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Newsdesk - 2021

March 31, 2021

N.C. Forest Service accepting applications for Forest Development Program funding

RALEIGH - Landowners interested in applying for cost-share reimbursement funding through the Forest Development Program (FDP) should contact their NCFS county ranger’s office or work with a consulting forester. The FDP is North Carolina’s flagship tree-planting program, helping eligible landowners implement a variety of forest stand improvement, site preparation and tree-planting practices. Applications must be submitted to the local NCFS county ranger’s office for initial review. N.C. Forest Service (NCFS) staff must then send eligible applications to the NCFS State Headquarters during two enrollment periods.

Enrollment periods are as follows:

  • “Base Fund” and “Mountain Fund” enrollment periods begin on March 1, 2021 and will close on the last Friday in May, May 28, 2021.
  • “Plant-Only Fund” enrollment period will begin on Sept. 1, 2021 and will close on the last Friday in October, Oct. 29, 2021.

To be considered for funding, all FDP applications must be received at the NCFS State Headquarters by the close of business on each of the closing dates. Landowners should apply as soon as possible. Allocation of funding will begin promptly after each enrollment period closes.

The number of FDP cost share funding requests continues to be significantly greater than available funding. To award funding, the NCFS State Headquarters will continue to utilize a random-draw lottery. Available funding amounts include $300,000 from the “Mountain Fund”; $1.24 million from the “Base Fund”; and $500,000 in statewide funding from the “Plant-Only” Fund.

Landowners may receive no more than $10,000 in FDP cost share reimbursement funding per fiscal year, and they are not guaranteed to receive a full $10,000 reimbursement payment, especially for projects that are completed underbudget.

In existence since 1977, the FDP is currently funded by an assessment on primary forest products. This partnership between forest industry, the NCFS and private woodland owners results in thousands of acres of North Carolina forests being improved and planted each year.

To find contact information for your local NCFS county ranger’s office, visit


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March 22, 2021

Laurel wilt identified in Jones County for first time

RALEIGH - The N.C. Forest Service (NCFS) has confirmed that laurel wilt, a devastating disease of redbay and other plants in the laurel family, has been identified on private land along U.S. Route 258 in Jones County. Sassafras, redbay, swampbay, pondberry, pondspice and spicebush are in the laurel family and can be affected by this disease.

“Laurel wilt is easier to spot during winter months when the rest of the trees do not have leaves,” said Jim Moeller, forest health specialist. “We were able to make this detection during a routine laurel wilt survey.”

The fungus that causes laurel wilt is introduced into trees by the nonnative redbay ambrosia beetle. Native to southeastern Asia, the beetle was first detected in the U.S. near Savannah, Ga. in the early 2000s. It has since spread to 11 additional states, from Texas to North Carolina. 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, Moeller said.

Female redbay ambrosia beetles bore into trees, carrying the fungus with them. Once the beetle is inside the tree, she makes tunnels and lays eggs. Fungal spores begin to 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. Beetles do not feed on the wood of the tree; rather, they feed on the fungus “farm” they created, he said.

Symptoms of laurel wilt disease include drooping reddish or purplish foliage. Evidence of a 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.

Currently, there isn’t a reliable way to prevent or treat laurel wilt. Insecticides have not been effective in stopping beetle attacks, and fungicides are costly and need reapplication. “Our best weapon is to slow the spread, and you can help by using local or treated firewood and by notifying your NCFS county ranger if you suspect laurel wilt has invaded a new area,” Moeller said.

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. Proper disposal of redbay trees includes leaving wood on-site, cutting or chipping wood on-site, or burning wood on-site in compliance with local and state ordinances. You can obtain a burn permit at any authorized permitting agent or online at

The detection of laurel wilt in Jones County was confirmed by pathologists at N.C. State University’s Plant Disease and Insect Clinic. To learn more about laurel wilt, visit and follow the links under the Forest Health section, or call your NCFS county ranger. To find contact information for your local NCFS county ranger, visit

A map showing laurel wilt detections throughout North Carolina is available at


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March 15, 2021

North Carolina Forestry Association and N.C. Forest Service promote Arbor Day and importance of planting trees

Arbor Day 2021 is March 19 in North Carolina

RALEIGH - As North Carolina’s urban tree canopy declines, the need to continue to plant trees becomes even more important as the state joins in the recognition of Arbor Day.

Established in 1872 as a tree-planting holiday, more than a million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day. Today, all 50 states, including North Carolina, and numerous countries around the globe recognize Arbor Day and its celebration of the planting, upkeep and preservation of trees.

Each year, North Carolina is losing around 4,510 acres of urban canopy cover. Urban tree canopy cover in North Carolina is an estimated 54% of total land mass. The national average is about 39%. While North Carolina ranks in the top 10 states in the country for urban canopy cover, the estimated percentage of urban land in North Carolina grew from 9.5% in 2010 to 11.5% in 2020.

“Trees and forests are an important part of the solution to many challenges we face in North Carolina,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We are fortunate to have state forestry programs that promote and protect forest resources by supporting communities and landowners with site preparation, tree-planting and forest improvement. Ensuring the sustainable management of North Carolina’s forests is critical for our economy and future generations. Planting trees is one way we can all do our part on Arbor Day and every day.”

Why is it important to plant trees on Arbor Day in North Carolina?

Planting trees and responsible urban forest management in North Carolina are critical for keeping the state on the path to sustainable forest resources and realizing the benefits trees and forests provide.

“The North Carolina Forestry Association believes that environmental protection and ecological restoration of the state’s forests can go hand in hand with economic opportunity and improved rural employment,” said Dr. John Hatcher, Executive Director of NCFA. “Forestry is a strong environmental and economic driver in our state, creating more than 150,400 jobs and is 100% environmentally sustainable and renewable.”

Learn more about urban and community forestry programs and services available through the N.C. Forest Service at Learn more about the NCFA, which actively promotes healthy, productive forests by supporting the efforts of landowners and forestry-related businesses and organizations who responsibly manage or use forests, at Additional helpful resources include the N.C. Urban Forest Council at, NCSU Extension Forestry at, and North Carolina Project Learning Tree at To learn more about Arbor Day in North Carolina and how you can get involved, follow these forestry partners on social media.


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March 8, 2021

Think before burning yard debris during spring wildfire season

RALEIGH - In North Carolina, March through May is historically recognized as spring wildfire season, a period when conditions are more favorable for wildfire. As residents begin working in their yards, the N.C. Forest Service urges them to think before burning yard debris.

“Every year, almost 40% of wildfires in North Carolina are the result of careless debris burning,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “To protect ourselves and our forestland from wildfire, we have to be responsible and vigilant. Check the weather. Make sure you’re prepared to burn before you do. Never leave a debris fire unattended, and always have a water source and phone nearby in case you need them.”

There are many factors to consider before burning yard debris. The N.C. Forest Service encourages residents to contact their local county forest ranger for technical advice and options to help ensure the safety of people, property and the forest. To find contact information for your local NCFS county ranger, visit

The N.C. Forest Service offers the following tips to protect property and prevent wildfires:

  • Consider 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 compost or mulch instead.
  • Check local burning laws. Some communities allow burning only during specified hours. Others forbid it entirely.
  • Make sure you have a valid permit. You can obtain a burn permit at any open authorized permitting agent or online at
  • Local fire officials can recommend a safe way to burn debris. Don’t pile vegetation on the ground. Instead, place it in a cleared area and contain it in a screened receptacle away from overhead branches and wires. Keep your pile small, not tall.
  • Stay informed about the weather and possible weather changes. Postpone outdoor burning during high winds or gusts, or periods of low relative humidity. Even if you have a valid permit, stop burning if strong winds develop.
  • Be sure you are fully prepared before burning. To control the fire, you will need a hose, bucket, steel rake and a shovel for tossing dirt on the fire. Keep a phone nearby, too.
  • Never use kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel or other flammable liquids to speed up debris burning.
  • Stay with your fire until it is completely out.

To learn more about fire safety and preventing wildfires and property damage or loss, visit To learn more about actions you can take to prepare your home and property for wildfire, visit


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March 8, 2021

Prescribed burn planned for Tuesday on Big Island in Lake James

MARION - The N.C. Forest Service plans to conduct an 80-acre prescribed burn Tuesday, March 9, on Big Island. The goal of this burn is to reduce fuels in an area burned by wildfire in 2020.

Smoke is not expected to be a concern for areas surrounding the island due to the size of the prescribed burn and the weather forecast. To ensure safety, forestry personnel and response equipment will be on-site during the burn, and the area will be closed to the public.

“All prescribed burns are thoroughly planned and analyzed by a team of specialists to ensure that wildlife, fisheries, rare plants and historic sites are not harmed. Wind and relative humidity are key factors in fire behavior, safety and smoke control,” said Weston VanDenabeele, county ranger with the N.C. Forest Service. “Prescribed burning will only occur when environmental conditions permit.”

Prescribed fire is the planned use of fire under predetermined weather and fuel parameters to obtain specific management objectives. Many of our forest ecosystems require fire to remain healthy and thrive. This is a critical management tool that benefits forests and wildlife and helps reduce the impact of wildfire hazards in North Carolina.

To learn more about the benefits of prescribed fire, visit


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March 5, 2021

Prescribed burn planned for Friday on Wildlife Resources Commission property in Manteo

MANTEO - The N.C. Forest Service plans to conduct a 780-acre prescribed burn Friday, March 5, along Route 64, inbound to Nags Head, on marshland managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. The goals of this burn are to benefit the forest environment, improve wildlife habitat and reduce fuels in areas where homes and structures are at risk in the event of a wildfire.

This prescribed burn is one of many planned for this area during 2021. Regular burns promote the growth of marsh grasses, suppress woody vegetation and prevent closure of small waters holes critical for waterfowl.

Residents and others should drive carefully when in the burn area along Route 64. To ensure safety, agency personnel and equipment will be on-site during the burn, and the burn area will be closed to the public.

“All prescribed burns are thoroughly planned and analyzed by a team of specialists to ensure that wildlife, fisheries, rare plants, and historic sites are not harmed. Wind and relative humidity are key factors in fire behavior, safety and smoke control,” said John Cook, district forester with the N.C. Forest Service. “Prescribed burning will only occur when environmental conditions permit.”

There are multiple cooperating agencies involved in this prescribed burn including the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Dare County Emergency Management, N.C. Department of Transportation, N.C. State Highway Patrol, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Navy.

Prescribed fire is the planned use of fire under predetermined weather and fuel parameters to obtain specific management objectives. Many of our forest ecosystems require fire to remain healthy and thrive. This is a critical management tool that benefits forests and wildlife and helps reduce the impact of wildfire hazards in North Carolina. With 13.5 million acres, North Carolina leads the nation in wildland urban interface, which is where human development meets undeveloped wildland, forest or vegetative fuels.

To learn more about the benefits of prescribed fire, visit


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March 1, 2021

Dupont State Recreational Forest bridge named in honor of Bill Yarborough

RALEIGH, NC- Agricultural Commissioner Steve Troxler honored longtime N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services employee Bill Yarborough by naming the Dupont State Recreational Forest Little River Access Bridge in his honor. Yarborough recently retired after 35 years of service in Western North Carolina.

“This bridge would not be here without Bill’s dedication, determination and strong desire to improve this forest for the citizens of Western North Carolina,” Troxler said. “Bill has always made it his top priority to make sure folks in Western North Carolina were heard. This part of the state has benefitted from his years of work and will continue to benefit from the legacy of service he has left. It is very fitting that we leave this legacy for him.”

The pedestrian bridge across the Little River was completed during the summer of 2013. “For roughly a year, Bill rolled up his sleeves and worked tirelessly with the N.C. Department of Transportation and other partners to make this project happen,” said Scott Bissette, assistant commissioner. “If it wasn’t for Bill’s efforts, the bridge project would not have happened as quickly.”

With the increase in visitation experienced at Dupont State Recreational Forest, the bridge has provided visitors who park in the Hooker Falls Access parking areas with a safe passage. “This bridge has served a critical need, resolving a longstanding public safety issue for millions of visitors crossing a highly-used highway to access the forest,” said Jason Guidry, forest supervisor.

In addition to the bridge naming, Yarborough received an ambassador of agriculture award for his committed service to Western North Carolina.

“I don’t believe there is anyone as passionate about and committed to Western North Carolina communities as Bill Yarborough, and that is evidenced by the many projects he has spearheaded and seen completed over the years,” Troxler said. “Bill has been relentless in his work, whether he was involved in projects to expand and add much-needed facilities at DuPont State Recreational Forest, fostering public-private partnerships to make $4 million worth of upgrades to the Western N.C. Ag Center and WNC Farmers Markets, or encouraging support for hemlock restoration efforts.”

In addition to those activities, some of Yarborough’s career highlights include: helping distribute direct relief payments for farmers through Operation Brighter Day following back-to-back hurricanes in 2004; leading a hay relief/livestock feed effort during a devastating drought in 2006; supporting critical agriculture and conservation efforts in Western N.C. through the distribution of Tennessee Valley Authority settlement funds in 2014; overseeing departmental efforts to support healthy bee populations by expanding pollinator habitats statewide; and assisting with the planning and development of Mountain Island Educational State Forest.

“Bill’s list of accomplishments, recognitions and awards is extensive, but one of his greatest contributions is bringing people and groups together collaboratively to make projects happen,” Troxler said. “If someone said it could not be done, Bill was determined to show them it could. If you look around Western N.C., you will see plenty of projects that are examples of that.”


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February 18, 2021

Winter storm brings ice, freezing rain, potential for damaged and downed trees across North Carolina

RALEIGH, NC- Ice and freezing rain can be common weather events during the winter months. These types of weather events can severely impact trees and forested areas across the state. The N.C. Forest Service urges property owners and anyone preparing for or cleaning up after a storm to be cautious and think safety first.

“If you’re out preparing trees for a winter storm or cleaning up after one, be extra cautious,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “If you’re a landowner with concerns about your woodlands, you have resources available to help you with a plan for managing damaged trees and timber. Contact your county ranger or a consulting forester.”

If you are a property owner preparing for a winter storm or cleaning up after one, here are some helpful tips and guidelines:

Before the Storm

  • Prevention is key. Properly pruned trees with strong branch attachments will hold up better in an ice storm.
  • Prune branches with weak attachments, co-dominant trunks and other defects. Hire a qualified arborist to ensure trees are pruned properly. Look for tree service companies with a certified arborist on staff and/or Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) accreditation.
  • Do not top your tree. Topped trees will quickly regrow new branches which are weakly attached and more likely to break during storms.
During the Storm
  • Safety first! Stay indoors in a safe place. Your safety is most important.
  • Do not attempt to knock ice or snow from branches. This will likely cause the branch to break, possibly injuring you. Branches are designed to bend and stretch. Quick shocks or instant bends will cause them to break more easily rather than bending slowly.
  • Do not spray water on a tree, attempting to melt ice or snow, as it will likely add more weight to the tree.
  • Do not try to prop up bending or sagging limbs.
  • Do not touch limbs that may be in contact with power lines.
After the Storm
  • Wait until ice or snow has melted before cleaning up.
  • Cleaning up downed debris presents many safety risks. First, assess safety conditions of your family, home and neighborhood. There may be a debris field, making for poor footing. There may be potentially downed power lines. If electrical wires are an issue, do not attempt tree work. Contact your utility company and let them remove the electrical wires.
  • Only attempt to clean up minor tree debris.
  • Wait until ice or snow has melted before cleaning up.
  • Operating a chainsaw on storm-damaged trees is dangerous. Historically, more people are injured by chainsaws than the storm that caused the tree damage. Never operate a chainsaw alone and always operate a chainsaw in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Work only on the ground, and always wear personal protective equipment such as a hard hat, a full-face shield or safety goggles, and hearing protection. Be aware of cutting any branches under tension or pressure.
  • Avoid leaving broken limbs on your tree. All broken or torn parts of the tree should be properly pruned. A proper pruning cut will promote sealing off the wound and reduce further threat of decay or excessive sprouting.
  • Hire an arborist with experience in storm restoration pruning.
  • Consider hiring an arborist with Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) to fully evaluate the condition of your tree(s) after a damaging storm.

Choose a qualified and insured tree service or consulting arborist. To find qualified arborists in your area, visit The International Society of Arboriculture, the American Society of Consulting Arborists, or the Tree Care Industry Association.

For more information and advice on proper tree care and tree assessment following a storm, visit NCFS Damage Recovery. Additional advice on proper tree care can be found on the N.C. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program webpage or by calling 919-857-4842. To find contact information for your local NCFS county ranger, visit


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January 22, 2021

Urban and Community Forestry grant applications now available

RALEIGH, NC- The N.C. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program began accepting applications for its annual grant program beginning Jan. 1, 2021. The deadline for submitting applications is 5 p.m. EST, March 31, 2021. This grant program provides funding for projects that will enhance the benefits and sustainable management of urban forests in North Carolina communities.

Eligible projects include:

  • Tree inventories and canopy cover assessments;
  • Management plan development;
  • Ordinance development;
  • Professional staff and development;
  • Education and training; and,
  • Advocacy group development

Grant funds are available for local and state government entities, public educational institutions, nonprofits and other tax-exempt organizations. Applicants can request $2,500 to $15,000 in grant funding. Grant funding covers 50% of project costs and requires matching funds or in-kind efforts. Projects should encourage citizen involvement in creating and sustaining urban and community forestry programs. Projects must be completed within an 11-month project schedule beginning September 2021 and ending July 31, 2022.

To learn more about the NCFS Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program and to access grant application instructions and a copy of the Request for Proposals, visit the Urban and Community Forestry section of the N.C. Forest Service website.

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