has been moved long distances across the state, make sure to burn all the firewood as soon as possible. Campers should never leave unburned firewood at a campsite.

Also, homeowners with dead redbay trees should keep cut trees on their property. Proper disposal of redbay includes leaving wood on-site, cutting or chipping wood on-site, or burning wood on-site in compliance with local ordinances. Dead trees should not be taken to a landfill or somewhere else to be used as firewood. To learn more, go to or For more information, call Brian R. Haines, public information officer with the N.C. Forest Service, at (919) 857-4828.

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Residents invited to public meeting and workshop on natural resources
November 6, 2009

RALEIGH – The N.C. Forest Service and the Johnston County Natural Resource Initiative (JCNRI) are inviting residents to participate in a free public meeting and workshop on natural resources.

"Green Infrastructure, What it Means to Johnston County" will be used to solicit input on the assessment of natural resources important to the county.

The meeting will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 12, at the Johnston County Agriculture Building and give residents an opportunity to learn more about the natural resource initiative and its efforts.

Johnston County's proximity to the Research Triangle Park, its open landscape, and rich rural heritage makes it an attractive area for development and economic prosperity. In fact, it is the sixth fastest growing county in the state, experiencing a 29 percent increase in population between 2000 and 2007. Officials expect continued growth and land use changes in Johnston County due to this population trend.

"In order to retain its rural character as it grows, Johnston County needs to incorporate its natural areas into its growth strategy," said Leslie Moorman, the Urban and Community Forestry Program coordinator for the N.C. Forest Service.

The goal is to bring together municipal and county officials, as well as residents, to provide guidance in unifying and directing conservation efforts in the county. Connecting natural resource areas has economic value and should be designed to maximize their benefit to the county as a whole. All attendees will have an opportunity to identify natural resource areas that are important to them.

With the involvement of stakeholder groups and the general public at this upcoming workshop, the Johnston County Natural Resource Initiative will continue the process of creating a comprehensive document with maps of Johnston County's natural resource areas and other places considered high priority natural areas in the county.

Johnston County has many natural resources including agricultural lands, working forests, parks, preserves, trails, greenways and stream and river corridors. When these resources are connected and managed, they will provide maximum benefits for communities as well as the environment. Benefits such as clean air and clean water, pollution control and wildlife conservation are part of what keeps and draws people to the county.

Several organizations are working on projects that promote natural space retention in Johnston County including the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, voluntary agriculture districts and a farmland protection plan.

The project initiative is funded through a grant from the N.C. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program through the U.S. Forest Service. For more information, contact Moorman at (919) 857-4842 or

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Natural Resource Agencies Participate in Annual American Indian Mother's Conference
October 23, 2009

RALEIGH – State and federal agencies are partnering with the American Indian Mothers Incorporated in its annual conference beginning on Nov. 5 on the campus of UNC-Pembroke.

The intertribal conference is designed to build bridges by empowering Native Americans with quality health information, education, professional agribusiness development and spiritual awakening. Natural resource professionals from North Carolina A&T University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, North Carolina Farm Transition Network, and the N.C. Forest Service will discuss issues such as organic farming, estate planning, forest management and programs that are available to assist landowners.

"We encourage farmers and forest landowners to come out and gather information on topics that will assist them in managing and diversifying their farm and in learning to keep the farm in the family through estate planning," said Alton Perry, outreach coordinator for the N.C. Forest Service.

The conference is designed to educate landowners on how to grow their agricultural business. Many farmers are unaware of the farm programs, technology and technical assistance available to them through their local natural resource agencies. This conference will assist landowners in navigating through the system of federal and state programs.

Agencies hosting the workshop include the American Indian Mothers Inc., N.C. Forest Service, the U.S.D.A. Farm Service Agency, U.S.D.A. Natural Resource Conservation Service and UNC-Pembroke.

To register, please contact Beverly Collins-Hall at (910) 843-9911. For more information, call Brian R. Haines, public information officer with the N.C. Forest Service, at (919) 857-4828.

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Wildfire Training Simulation to be Conducted in Stanley County
October 13, 2009

RALEIGH – To prepare for fall fire season, state and local firefighters will participate this week in the N.C. Forest Service' annual fire school in Stanly County.

About 75 employees from the state Forest Service will be involved in the classroom training at the Albemarle Fire Station, Alcoa Training Center and Morrow Mountain State Park in Stanly County.

The course will include several field exercises on Thursday. During one exercise, firefighters will conduct a prescribed fire at Morrow Mountain State Park if weather permits. Traveling motorists and residents in the area are warned to be aware of and avoid areas with heavy smoke.

The exercises will begin about 8 a.m. and continue until the middle of the afternoon. The area's varied terrain will enable firefighters to practice battling blazes on steep slopes using hand tools such as fire rakes and other crews to contain the fire using tractors plows.

Firefighters also will train using helicopters, scout planes and small air tankers. There will be a number of aircraft and emergency vehicles operating in the area during the exercise. The Forest Service wants residents to be aware that the increased activity is for training purposes only. The area around the training sites will be closed to the public during the exercise.

Air operations personnel will be training at the Stanly County Airport. They will be tracking and managing the NCFS helicopters and single engine air tankers. About 30 NCFS personnel will be involved in this operation.

Training exercises help agencies prepare as a team and respond quickly and safely during a wildfire. The state agency holds three fire schools a year. This fire school ends Friday at the Badin Volunteer Fire Department where students and coaches will critique and discuss their experiences from the field exercise.

For additional information on this fire school, contact Kevin Harvell, a district forester with the state Forest Service, at (336) 956-2111, or Brian Haines, public information officer for the state Forest Service, at (919) 857-4828 or (919) 218-9728.

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N.C. Forest Service Encourages Safety During This Fall Fire Season
October 5, 2009

RALEIGH – National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 5-11, and the N.C. Forest Service is urging residents throughout the state to be careful with fire, especially during the upcoming fall fire season.

Fall wildfire season typically lasts from mid-October until mid-December. During the fall, people do a lot of yard work that includes burning leaves and yard debris. Sometimes, those yard fires escape and start wildfires. In fact, debris burning is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in North Carolina.

There are many factors to consider before doing any debris burning. The state Forest Service urges people to adhere to the following tips to protect property and prevent wildfires:

  • Never burn trash, paper, plastics and other man-materials. It is illegal to burn man-made materials in North Carolina because the smoke pollutes the air and can be harmful to breathe.
  • Make sure you have a valid permit. You can obtain a burning permit at any N.C. Forest Service office or permitting agent, or online at
  • Check with local officials. Outside burning may be prohibited.
  • Check the weather. Don't burn on dry, windy days.
  • Local fire officials can recommend a safe way to burn debris. Don't pile vegetation on the ground. Instead, it should be placed in a cleared area and contained in a screened receptacle, away from overhead branches and wires.
  • Check local laws on burning debris. Some communities allow burning only during specified hours. Others forbid it entirely.
  • Consider the alternatives to burning. Some types of debris, such as leaves, grass, and stubble may be of more value if they are not burned, but used for mulch instead. Household trash should be hauled away to a recycling station.
  • Be sure you are fully prepared before burning. To control the fire, you will need a hose, bucket and a shovel for tossing dirt on the fire.
  • Never use kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel or other flammable liquids to speed debris burning.
  • Stay with your fire until it is completely out.

Studies have shown that adhering to these and other measures can reduce the possibility for wildfires.

For more information, contact Brian Haines, public information officer with the state Forest Service, at (919) 857-4828.

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Basic Land Management Skills Workshop For Coastal Landowners
September 23, 2009

GREENVILLE – The N.C. Forest Service wants coastal landowners to attend the Biltmore Forest School Coastal Woodland Steward Series, a workshop that promotes good land management.

The first in the series workshops, Discovering Your Land: Basic Land Management Skills, will be held from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at the Exchange Nature Center, 401 West Caswell Street, Kinston.

Participants will learn skills and information useful in managing their land, including setting goals for their land that benefit the ecosystem. The presentations will touch on basic land management skills such as plant identification, map and compass usage, soil types and the benefits of using geographic information systems and global positioning systems. Participants will receive equipment to help manage their land and will meet agency representatives and others available to help them accomplish their goals.

A second workshop, Native Landscaping & Water Management, will be in the Pitt County Agricultural Center, 403 Government Circle, Greenville, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 9 and 9 a.m.-noon Oct. 10. This workshop will help land managers in coastal North Carolina with stormwater, riparian or wetland areas and landscaping using native plants. Participants will tour the agricultural center’s arboretum and learn how to fight non-native invasive species. Protection, care and planting of landscape trees will be discussed.

The cost is $50 per person per workshop. Spouses or other family member may attend each workshop at $25 per person. Registration includes lunch and snacks on the first day of each workshop as well as workshop-related materials. Registration for the first workshop has passed, but some seats still remain so people who wish to participate should contact the Amy Garascia, program coordinator, at or (828) 884-5713 ext. 26. For more information on the first workshop, visit

Registration for the second workshop will be accepted through Oct. 2. People who attend either workshop can receive credits toward their North Carolina environmental education certification as well as continuing education units and continuing forest education credits.

The workshops are being sponsored by the Cradle of Forestry Interpretive Association, N.C. Forest Service, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, U.S. Forest Service, Kinston/Lenoir County Parks & Recreation Department, N.C. Tree Farm Program, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Weyerhaeuser Company.

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Take a Child Outside, Take a Child to an Educational State Forest
September 22, 2009

RALEIGH – The N.C. Forest Service is encouraging families to visit one of its six educational state forests during "Take A Child Outside Week" Sept. 24-30.

"The Forest Service has a long-standing commitment to developing love, understanding and knowledge about the great outdoors for children and adults through programs such as the North Carolina educational state forest system," said Wib Owen, North Carolina’s state forester.

Each of the six educational state forests teach the public - especially school children - about the forest environment and to encourage them to get out and enjoy the benefits of nature. Many experts agree that there are physical and psychological benefits to exploring nature, including stress reduction.

Clemmons Educational State Forest in Clayton has become such a popular program that teachers must make reservations months in advance to bring their students to the forest for environmental education classes. The Clemmons became North Carolina’s first educational state forest when it opened in Johnston County in 1976. Each of the educational state forests features a self-guided trail that includes exhibits, tree identification signs, a forest education center and a talking tree trail. The division is working to open its seventh state educational forest, Mountain Island Educational State Forest in Mount Holly.

Specially trained rangers are available to conduct classes for school and other youth groups. Teachers or group leaders choose from a selection of 30-minute programs that cover all aspects of the forest environment - from soil, water and wildlife to timber and forest management.

To find out more information about North Carolina's educational state forests, follow the links on the state Forest Service’ Web site, For additional information, call your county ranger or Brian R. Haines, the agency’s public information officer, at (919) 857-4828.

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Funds From American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Will Help North Carolina Forests
August 19, 2009

RALEIGH - State forestry officials will receive more than $6 million in federal economic recovery funds to reduce the spread of wildfires and help restore some of the state's once-abundant longleaf pine forests.

The N.C. Forest Service will receive the funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In total, $4.6 million will be used to reduce the amount of dried vegetation in forests that help wildfires spread. The state agency will hire five people to identify areas where loads of forest fuels such as downed trees could help spread wildfires. In addition, ARRA funds will be used to hire private contractors for wildfire mitigation and prevention education, and to complete community wildfire protection plans. The wildfire protection plans promote the Firewise program, a statewide effort to inform people about steps they can take to protect their homes and property from wildfires. On average, North Carolina experiences about 5,000 wildfires each year.

The division will also receive $1.7 million in ARRA funding for the Regional Longleaf Pine Restoration. Using the economic recovery funds, the state will hire temporary employees and private contractors to perform most of the restoration efforts at Bladen Lakes State Forest. Work may be conducted on other state-managed land, if ARRA money is still available. Part of the $1.7 million will also be used to hire private contractors to construct a new irrigation system to produce more containerized longleaf pine seedlings at the state Forest Service' nursery in Goldsboro.

Part of the more than $6 million in ARRA funds also will be used to:

  • Create a new grant administrative assistant position for the Forest Service.
  • Retain an existing staff forester position to serve as the ARRA longleaf program coordinator, and hire an outreach and education coordinator to develop a series of educational workshops on the longleaf pine.
  • Provide tuition and travel scholarships for up to 25 foresters and natural resource professionals to attend Longleaf Academies in Alabama.
  • Produce promotional and educational materials that support longleaf pine restoration and management.

For more information, contact Brian R. Haines, public information officer with the state Forest Service, at (919) 857-4828.

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Winners of Urban Forestry Awards Program Announced
August 3, 2009

RALEIGH - The N.C. Forest Service is proud to announce the winners of the 2009 North Carolina Urban Forestry Awards program (PDF).

The annual program rewards cities, towns, organizations, businesses and individuals for outstanding work to protect and enhance community forests and raise awareness about the importance of urban forestry projects.

The N.C. Forest Service announces the winners for the following award categories:

  • Outstanding Project Grand Award: City of Gastonia Evergreen Tree Project
  • Outstanding Project Merit Award: City of Raleigh Neighbor Woods Program
  • Outstanding Individual Grand Award: Mary Silliman of Apex
  • Outstanding Individual Merit Award: Mariana Qubein of High Point
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Mary "Bett" Stroud of Weaverville
  • Tree City of the Year: Town of Weaverville

Winners were selected by a panel that included N.C. Forest Service' urban forestry staff and members of the North Carolina Urban Forest Council. Entries were judged for impact, quality, innovation and the degree to which the work serves as a worthy example for others to follow. The winners may also be nominated for the National Arbor Day Awards program.

"I am very pleased with the response we have received to the awards program," says Jennifer Rall, Urban Forestry program assistant and administrator of the awards program. "The judging committee did not have an easy time deciding on winners. All of the nominees showed a true passion and dedication to advancing urban forestry in their communities."

Award recipients will be recognized at the N.C. Urban Forest Council's 2009 Annual Conference Awards Banquet on Sept. 15 at the Marriott Hotel, 425 North Cherry St., Winston-Salem.

For more information, , contact Rall at (919) 857-4849 or download an application from the N.C. Forest Service Web site,

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Conference to Focus on North Carolina's Growing Urban Forests
July 15, 2009

RALEIGH - People have until the end of July to register early for a conference this fall to address the effects of North Carolina's rapid population growth on urban forests.

"Building Your Urban Forest Infrastructure; Developing Working Partnerships and Technologies for Your Community," will be Sept. 15-17 at the Marriott Hotel, 425 North Cherry St., Winston-Salem. People who register by July 31 will be eligible to pay the early registration fee of $130. After July 31, registration fees increase $35. The cutoff for registration is Sept. 10.

This second annual conference will be hosted by the N.C. Urban Forest Council, the N.C. Forest Service and N.C. State University's College of Natural Resources.

The conference will cover environmental, policy and educational issues as well as the technical tools and resources needed to assure urban forest quality in the nation's sixth-fastest growing state. Field tours, exhibits and speakers will focus on planning and maintaining environmentally sustainable urban environments.

The conference will feature keynote speakers Dan Lambe, of the National Arbor Day Foundation, and Bob Miller, emeritus professor of Urban Forestry at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Henry Wallace, N.C. Urban Forest Council chairman, will give the opening address.

About 200 people are expected to attend, including elected officials, members of local tree boards as well as planning and appearance commissions, developers, municipal staff, landscape architects and other state agencies. There will be a variety of exhibitors at the conference including arborist services, urban forestry educators, nonprofit organizations focused on urban and community forestry, municipalities with success stories and researchers. Conference sponsorships and continuing education credits are available.

The agenda and registration information can be found at:, or by calling officials at N.C. State University at (919) 515-9563.

For more information call Jennifer Rall, urban forestry program assistant with the N.C. Forest Service, at (919) 857-4849.

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Forestry Officials Provide Independence Day Safety Tips
July 01, 2009

RALEIGH - Officials with the state Forest Service encourage people to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend by viewing public fireworks displays rather than risk setting wildfires with their own fireworks.

Many wildfires that occur during this time of the year start due to the careless use of fireworks such as sparklers, fountains, glow worms, smoke devices, trick noisemakers and other Class C fireworks.

Each year, wildfires in North Carolina endanger peoples' lives, destroy millions of dollars worth of timber and property, and damage the environment. Wildfires often take valuable human resources to fight and consume significant amounts of water to extinguish.

If people choose to take the risk of using their own fireworks, here are some simple ways to help keep the holiday safe:

  • Don't use fireworks such as ground spinners, firecrackers, round spinners, Roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars, which are not legal in North Carolina.
  • Do not use fireworks near woods or any combustible material.
  • Make sure fireworks are always used with adult supervision.
  • Follow the instructions provided with the fireworks.
  • Do not use while you are under the influence of alcohol.
  • Always use in a large open - preferably paved - area or near a body of water.
  • Have a rake or shovel as well as bucket or two of water on hand.
  • Monitor the area for several hours after use.

Since an increased number of homes are being built in North Carolina's wooded areas, officials with the N.C. Forest Service stress the need to take extra precautions to prevent wildfires in residential areas. In addition to taking measures to use fireworks safely, campfires or grills should never be left unattended and should never be started with gasoline. It is also important when disposing of ashes to never put them in a paper bag or other flammable container, but instead place them in an outside metal container or bury them in mineral soil in your garden. If you live in an area with organic soils, however, keep in mind that peat can catch fire. Never store ashes in your garage, on your deck or in a wooded area. Remember to double-check the ashes and coals before throwing them away to make sure they won't start a fire.

For more information, contact your county ranger or Brian R. Haines, public information officer, at (919) 857-4828. For more information on fire safety, visit or

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U.S. Forest Service stages firefighting aircraft in Kinston
April 24, 2009

RALEIGH - The U.S. Forest Service has relocated a large firefighting airtanker at the N.C. Forest Service' Kinston facility in case the aircraft is needed to fight a large wildfire burning in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The N.C. Forest Service has provided a place at the Kinston Regional Jetport for the U.S. Forest Service to stage its P3 Orion Airtanker. Also, the N.C. Forest Service is supplying a crew to load flame retardant onto the airtanker, which can drop 2,550 gallons of flame retardant at one time.

Staff with the N.C. Forest Service has been in contact with the S.C. Forestry Commission to offer assistance with the 19,600-acre wildfire burning near North Myrtle Beach, S.C. The division has personnel and equipment available if the S.C. Forestry Commission requests help.

The wildfire in South Carolina has destroyed 69 homes and damaged another 100 homes. The wildfire also has forced the evacuation of 4,000 people.

North Carolina forestry officials have readied firefighting resources near the state's border in case the wildfire approaches the Tar Heel State.

North Carolina forestry officials continue to urge residents, particularly along the coast, not to burn leaves, pine straw, twigs or other yard vegetation. Winds, high temperatures and dry, organic fuels in the area have increased the risk of wildfire.

For more information, call Brian R. Haines, public information officer with the N.C. Forest Service, at (919) 857-4828 or (919) 218-9728.

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State forestry officials urging people not to burn during dry, windy weather
April 22, 2009

RALEIGH - The N.C. Forest Service is urging residents statewide not to burn leaves, twigs and other yard debris during the next few days as warm, windy and dry weather is expected to increase wildfire danger.

Spring wildfire season typically lasts from mid-February until mid-May when vegetation has returned. During spring wildfire season, North Carolina typically experiences fewer rain events and more warm, windy days that can dry leaves as well as downed trees and other forest fuels.

This is also the season people do a lot of yard work such as burning leaves. In North Carolina, careless debris burning is the No. 1 cause of wildfires. The division responded to 4,361 wildfires last year that burned more than 52,119 acres on state and private land. In 2008. seven homes were destroyed and 45 homes were damaged by wildfires. Also, firefighters protected 5,490 homes and other structures from wildfires. This year, more than 2,159 wildfires have burned more than 9,233 acres.

For more information, contact Brian Haines, public information officer with the state Forest Service, at (919) 857-4828.

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March 18, 2009

RALEIGH - The N.C. Forest Service is encouraging all North Carolinians to plant a tree on Friday, which is Arbor Day in North Carolina.

Trees can bring more than scenic beauty to city streets and your yard. They are also an excellent low-tech solution to reduce your energy needs. Large deciduous trees save people money on energy bills by keeping houses shaded and cooler in the summer and reducing the need for air conditioning. Evergreen trees can also help save money on heating bills by blocking the wind during the winter. This reduces the peak load on utility companies and the amount of fossil fuels being burned to heat and cool your home. This also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide being released, which results in cleaner air.

Trees are also excellent filters for nonpoint sources of pollution. As rainfall or snowmelt moves over and through the ground it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and underground sources of drinking water. Trees help to filter these pollutants from the water.

In North Carolina, 69 cities recognize the need for maintaining the aesthetic beauty of their streets and parks by being part of the Tree City USA program. The program is sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters. The program provides assistance and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs in thousands of towns and cities nationwide.

One of the easiest ways to recognize Arbor Day is to plant a tree. Residents who are interested in planting trees in North Carolina should consider planting a species native to the state. These plants typically require less maintenance than plants imported from distant states because they are well suited to the local soils and climate.

As the population increases in North Carolina, forests are becoming fragmented and wildlife habitat is diminishing. But by planting indigenous plants and trees, residents can help local wildlife such as birds flourish as they are adapted to native species. Experts also recommend planting a variety of native species to create diverse landscape, which will encourage wildlife. Planting indigenous plants and trees also helps to prevent the spread of invasive, exotic plants, which pose a threat to native plants and animals and often create wildfire hazards when they become overgrown. Trees also play an important role in water quality.

As with anything you plant, be sure you are putting your trees in an appropriate and safe location. You should consider the 'right tree, right place' concept. This means before you plant a tree, know what it looks like at maturity and its site requirements. Consider its height, crown spread, proximity to electrical wires and buildings. When planting a tree, the available planting space above and below ground is crucial to the future survival of that tree.

The official North Carolina Arbor Day is celebrated on the first Friday after March 15. National Arbor Day is on the last Friday in April. Different municipalities in the state may celebrate their local Arbor Day at different times depending on the best time of the year to plant trees in that area. Check with your local city arborist or county ranger to determine what the best time of the year is to plant a tree in your area.

To find out more about the benefits of trees on your property visit The International Society of Arboriculture Web site at ( or contact Leslie Moorman, Urban Forestry Program Coordinator, at (919) 857-4842. For information on native tree nurseries in North Carolina, go to For more information on indigenous plants and trees log onto the N.C. State University Web page "Going Native" at

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State officials discouraging outdoor burning due to dry, windy weather
February 12, 2009

RALEIGH - The N.C. Forest Service is discouraging people from outdoor burning today as weather officials have issued warnings about dangerous fire conditions for almost all of North Carolina.

The National Weather Service on Thursday issued red flag warnings or wind advisories for all North Carolina except a few southwestern counties. The red flag warnings issued for the Charlotte area, the Piedmont Triad, Triangle, Fayetteville and all of eastern North Carolina means that strong winds, dry air and warm temperatures have created high probability for wildfires in those areas. Wind warnings were issued for the Boone and Asheville areas, as weather officials expected sustained winds between 30 mph and 45 mph with gusts of up to 50 mph in some places.

Forestry officials are discouraging people from outdoor burning due to those windy, dry conditions. Careless burning of leaves, twigs and other outdoor debris remains the No. 1 cause of wildfires in North Carolina.

Drought and abnormally dry weather in recent weeks has spread statewide, drying forest fuels such as downed trees and creating conditions that could prove dangerous for outdoor burning this month and during the spring. Historically, North Carolina's busiest fire season starts in March and ends in June - a time when many people decide to burn yard debris that accumulated during the winter.

This year, there have been more than 617 wildfires that have burned more than 1,354 acres.

For more information on ways you can prevent wildfires, go to, or contact Brian Haines, public information officer with the Forest Service, at (919) 857-4828.

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State Officials Participate in Annual Wake County Landowner Workshop
January 13, 2009

RALEIGH - State officials are co-hosting a workshop in Wake County Jan. 28 for landowners seeking help managing their farms and forestland.

The Wake County Keeping the Farm workshop will be held on Jan. 28 from 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Commons Building in the Wake County Office Park, 4011Carya Drive, Raleigh. The workshop is free and open to everyone. To register, please contact the Wake Soil and Water District Office at (919) 250-1050.

Alton Perry, outreach coordinator for the N.C. Forest Service, and other natural resource professionals will discuss ways state agencies can assist landowners. Part of Perry's mission is to help landowners who have traditionally not taken advantage of the programs the Forest Service offers. He will educate people about financial and technical assistance programs people can use to manage and sustain their forestland for future generations. In addition, experts from a host of agencies and nonprofit organizations will discuss everything from income, land use tax value, municipal planning and regulators, forestry, agricultural alternatives and more during breakout sessions.

Agencies hosting the workshop include the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service - Wake County Center, N.C. Forest Service, the U.S.D.A. Farm Service Agency, Wake County Parks and Recreation and Open Space, Wake Soil and Water Conservation District, North Carolina Farm Transition Network, Triangle Land Conservancy and N.C. State University.

For more information, call Brian R. Haines, NCFS public information officer, at (919) 857-4828.

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This page updated: Monday, November 14, 2016 15:38

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