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Newsdesk - 2013

N.C. Forest Service accepting entries for 2014 Arbor Day Photo Contest

RALEIGH — The N.C. Forest Service's Urban and Community Forestry Program is accepting entries for its 2014 Arbor Day Photo Contest through Feb. 28. The contest is open to North Carolina students in fifth through 12th grades, including public, private and home schools. The theme is "Young and Old." "The theme reflects not just the beauty of North Carolina's trees and forests, but also the values and benefits that many generations have enjoyed," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

The competition will be divided into fifth through eighth grades and ninth through 12th grades. A panel of judges will select a winner from each division and one grand prize winner. Honorable mentions may also be awarded.

Winners of each division will receive $50 and a tree to plant on their school grounds. The grand prize winner will receive $150, a tree to plant at school and a framed reproduction of the winning photo.

To enter, participants should download and complete an entry form, and include a caption and photographer's statement. One photo per photographer may be entered.

Entry forms and a list of submission requirements can be found under the Urban and Community Forestry link on the N.C. Forest Service website at

Schools may select up to six best photos for entry. Each photo should be submitted electronically in a JPEG format (maximum of 6 megabytes), along with an accompanying entry form and emailed to Any school submitting more than one photo should submit photos on a CD by mail to Jennifer Rall, N.C. Forest Service, 1616 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1600.

Entries will be judged on how well the photo and caption express the contest theme; overall aesthetics of the photo; evidence that the student researched the benefits and importance of trees in communities as related to the contest theme; how well the photographer's statement addresses the contest theme; spelling and grammar. All decisions of the judges are final.

Winners will be selected and notified by March 14. Prizes will be awarded at the N.C. Arbor Day celebration on March 22 in Raleigh. For more information, contact Rall at 919-857-4849 or

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DuPont Forest planning timber harvest
October 25, 2013

CEDAR MOUNTAIN – DuPont State Recreational Forest will conduct a timber harvest on 46 acres at Guion Farm starting around Nov. 1. The start date for the work is dependent on the weather, but visitors to the forest need to be aware that there will be some periodic trail closures as well as forestry equipment in the woods.

"The harvest is in alignment with DuPont's Land Resource Management Plan," said Michael Sweat, DuPont management forester. "This harvest has been in the planning stages for a while and will not only improve the health of the forest but will address some safety concerns in this area as well."

Sweat said some white pines are declining in the section of forest where the harvest is planned. A bike path winds through this section, and removing the pines will help to increase safety in the area, he said.

The harvested area also will be used to educate the public by demonstrating several regeneration methods used in forestry, including some natural regeneration and the planting of shortleaf pine. The natural regeneration of a forest occurs when seed, sprouts or root suckers of trees grow back and replace harvested trees. "The purpose of the planting is to create a mixed stand of shortleaf and hardwood, which will create structural diversity as well as species diversity in a mature white pine plantation," said Jason Guidry, DuPont Forest supervisor.

The revenue from the timber harvest has been incorporated into the forest's proposed budget to help pay for operating expenses, Guidry said. Visitors to DuPont should log on to or the N.C. Forest Service Facebook page at, email, or call 828-877-6527 for more information about trail closures. DuPont staff also will be updating kiosks within the forest as harvest continues.

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N.C. Forest Service using wasps to fight emerald ash borer
September 25, 2013

RALEIGH — The N.C. Forest Service is enlisting a small, stingless wasp in its battle with the invasive emerald ash borer.

On Thursday, Dr. Kelly Oten will release a species of parasitoid wasp that can kill emerald ash borer larvae. The wasp lays eggs inside the borer larvae, and as the young wasps develop, they kill the ash borer larvae.

The release will take place in three locations in Granville County: four miles northwest of Oak Hill, four miles northwest of Townsville near Kerr Reservoir, and one mile north of Stovall.

"The wasps are from China, where EAB originated, and they target this beetle specifically," said Oten, forest health specialist with the Forest Service. "The wasps are being reared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a laboratory in Brighton, Mich., and have been released for biocontrol of EAB in 16 of the 21 states where the borer has been found."

Releases of these wasps are conducted under specific USDA guidelines, Oten said. The release is being done in coordination with both private and public entities that have forest resources affected by EAB.

Emerald ash borer is a destructive wood-boring insect that attacks ash trees, including green ash, white ash and several horticultural varieties of ash. The insect kills healthy trees after it bores beneath their bark and disrupts their vascular tissues. The emerald ash borer is not native to the United States and was first found in Michigan in 2002. It has spread to 21 states and has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the United States.

The Plant Industry Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services established an EAB quarantine covering Granville, Person, Vance and Warren counties following detection of the pest this year. This means that ash trees, the ash borers and any hardwood firewood cannot be moved out of a quarantined county into a non-quarantined county. Firewood refers to wood that is cut to less than 4 feet in length.

The quarantine was established to prevent the spread of EAB to other, non-infested parts of the state.

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N.C. Forest Service crews fighting fires in Western states
August 15, 2013

RALEIGH – North Carolina's wet spring and summer have meant a below-normal wildfire season, allowing N.C. Forest Service staff to assist states in the West.

A 20-person crew left earlier this week to help fight one of the many wildfires burning in Alaska. Another 20-person crew is working on a wildfire near Portage, Utah.

A third, multi-agency crew will be traveling to Boise, Idaho, on Saturday, where it will be assigned to one of the many fires in that region. This crew is made up of individuals from the N.C. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, N.C. Division of Parks & Recreation and multiple volunteer fire departments.

Forest Service employees also have helped fight wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington. All total, the agency has sent 78 people to work on wildfires in the Western U.S. this year.

"Whenever there are extreme wildfires in our country, fire agencies work together to help one another," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "Over the years, many of our employees have trained with other state and federal agencies. Those trainings and these opportunities to work together ultimately benefit North Carolina because our employees obtain knowledge and experience that can be used when responding to incidents here.

"I don't think any state can battle large wildfires without help from others," he said. "Our employees know that the work they do to help other firefighting agencies will come back to us in the form of assistance when we need it."

The requesting agencies will reimburse the state for providing the assistance.

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Wet-weather logging advisory for North Carolina
July 17, 2013

RALEIGH — The recent over-abundance of rainfall in North Carolina has helped to minimize wildfire risks, but it also has made logging much more difficult.

The N.C. Forest Service is reminding loggers, timber buyers and forest owners to take extra precautions to prevent sediment or soil from washing into creeks, to prevent excessive rutting or compacting of saturated soil, and to keep ground disturbance to a minimum when logging.

"The Forest Service has been busy inspecting logging sites around the state, and foresters and rangers have seen more problems lately, especially in areas with steeply sloped lands and soils that are prone to erosion," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

Problems are mainly related to:

  • Inadequate control of rainfall runoff from skid trails and logging roads;
  • Poorly established or improperly maintained stream crossings and skid trails;
  • Ineffective soil stabilization and site rehabilitation.

In the logging industry, the measures and actions used to conserve soil and protect water quality are known as Best Management Practices. "The fundamental science behind forestry BMPs has been researched, field-tested and refined by forest scientists and industry experts for more than 75 years, and research is continuing," Troxler said.

The Forest Service has a comprehensive user's guide to assist loggers and other forestry professionals with identifying and installing BMPs. The North Carolina Forestry BMP Manual and its corresponding Field Guide are available from Forest Service offices and online at http:\\

During prolonged or extreme wet weather like North Carolina has been experiencing, loggers are encouraged to use all applicable forestry BMPs. The Forest Service offers the following tips:

  • Do not install new equipment crossings over a stream or creek. Access timber from the other side if possible.
  • Retain wider, undisturbed buffer zones of trees and vegetation alongside streams.
  • Apply leftover tree tops, limbs, branches and woody debris to skid trails to cover bare soil throughout the duration of the logging work. This can prevent soil damage and reduce the risk of sediment washing down the slope and into a stream.
  • Immediately apply groundcover stabilization on sloping sections of skid trails, on top of roads and next to stream crossings when finished. Prepare for heavy, prolonged rains.

County rangers with the Forest Service can provide free BMP advice and pre-harvest planning assistance to support logging work. Interested individuals also should review the extensive library of BMP recommendations available on the agency's website, including the latest BMP newsletter highlighting skid trail problems.

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N.C. Forest Service accepting orders for seedlings
July 11, 2013

RALEIGH — The annual window of opportunity for ordering seedlings from the N.C. Forest Service Nursery Program is open.

"The Forest Service produces about 20 million quality seedlings for 54 species of both conifer and hardwoods each year at its nurseries, using solid nursery research and experience," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "The genetically superior Loblolly pine seedlings, for instance, are grown from seeds produced by orchard trees that are proven to give landowners increased growth and are more disease-resistant."

The Forest Service is selling hardwoods in quantities as low as 10 and conifers in quantities as low as 50. For customers wishing to purchase larger orders, the nursery also sells tree seedlings by the hundreds and thousands. The nurseries also have a variety of Fraser products available from 1-year-old plugs ready to go into the field.

"These Fraser firs come from our best family genetics, which are selected based on color, form, fullness and USDA grade," said Greg Pate, state forester. "They are grown in greenhouses using deep well water, eliminating the chance of Phytophthera sp. fungus. Demand for these seedlings is up, so order early."

The Forest Service's nurseries in Goldsboro and Crossnore have a large catalog of tree seedlings. Landowners can find information about the types of tree species, quantities and costs on the inside page of the catalog. Each tree description includes information about ideal planting locations and whether a species is typically used for the benefit of wildlife, restoring habitats or as marketable timber.

Catalogs are available at local Forest Service offices, which are located in all 100 North Carolina counties. The catalog is also available online at Click on the "Tree Seedlings & Nursery Program" link.

Seedlings can be ordered online, by mail or by phone at 1-888-NCTREES (1-888-628-7337) using a Visa or MasterCard. To order by mail, complete an order form and send it to Seedling Coordinator, 762 Claridge Nursery Road, Goldsboro, NC 27530.

Distribution of seedlings begins in the fall, depending on weather conditions. Seedling orders are shipped to one of 13 locations statewide for free or via UPS for a charge. People interested in information about planting trees may contact a local county ranger, who can be found on the contact page of the Forest Service website.

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First detection of the emerald ash borer made in the state; quarantine established for Granville, Person and Vance counties
June 17, 2013

RALEIGH – Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler signed an emergency quarantine order today restricting the movement of hardwood firewood, ash nursery stock and other ash materials from Granville, Person and Vance counties following the confirmation of the emerald ash borer in trees there. This marks the first time emerald ash borer has been found in the state.

North Carolina is the 20th state in the country to confirm the presence of the destructive pest, following the discovery of an adult beetle and other signs of borer activity in trees in Granville County by staff with the N.C. Forest Service. Additional surveying found signs of emerald ash borer activity in the bordering counties of Person and Vance.

"The detection of this pest is not unexpected, especially given the presence of the beetle in Virginia and Tennessee," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "We have been surveying and trapping sites along the state borders for several years for any signs of the movement of this pest. A federal quarantine will be coming shortly, but I am invoking this emergency quarantine to take every step possible to restrict the movement of emerald ash borer any further."

The beetle was first detected in the United States in Michigan in 2002. It is responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees across the country.

Under the state quarantine, all hardwood firewood and plants and plant parts of the ash tree -- including living, dead, cut or fallen, green lumber, stumps, roots, branches and composted and uncomposted chips -- cannot be moved outside the three counties.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Plant Industry Division and N.C. Forest Service are working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

"Detecting and preventing the human spread of the emerald ash borer is a huge undertaking," said Deborah Stewart, USDA state plant health director for North Carolina. "We need everyone's cooperation to minimize the impacts of this pest."

Symptoms of emerald ash borer in ash trees include a general decline in the appearance of the tree, such as thinning from the top down and loss of leaves. Clumps of shoots, also known as epicormic sprouts, emerging from the trunk of the tree and increased woodpecker activity are other symptoms. The emerald ash borer is not the only pest that can cause these.

Emerald ash borers overwinter as larvae. Adult beetles begin to emerge from May to June and can be found in the summer months. The adult beetle is one-fourth to a half-inch long and is slender and metallic green. When the adults emerge from a tree, they leave behind a D-shaped exit hole. The larvae can also create serpentine tunneling marks, known as feeding galleries, which are found under the bark of the infested trees.

Home and landowners are encouraged to report any symptomatic activity in ash trees to the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division hotline at 1-800-206-9333 or by email at The pest can affect any of the four types of ash trees grown in the state.

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Cogongrass discovered in Stanly County
June 12, 2013

RALEIGH — A small patch of cogongrass, considered by many experts to be one of the world's worst weeds, was discovered recently in Stanly County by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

This is the second confirmed infestation in North Carolina; the first was in Pender County in May 2012.

The Stanly County stand covers an area less than 200 square feet. It is not clear how this small clump started, but cogongrass can easily become established if seeds or rhizomes are transported as a contaminant on equipment or on commodities, such as hay, that are moved from other states where the weed is established. The department's N.C. Forest Service and Plant Industry Division are surveying land around the infestation and will treat the stand with herbicide.

Cogongrass has surpassed kudzu in the number of acres it covers in the Southeast. The largest infestations are in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.

Cogongrass was inadvertently introduced into the U.S. in 1912 near Mobile, Ala., arriving in a shipment of Satsuma oranges from Japan that used the grass as packing material. It was also introduced intentionally into Florida and Mississippi as a potential feed, but research trials proved cogongrass unsuitable for that use.

Considered a federal noxious weed, cogongrass has the ability to invade diverse habitats and quickly displace native vegetation, changing the way the ecosystem functions. For example, cogongrass will make longleaf pine communities susceptible to more frequent and hotter wildfires than normal. Even though longleaf pine is adapted to fire, seedlings are unable to tolerate the more frequent and hotter fires created by established cogongrass.

N.C. Forest Service workers discovered the Stanly County infestation during a routine evaluation of a stand of trees that had recently been thinned to improve tree health. It was confirmed by the Plant Industry Division.

The public is encouraged to learn more about cogongrass and how to identify it by visiting Suspected infestations should be reported to the department by calling 1-800-206-9333 or sending an email to

Cogongrass can be easily distinguished from other grasses during May and June when seed heads are likely to emerge. The seed heads are cylindrical in shape, about 2 to 8 inches long, white and fluffy. The root system of cogongrass is also distinctive because of the sharp shoot tips that sprout from the roots.

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N.C. Forest Service finds laurel wilt disease in New Hanover County
May 14, 2013

RALEIGH – The N.C. Forest Service has confirmed that laurel wilt, a devastating disease of redbay and other plants in the laurel family, has been identified in New Hanover County in an area near the western edge of Wilmington.

The disease has been identified across the Southeast in portions of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. In North Carolina, it was first discovered in Bladen, Columbus, Pender and Sampson counties in 2011, and in Brunswick County in 2012.

In North Carolina, sassafras, pondberry, pondspice, swampbay and spicebush also fall in the laurel family and could be affected by this disease.

Laurel wilt is introduced into the tree by the non-native redbay ambrosia beetle. The female beetle bores into the bark of the tree, carrying the fungus. Once the beetle is inside the tree, she makes tunnels where she will lay eggs. Fungal spores grow in these tunnels, blocking the movement of water from the tree roots and causing the tree to wilt and eventually die from lack of water. This fungus is extremely fast-acting, and trees typically die within a month of infection.

Symptoms of laurel wilt disease include drooping reddish or purplish foliage. Evidence of redbay ambrosia beetle attack may be found in the main stem; often strings of chewed wood, called frass toothpicks can be seen sticking out of entry holes. Removal of tree bark reveals black streaking in the outer wood.

It is believed the pest can travel about 20 miles per year naturally, but can spread more quickly when the fungus-carrying beetles are transported in wood, such as firewood, to new areas. Homeowners with dead redbay trees are encouraged to keep cut trees on their property. Dead trees should not be removed to a landfill or off site to be used as firewood. Proper disposal of redbay includes leaving wood on site, cutting or chipping wood on site or burning wood on site in compliance with local and state ordinances. In areas where burning is allowed, a permit can be obtained from the N.C. Forest Service through a local burn permit agent, a county ranger's office, or online at Look for "Burn Permits" under the quick links section.

This destructive pest was first discovered in Georgia in 2002. It is believed the fungus associated with the redbay ambrosia beetle arrived in the U.S. along with the pest in wooden crating material from Southeast Asia. The most recent detection of laurel wilt in New Hanover County was reported by N.C. Forest personnel, and confirmed by N.C. State University's Plant Disease and Insect Clinic laboratory.

To learn more about laurel wilt, go to and follow the links under the Forest Health section, or call Jason Moan, forest health monitoring coordinator with the N.C. Forest Service, at (919) 553-6178 ext. 223.

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Take caution when burning yard debris
March 13, 2013

RALEIGH – The N.C. Forest Service is urging residents throughout the state to think about safety and exercise caution during the upcoming fire season, which typically lasts statewide mid-March through mid-May.

The spring fire season coincides with when many people are getting back into their yards and doing spring cleanup that often includes burning leaves and yard debris.

The N.C. Forest Service encourages anyone considering debris burning to contact the local county forest ranger. There are many factors to consider before burning debris. The forest ranger can offer technical advice and explain what the best options are to help maximize the safety to people, property and the forest.

"Protect our natural resources by acting safely; don't burn on dry, windy days, and maintain a careful watch over a fire until it is extinguished," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

For people who choose to burn debris, the N.C. Forest Service urges them to adhere to the following tips to protect property and prevent wildfires:

  • Make sure you have an approved burning permit, which can be obtained at any N.C. Forest Service office, a county-approved burning permit agent, or online at
  • Check with your county fire marshal's office for local laws on burning debris. Some communities allow burning only during specified hours; others forbid it entirely.
  • Check the weather. Don't burn if conditions are dry or windy.
  • Consider alternatives to burning. Some yard debris such as leaves and grass may be more valuable if composted.
  • Only burn natural vegetation from your property. Burning household trash or any other man-made materials is illegal. Trash should be taken to a convenience center.
  • Plan burning for the late afternoon when conditions are typically less windy and more humid.
  • Be prepared. Use a shovel or hoe to clear a perimeter around the area around where you plan to burn.
  • Keep fire tools ready. To control the fire, you will need a hose, bucket, a steel rake and a shovel for tossing dirt on the fire.
  • Never use flammable liquids such as kerosene, gasoline or diesel fuel to speed debris burning.
  • Stay with your fire until it is completely out. In North Carolina, human carelessness leads to more wildfires than any other cause. In fact, debris burning is the leading cause of wildfires in the state.
  • These same tips hold true for campfires and barbeques. Douse burning charcoal briquettes or your campfire thoroughly with water. When soaked, stir the coals and soak them again. Be sure they are out cold and carefully feel to be sure they are extinguished. Never dump hot ashes or coals into a wooded area.
  • Burning agriculture residue and forestland litter: In addition to the rules above, a fire line should be plowed around the area to be burned. Large fields should be separated into small plots for burning one at a time. Before doing any burning in a wooded area, contact your county ranger who will weigh all factors, explain them and offer technical advice.

Studies have shown that taking these and other measures can greatly reduce wildfires and the loss of property associated with them. For more information on ways you can prevent wildfires and loss of property visit and click on the "Fire Control and Prevention" link.

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This page updated: Monday, November 14, 2016 16:00

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