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NCFS

Newsdesk - 2021


June 3, 2021

N.C. Forest Service to demobilize incident management team and firefighting resources June 3


LUMBERTON - Based on precipitation amounts across the region yesterday, all firefighting personnel and equipment will demobilize June 3, returning to their home districts.

“Everyone got something in terms of rainfall,” said Michael Good, district forester for the Fayetteville district. Farther east toward the Coastal Plain, some areas received as much as four inches of rainfall. According to the National Weather Service, continued showers and thunderstorms are expected across the region June 3, with several North Carolina counties under a flash flood watch.

After demobilizing firefighting resources later today, the N.C. Forest Service Red incident management team will cease operations and close the incident command post that began operating out of Lumberton more than a week ago. Red Team members will return home Saturday.

 

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June 2, 2021

Incident management team and resources demobilizing, expecting widespread rain the next several days


LUMBERTON - Behind Gulf moisture and an approaching cold front, North Carolina will likely receive successive days of significant, widespread rain which will help extinguish any ongoing and new fires across the region. In preparation, the N.C. Forest Service is demobilizing its incident management team, firefighting personnel and equipment resources.

“When rain comes daily and accumulates beyond an inch or more, that is the widespread rain we need to finish this type of assignment,” said Mark Bost, planning section chief for the N.C. Forest Service Red incident management team. “Forecast rain will also steer our section to demobilize as many firefighting resources as we can. Accomplishing that safely is the team’s priority.”

Some incident management team members working out of the incident command post in Lumberton were demobilized earlier this week, with 27 additional firefighting personnel demobilizing June 2 and another 34 firefighting personnel demobilizing tomorrow.

Depending on the arrival of rain as forecast, remaining incident management team members will hold in place until Friday, at which time they will demobilize, closing the incident command post in Lumberton and returning home. Until then, the team will continue providing logistical support to five forest service districts.

To track daily wildfire activity and emergency response in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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June 2, 2021

Burn ban lifted for 26 North Carolina counties as conditions begin to improve


RALEIGH - Effective at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 2, the N.C. Forest Service has lifted a ban on all open burning for the following counties in North Carolina: Anson, Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and Wayne. The burn ban went into effect May 24 due to hazardous forest fire conditions in the area.

“Recent rainfall across central and eastern North Carolina has decreased fire danger,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “With more rain expected across the area through the weekend, we should see even more improvement. Still, residents should burn responsibly. Check for restrictions before burning, and make sure you have a valid permit. Check the weather, and never leave a debris fire unattended.”

As of 5 p.m., burn permits are available in all counties. You can obtain a burn permit from any open authorized permitting agent or online at www.ncforestservice.gov/burnpermit. All burn permits previously granted in the 26 counties affected by this burn ban were canceled when the ban became effective. A valid permit must be obtained.

Residents with questions regarding their specific county can contact their N.C. Forest Service county ranger or their county fire marshal’s office. To find contact information for your local NCFS county ranger, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

 

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June 1, 2021

Fewer wildfires and citations issued in 26 counties under a state burn ban


LUMBERTON - The weekly weather forecast and fire reports from forest service districts are improving. Beginning Wednesday and continuing through the weekend, precipitation will dampen all forest fuels including larger fuels like downed tree limbs. Depending on the amount of rainfall across the region, drought conditions should improve.

N.C. Forest Service law enforcement personnel continue issuing citations for burn ban violations. Two citations, the most in the region, were issued to property owners in the Fayetteville district. “The message is getting out about penalties for willfully burning during the current ban. We do want people to know that the N.C. Forest Service is evaluating the burn ban situation daily,” said Greg Smith, Red Team incident commander. “Before individuals burn, they should be vigilant and ensure that there are no burning restrictions in their local area.”

The following are wildfire activities and response across the region Monday, May 31:

  • Five new fires burned 1.5 acres in the Rockingham forest service district.
  • Four new fires burned 1.1 acres in the Fayetteville district.
  • Two new fires burned 0.3 acres in the Whiteville district.
  • No new fires reported in the New Bern district or in Wayne and Greene counties located in the Rocky Mount district.

Two new fires were successfully identified Monday during N.C. Forest Service patrol flights. The fires were likely caused by lightning strikes and were small, much like the other new fires across the region.

To track daily wildfire activity and emergency response in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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May 31, 2021

Cooler temperatures and damp weather provide relief for the region and firefighting personnel


LUMBERTON - Noticeably cooler temperatures and continued cloud cover kept humidity levels up Sunday, providing much needed moisture for forest fuels. Temperatures remained cool Monday morning with relative humidity remaining high at 80-90%.

This two-day period of improved weather conditions resulted in few new fires across five forest service districts, including the 26 burn-ban counties. Firefighting personnel continued to mop-up and monitor existing fires, including the Frances Fire located in a small portion of Hofmann Forest in Onslow County.

Due to a low cloud deck Sunday, conditions were not favorable for flight. The N.C. Forest Service is conducting patrol flights Monday, looking for any new fires that may have resulted from a lightning event Saturday. Additional patrol flights will be conducted Tuesday, following a good drying day. After patrol flights, personnel and equipment needs will be assessed and adjusted accordingly dependent upon future weather conditions and detection of new fires.

Fire officials expect weather to help keep wildfire activity lower through the week. According to the National Weather Service, rain and thunderstorms are likely across the region Wednesday and into the weekend. Rain should dampen fuels further, possibly lessening drought conditions across the region.

To track daily wildfire activity and emergency response in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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May 30, 2021

Thunderstorms and scattered rainfall decrease wildfire activity across the region


LUMBERTON - Thunderstorms and rainfall provided much needed relief for the region from Statesville to the Outer Banks, providing much needed relief for Forest Service firefighting personnel. While precipitation was scattered across the region, ranging from 2-3 inches in one area to barely a trace in others, the passing cold front will favorably impact forest fuels for a short period.

“Today will be unseasonably cool and mostly cloudy,” said Richard Cockerham, situation unit leader for the N.C. Forest Service Red incident management team. “Last night’s rainfall and today’s higher humidity levels will dampen the fine fuels, which should result in less new fires. The downside to the storm activity was lightning, as we had hundreds of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes overnight. Some of those strikes may ignite and smolder forest fuels for hours or even days until the weather dries out and warms up again, which is expected to happen over the next few days.” Rain and thunderstorms are expected midweek across the region.

The state’s ban on open burning remains in effect for 26 counties in southeastern North Carolina. Campfires, fireworks and other sources of open flame remain prohibited in those counties until further notice.

Forest Service firefighters will continue mop-up of existing fires and preparing equipment and resources for any new fires that occur across the region. The N.C. Forest Service Red team based in Lumberton continues to provide planning, operations, logistics and finance support across the region. To date, there are 103 incident personnel assigned and total incident cost is nearly $350,000.

To track daily wildfire activity and emergency response in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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May 29, 2021

Wildfire activity increases across eastern North Carolina due to Friday’s weather conditions


LUMBERTON - N.C. Forest Service personnel responded to an increase in fire activity Friday across eastern North Carolina due to fire weather. Temperature, relative humidity and wind all presented conditions conducive to wildfire.

“Wind was the added ingredient that elevated fire potential yesterday,” said Kenny Griffin, operations section chief for the N.C. Forest Service Red Incident Management Team. “Winds were sustained at 13 mph, gusting at times to more than 20 mph. That was the difference yesterday. When the winds blow, our firefighters are challenged to stay ahead of fires. Winds make fire move faster and burn hotter. We did come out of yesterday with a win because we were able to keep the fires small during difficult weather conditions.”

The following are wildfire activities and response across the region Friday, May 28:

  • Four new fires in the Rockingham forest service district
  • 17 new fires in the Fayetteville district
  • Nine new fires in the Whiteville district
  • Four new fires in the New Bern district
  • Eight new fires in the Rocky Mount district
  • No new fires reported in Wayne and Greene counties

Rain showers and thunderstorms may bring some relief to the region this weekend, with Saturday’s forecast offering the best chance for rainfall to dampen dry fuels, decrease temperatures and increase humidity. According to the National Weather Service, the rain outlook improves for the region through Saturday afternoon and evening. With a passing cold front, Sunday is expected to be overcast and much cooler, possibly providing potential relief for firefighters on the ground. To date, 98 staff are assisting and supporting response efforts.

To track daily wildfire activity and emergency response in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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May 28, 2021

‘Poolside Pests’ program encourages pool owners to look for and report nonnative insects


RALEIGH - Nonnative invasive pests are an increasing threat to our agricultural systems and forests. In recent years, invasive species have caused widespread mortality; for example, the emerald ash borer killing ash trees, hemlock woolly adelgid killing hemlock, and laurel wilt disease killing redbay and sassafras. “Two more nonnative invasive pests are at North Carolina’s doorstep – the Asian longhorned beetle recently found in South Carolina and the spotted lanternfly recently found in Virginia,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Both insects could cause devastating losses to North Carolina’s forests, agriculture and landscapes.”

‘Poolside Pests’ is a program aimed at increasing awareness of Asian longhorned beetle and spotted lanternfly and is so named because these pests are attracted to water and may be found in pools and pool filters. Pools across the state can serve as traps for these pests and North Carolinians are encouraged to report the pests if they see them. Early detection is critical because management tactics are most successful when a new invasion is detected and reported quickly.

While the ‘Poolside Pests’ program targets pool owners and managers, it’s important that everyone keeps an eye out because these insects can be found anywhere.

The Asian longhorned beetle is native to Asia and was first found in the U.S. in the mid-90s in New York. It has since popped up sporadically across the Northeast and Midwest until last year when it was found in the South for the first time and much closer to North Carolina than ever before. It attacks many species of hardwood trees but prefers maple.

The spotted lanternfly is native to Southeast Asia and was first found in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in 2014. It is quickly expanding its range and, in 2018, was detected in Virginia and continues to spread toward North Carolina. It is a significant nuisance pest and a major pest of agriculture, specifically grapevines, fruit trees, hops and many tree species.

All North Carolinians are encouraged to learn how to recognize and report these pests by going to www.poolsidepests.com. If you suspect you have found one of these pests, click on the Report a Pest link on this page.

‘Poolside Pests’ is a collaborative effort between the Plant Industry Division, N.C. Forest Service and N.C. State University Cooperative Extension. .

 

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May 28, 2021

Forest Service personnel to closely monitor conditions through the weekend; prepared to issue citations for campfires and other burning violations


LUMBERTON - With drought conditions extending toward the Foothills, fire officials are concerned about campfires and other sources of open flame across the state, especially in the 26 counties currently under a state burn ban that remains in effect until further notice.

“Campfires are prohibited in the burn-ban counties, and with a holiday weekend and many people moving around outdoors, we are prepared for that to be a challenge the next several days,” said Jeff Burns, head of the N.C. Forest Service law enforcement division. “It’s important to be informed and situationally aware because campfires can come at a price during a burn ban.”

Individuals found to be in violation of a state burn ban are subject to a $100 fine plus $183 court costs. Any person responsible for setting a fire may be liable for any expenses related to putting that fire out as well as any property damage that results from an escaped fire.

Due to fire danger and the state’s ban on open burning, campfire restrictions are in effect for many popular destinations in eastern North Carolina. For information about campfire restrictions implemented by the Croatan National Forest effective May 28 and until further notice, visit www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nfsnc/alerts-notices/?aid=66205. For information about North Carolina state parks affected by the 26-county burn ban, visit www.ncparks.gov. Before burning a backyard campfire within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling, check with your local fire marshal about local ordinances or restrictions that may apply.

To track daily wildfire activity and emergency response in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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May 28, 2021

Fireworks restricted in 26 counties due to burn ban; fire officials urge caution


RALEIGH - The 26-county burn ban enacted May 24 prohibits fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices. With nearly half the state in moderate drought status and little rain in the forecast, N.C. Forest Service officials urge North Carolinians statewide to be cautious and to avoid unnecessary risk with fire.

“Fireworks and holiday weekends are often enjoyed together, but using fireworks during a drought can be disastrous,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Forest Service personnel are already battling multiple wildfires, some new and others ongoing, in southeastern North Carolina. There is a little bit of rain in the forecast, and we’ll keep an eye on that, looking for significant improvement in those drought conditions. Until then, fireworks are not a risk we can take in those 26 counties currently under the burn ban, and we strongly urge anyone outside those counties to think twice about using fireworks this weekend.”

Since the burn ban took effect, the N.C. Forest Service has responded to more than 70 wildfires, some, but not all, occurring in burn-ban counties.

For more information about the current 26-county burn ban, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/news_pubs/newsdesk_2021.htm#05242021. To track daily wildfire activity and emergency response in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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May 27, 2021

Half of North Carolina now in moderate drought status, high fire danger for holiday weekend


LUMBERTON - According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Elizabeth City and the surrounding area in the North Coastal Plain remain abnormally dry while moderate drought status continues for most of the Coastal Plain, Sandhills and now some of the Piedmont.

North Carolina fire officials continue closely monitoring daily conditions. “When drought expands across the state, we have more fires,” said State Forester David Lane during his visit to the N.C. Forest Service incident command post in Lumberton. “We’re working multiple fires in our southernmost counties. By the time we get one out cold, we have several new fires pop up. We need residents to take precautions and to be vigilant in preventing wildfires.”

N.C. Forest Service personnel are working six new and five ongoing wildfires in the Whiteville forest service district which includes Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin, New Hanover and Pender counties. Open burning is banned in all six counties under the state’s 26-county burn ban enacted Monday, May 24. Individuals found to be in violation of the state burn ban are subject to a $100 fine plus court costs, and can be liable for any expenses related to property damage and extinguishing the fire.

To track daily wildfire activity and emergency response in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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May 26, 2021

Fire danger remains high for Piedmont and Coastal Plain, weekend rain may bring temporary relief


LUMBERTON - Moderate drought conditions continue to impact about half of North Carolina, Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Greenville and Wilmington. While the week is expected to remain hot and dry, an approaching cold front and thunderstorms may bring some relief to the region for the weekend.

Open burning remains restricted for 26 North Carolina counties as a result of the state’s burn ban enacted Monday, May 24. This 26-county area is equivalent in size to Massachusetts and New Hampshire combined.

Wildfire activity and response across the region Tuesday, May 25:

  • There were 25 fires in 12 of the 26 counties currently restricted by the state’s ban on open burning.
  • N.C. Forest Service personnel provided emergency response consisting of initial attack, extended attack and varying degrees of mop-up which makes a fire safe or reduces residual smoke after a fire has been controlled.
  • Brunswick and Craven counties experienced the most wildfire activity in the region with four fires occurring in each county.

The N.C. Forest Service incident management team operating out of Lumberton continues to provide operational and logistical support for firefighting personnel and equipment responding to fires. The Incident Management Team will continue to closely monitor fuel complexity and weather conditions across the region as lightning ignitions are a concern associated with thunderstorm activity.

 

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May 25, 2021

N.C. Forest Service mobilizes Incident Management Team in response to elevated fire danger


LUMBERTON - With continued regional drought conditions and high fire potential across southeastern North Carolina, the N.C. Forest Service has mobilized a state incident management team in Lumberton to provide logistical support for any needed fire response.

The command post is based out of the Southeastern Agricultural Center, located off U.S. Highway 74 East. The IMT will assist local initial attack personnel responding to any new fires in Rockingham, Fayetteville, New Bern and Whiteville forest service districts. The team is also providing support to the Rocky Mount district, specifically Greene and Wayne counties.

“When we have prolonged drought in the South Coastal Plain and Sandhills, the organic soils dry out and support combustion,” said Incident Commander Greg Smith. “A surface fire can ignite the soils below, and those soils can burn and smolder for many days or weeks until the region receives significant rainfall.”

Except for hit-or-miss thunderstorm activity, no significant precipitation is expected across the region this week.

The N.C. Forest Service Red Team will operate seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., until further notice. The primary objectives are to provide operational and organizational planning, logistical support and financial tracking. The team does plan to provide daily updates to media outlets on activities. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and span of the region, the IMT is making use of new, virtual technologies, allowing remote management and oversight of the resources assisting on the ground and across the region.

For more information about team operations and regional fire severity, contact the IMT public information officer at 919-218-3179.

 

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May 24, 2021

Burn ban issued for 26 North Carolina counties due to hazardous forest fire conditions


RALEIGH- Due to increased fire risk, the N.C. Forest Service has issued a ban on all open burning and has canceled all burning permits for the following North Carolina counties: Anson, Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and Wayne.

The burning ban goes into effect at noon Monday, May 24, and will remain in effect until further notice.

“Our state is getting drier and hotter, and wildfires like those conditions,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “These conditions coming during spring wildfire season when wildfire activity and fire risks are already elevated, make this burn ban necessary to protect life and property in North Carolina.”

Under North Carolina law, the ban prohibits all open burning in the affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was previously issued. The issuance of any new permits has also been suspended until the ban is lifted. Anyone violating the burn ban faces a $100 fine plus $183 court costs. Any person responsible for setting a fire may be liable for any expenses related to extinguishing the fire.

Local fire departments and law enforcement officers are assisting the N.C. Forest Service in enforcing the burn ban.

The N.C. Forest Service will continue to monitor conditions. Residents with questions regarding a specific county can contact their N.C. Forest Service county ranger or their county fire marshal’s office.

Answers to frequently asked questions



Q: What is open burning?

A: Open burning includes burning leaves, branches or other plant material. In all cases, burning trash, lumber, tires, newspapers, plastics or other nonvegetative material is illegal.

Q: May I still use my grill or barbecue?

A: Yes, if no other local ordinances prohibit their use.

Q: How should I report a wildfire?

A: Call 911 to report a wildfire.

Q: How should I report a person who intentionally starts a wildfire?

A: Call 911 to report a wildfire.

Q: My local fire marshal has also issued a burn ban for my county. What does this mean?

A: The burn ban issued by the N.C. Forest service does not apply to a fire within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling. Local government agencies have jurisdiction over open burning within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling. The N.C. Forest Service has advised county fire marshals of the burning ban and has asked for their consideration of also implementing a burning ban. If a fire within a 100-foot area of a dwelling escapes containment, a North Carolina forest ranger may take reasonable steps to extinguish or control it. The person responsible for setting the fire may be liable for any expenses related to extinguishing the fire.

Q: Are there other instances which impact open burning?

A: Local ordinances and air quality regulations may impact open burning. For instance, outdoor burning is prohibited in areas covered by Code Orange or Code Red air quality forecasts. Learn more about air quality forecasts at https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/air-quality/air-quality-outreach-education/air-quality-forecasts.

Q: Can I have a campfire when I go camping?

A: Campfires would be considered open burning and are not exempt from the burn ban. During a burn ban, portable gas stoves or grills are alternate methods for cooking food while camping.

Q: What can I do to protect my house against the risk of wildfire?

A: Learn about wildfire risk assessments and preparedness and prevention plans on the N.C. Forest Service website at https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/fc_wui.htm or https://www.resistwildfirenc.org/.

 

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May 21, 2021

With weather conditions raising fire risk, residents urged to postpone outdoor burning


RALEIGH - N.C. Forest Service officials urge the public to postpone any outdoor burning through early June. During the next two weeks as warmer, drier weather patterns continue across the state, fire danger will be high, and in some cases, extreme especially in the Coastal Plain and Sandhills.

“As our state continues to dry out and heat up, we need every North Carolinian to be mindful of fire danger and the increased risk of wildfire due to this warm, dry weather,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Be especially careful in Eastern North Carolina. Check local ordinances and alerts so that you remain aware of any local and state burning restrictions that are in effect or that may become effective in the coming days.”

More wildfires have occurred in North Carolina during 2021 than in all of 2020. “Last year, we had about 2,300 wildfires across the state, and this year, we’ve already exceeded that number by more than 200 wildfires,” said David Lane, state forester with the N.C. Forest Service. “We started the month of May with 72 wildfires occurring just one day after the National Weather Service had issued a red flag warning for most of North Carolina. We’re in spring wildfire season right now, a time when conditions are more favorable for wildfire and rapid spread. The warm, dry weather pattern at play amplifies risk. We must take extra precautions to protect our wildland urban interface, those residential and developed areas where forestland mingles with homes and people.”

The N.C. Forest Service offers the following guidelines and tips to help prevent wildfires:

  • Allowing a fire to escape or causing a fire will result in criminal penalty and possible civil action for any damages.
  • If you choose to burn, check local burning laws first. Some communities allow burning only during specified hours. Others forbid it entirely.
  • Make sure you have a valid permit, if one is required. You can obtain a burn permit at any open authorized permitting agent or online at www.ncforestservice.gov/burnpermit.
  • 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.
  • Don’t park vehicles on tall dry grass or vegetation. A vehicle’s undercarriage is hot and can start a wildfire.
  • Contact your 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 www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

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

 

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April 30, 2021

North Carolina Tree City USA communities working hard to preserve city trees, improve urban forests


RALEIGH - In 2020, 83 North Carolina communities earned Tree City USA designations, and 12 college and university campuses earned Tree Campus Higher Education designations. Five utilities earned Tree Line USA designations for 2021, based on activities completed in 2020. The N.C. Forest Service is proud to celebrate these communities, colleges and universities, and public and private utilities that make the commitment to improving care of city trees critical for protecting urban tree canopy cover.

“The urban forestry achievements of our communities are deserving of recognition because the hard work and sweat equity citizens put into planting and caring for trees will ensure our neighborhoods can become even cooler, cleaner and greener in the future,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

Tree City USA, Tree Line USA and Tree Campus Higher Education recognitions are achieved by meeting similar program requirements: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

“In addition to our 83 Tree Cities, six communities earned Tree City USA Growth Awards. Achieving any of these significant recognitions reaffirms a community’s commitment to not just healthy urban tree canopy but also to tree preservation, increased property values, clean air and water, management of stormwater runoff, and an overall better quality of life for us and future generations,” said Jennifer Rall, an urban forestry specialist with the N.C. Forest Service. “We thank our Tree City USA communities and are proud to support their efforts.”

The N.C. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program oversees the application and award process for Tree City USA, Tree Campus Higher Education, and Tree Line USA which are all under the Arbor Day Foundation umbrella. The Tree City USA program provides a framework for building an urban forestry program within a community and working toward sustainable and proactive management of a community’s tree resources. The Tree Campus Higher Education program supports effective tree management at two- and four-year accredited colleges and universities, encouraging best tree management practices on campuses and engaging the student population in the stewardship of campus tree resources. The Tree Line USA program recognizes best practices in public and private utility arboriculture, demonstrating how trees and utilities can coexist for the benefit of communities and citizens.

To learn more about these programs and how your community can participate, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/Urban/tcusa_programs.htm. For a list of communities, campuses and utilities recognized in 2020/2021, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/Urban/pdf/TCUSA_2020_Participants.pdf.

 

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April 29, 2021

Temporary closures ahead for popular Triple Falls Trail in DuPont State Recreational Forest


CEDAR MOUNTAIN - Throughout the month of May, visitors to DuPont State Recreational Forest, a popular destination for locals and out-of-towners, should expect several temporary closures for Triple Falls Trail. Exact dates and duration of the closures will vary and may be extended if weather conditions require it.

“Beginning in May, we’ll be working along Triple Falls Trail to specifically address the management of water flow and to remedy erosion issues that have occurred over time,” said Jane Dauster, recreational specialist at DSRF. “Heavy equipment will be required to complete some of this work, and temporarily closing this trail is our best means to ensure the work can be done safely, efficiently and with minimal impact to the visitor experience.”

While this work is underway on the forest, visitors should prepare to adjust plans and take alternate routes during visits. “Visitors should pay close attention to signage and barricades while exploring the forest. Referring to our general forest map, which is available on our website and in our information kiosks across the forest, can help visitors identify other trails to consider in the event Triple Falls Trail is closed during their visit. Trail closures are listed on our website, and we encourage visitors to check that information before arriving at the forest,” she added.

DSRF spans more than 12,400 acres and features spectacular waterfalls, unique ecological communities, lakes and an extensive trail system that offers around 82 miles of publicly accessible trails and roads across the forest. Triple Falls Trail is 0.4 miles of the DSRF trail system. For up-to-date information about trail closures, visit www.dupontstaterecreationalforest.com.

 

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April 26, 2021

Forestry programs and services available to help Yancey County landowners manage woodlands


RALEIGH - In North Carolina, 70% of private forestland, or 10.5 million acres, is owned by individuals and families, making them the largest group of forest owners in our state. Individual landowners are critical to the conservation and sustainability of North Carolina forests, and the N.C. Forest Service provides many programs and services to assist landowners with actively managing woodlands.

“Most individual landowners in North Carolina own woodlands for conservation, wildlife and beauty,” said Frank Blankenship, N.C. Forest Service Yancey County Ranger. “In Yancey County, our local N.C. Forest Service office can help landowners identify objectives for actively managing forestland and benefit from the many programs and services available to them, which really starts with a woodland plan.”

A woodland plan, also known as a forest management plan, is customized for a landowner’s unique property and interests and is a roadmap for achieving the landowner’s goals and objectives. There are numerous financial and environmental benefits attached to a woodland plan. “Landowners may be able to take advantage of significant property tax savings through the present use value program, and cost share assistance for forestry practices such as tree-planting and site preparation can really help with out-of-pocket expenses,” Blankenship said. Woodland plans also help landowners manage for wildlife and income.

The N.C. Forest Service offers a variety of woodland plans for landowners. Forest management and forest stewardship plans can provide comprehensive recommendations for managing woodlands. Simpler practice plans can focus on specific management activities such as harvests, tree planting and prescribed burning. “Many landowners work hard for their land without realizing that the land could be working harder for them. Our Yancey County office takes pride in helping landowners with that and with leaving a legacy for their families,” he said. “It starts with that woodland plan. Contact us, and we’ll get you started.”

Go to www.ncforestservice.gov/Managing_your_forest/why_do_i_need_a_plan.htm for more information. To contact the N.C. Forest Service Yancey County office, call 828-682-6788 or email Yancey.ncfs@ncagr.gov.

 

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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 www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

 

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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 www.ncforestservice.gov/burnpermit.

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 www.ncforestservice.gov 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 www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

A map showing laurel wilt detections throughout North Carolina is available at www.ncforestservice.gov/forest_health/pdf/Map_LW_NCTracking.pdf.

 

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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 www.ncforestservice.gov/Urban/Urban_Forestry.htm. 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 www.ncforestry.org. Additional helpful resources include the N.C. Urban Forest Council at www.ncufc.org, NCSU Extension Forestry at https://forestry.ces.ncsu.edu, and North Carolina Project Learning Tree at https://forestry.ces.ncsu.edu/ncplt/. 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 www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

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 www.ncforestservice.gov/burnpermit.
  • 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 www.ncforestservice.gov. To learn more about actions you can take to prepare your home and property for wildfire, visit www.resistwildfirenc.org.

 

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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 www.ncforestervice.gov/goodfire.

 

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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 www.ncforestervice.gov/goodfire.

 

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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 www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

 

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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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