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NCFS

Newsdesk - 2022


September 18, 2022

Turnbull Creek Educational State Forest hosting Birds and Snakes workshop with Wildlife Resources Commission on National Public Lands Day


ELIZABETHTOWN - On Saturday, September 24 from 1-5 p.m., join the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the N.C. Forest Service for a Birds and Snakes workshop. Participants will discover a variety of bird species along the trails of Turnbull Creek Educational State Forest. Birding during the fall migration is an exciting opportunity to wish our spring migrants a safe journey to their wintering grounds and catch some final glimpses of them in our coastal North Carolina habitats. It also provides a wonderful chance to discover our resident species and learn how habitat impacts where certain species are found. Learn to use habitat clues, brush up on identification tricks, bird behavior and develop a sixth sense for where to find birds using eBird and Merlin to ensure a successful journey each time you set out birding. Additional resources will be shared to help you have greater success and enjoyment as a birder!

Participants will also learn about native snake species in North Carolina! Live venomous and nonvenomous species will be examined up close, and participants will discuss the biology, ecology and habits of these amazing reptiles. Participants can even hold a nonvenomous snake if they wish.

This workshop and all resources are provided at no cost! Participants are asked to bring binoculars if possible, but pairs will be available for use at the workshop. This is an outdoor workshop and will require walking. Participants should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor conditions including bugs, heat and brush. Bring something to drink and eat if needed as well as sun and bug protection. The workshop will be held in the event of drizzling rain but will be canceled in a downpour. The same applies to birding.

Preregistration is required. To register, please call or email Carrie McCullen at 910-588-4161 or carrie.mccullen@ncagr.gov.

Participants are eligible for Criteria II credits of N.C. OEE Environmental Education certification, and school teachers receive CEU credit.

Turnbull Creek ESF is located at 4803 Sweet Home Church Road in Elizabethtown. To learn more about the forest, visit www.ncesf.org/turnbull.html.

 

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September 7, 2022

Elm zigzag sawfly becomes newest invasive species in North Carolina


WESTFIELD - North Carolina’s newest invasive pest was recently found in Surry and Stokes counties by Elizabeth Edwards, NCFS assistant county ranger in Surry County. The detection was made just north of Pilot Mountain in the Westfield community. The elm zigzag sawfly had only been previously found in Québec, Canada in 2020 and Virginia in 2021. This pest is native to Asia but has spread to numerous countries outside of its native range.

“If you see a defoliating elm tree that you suspect is being impacted by this new invasive pest, note the location, try to safely photograph the insect and the leaves that have been eaten upon, and contact your local NCFS county ranger,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “As North Carolina’s list of invasive species gets a little longer, you can help us keep our forests healthy and thriving by reporting these bad bugs.”

“Although small, the elm zigzag sawfly can cause significant damage to elm trees due to their ability to rapidly increase population size,” said Brian Heath, NCFS forest health specialist. Elm zigzag sawflies can have multiple generations per year, as females reproduce without mating, which accelerates their population growth.

Typically, defoliation from an insect does not result in long-term health impacts to a tree. “Many native caterpillars defoliate trees in the spring and fall, and trees are generally able to recover. However, it is too early to determine if that is the case with this insect,” Heath said. As with the invasive spongy moth, repeated defoliation of a tree can result in weakened or stressed trees and in some cases, death.

Sawflies are a type of wasp that are unable to sting, making them harmless toward people and animals. They are named for their saw-like appendage used for egg-laying, and as young larvae they leave a “zigzag” pattern in the leaf when they feed. It is a small, green, caterpillar-like larva less than half an inch long and feeds exclusively on the leaves of elm trees.

Like other sawflies, adults are strong flyers which can lead to further spread from these established sites. “Homeowners within infested areas should take caution to prevent spreading the sawfly as they can hitchhike on plants or soil, or as cocoons attached to various objects,” Heath said.

People who suspect there is an infested tree in an area near them should contact their NCFS county ranger. To find contact information for your county ranger, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

 

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September 1, 2022

Clemmons Educational State Forest looks forward to hosting students this school year


CLAYTON - Clemmons Educational State Forest (ESF) is welcoming schools to schedule field trips during the fall and spring seasons. With the 2022-2023 school year officially underway, there are many field trip opportunities available, and the staff at Clemmons ESF looks forward to seeing students back again this year.

Clemmons ESF offers a variety of presentations that include program topics such as forest elements, soil, water and wildlife. There are no fees or admission costs associated with school field trips, and forest rangers are available to facilitate an assortment of programs and guided hikes for all students.

Picnic shelters are available to reserve for large groups to have lunch or in the event of inclement weather. Field trips typically occur between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. When programming concludes, school groups are welcome to stay and explore the forest for as long as time allows.

Clemmons ESF is located at 2256 Old US Highway 70 West in Clayton. The forest is also open to the public during hours of operation. Individual picnic sites are available for use on a first come, first served basis.

For more information about programs and services offered by the forest, please contact the forest office at 919-553-5651. To learn more about Clemmons ESF, visit https://www.ncesf.org/clemmons.html.

 

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August 22, 2022

N.C. Forest Service Pender County Ranger, District 8 personnel assume command of Juniper Road Two Fire


HAMPSTEAD - The incident management team that has been engaged in suppression efforts of the Juniper Road Two Fire will begin demobilizing Monday, Aug. 22. The Pender County ranger, with support from N.C. Forest Service District 8 personnel, will assume command of the fire.

Infrared drone flights will be conducted as needed to determine if any hot spots remain. Pender County personnel, along with NCFS aviation assets, will continue daily patrol of the fire area until it has been declared cold. The Juniper Road Two Fire remains 1,226 acres in size and is 90% contained.

The incident management team was comprised of N.C. Forest Service employees from various locations throughout the state who worked in conjunction with Pender County Emergency Management and other state agencies to minimize the fire’s impact to the community.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) remains in effect for the Juniper Road Two Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

For information updates, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

Detailed PIO Map: Juniper Road Two Fire

 

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August 19, 2022

N.C. Forest Service demobilizes certain resources with the Juniper Road Two Fire now 79% contained


HAMPSTEAD - The N.C. Forest Service has transitioned from a Type 2 incident management team to a Type 3 team with the Juniper Road Two Fire now 79% contained. Several personnel have been demobilized, but adequate resources remain on the scene to fight the fire. Expected rainfall on Friday, Aug. 19, and through the weekend will help crews work in the moisture to extinguish remaining hot spots that have been detected by infrared drones. The Juniper Road Two Fire remains 1,226 acres in size.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) remains in effect for the Juniper Road Two Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

For information updates, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

Detailed PIO Map: Juniper Road Two Fire

 

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August 18, 2022

Juniper Road Two Fire in Pender County now 77% contained


HAMPSTEAD - With the Juniper Road Two Fire now 77% contained, the N.C. Forest Service is preparing for demobilization of some resources. Operations personnel and a more condensed incident management team remain on the scene. The fire is 1,226 acres in size and will continue to be closely monitored by personnel as mop up operations continue.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) remains in effect for the Juniper Road Two Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

For information updates, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

Detailed PIO Map: Juniper Road Two Fire

 

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August 17, 2022

Juniper Road Two Fire still 1,226 acres in size, now 65% contained


HAMPSTEAD - Firefighting personnel have held the Juniper Road Two Fire to 1,226 acres in size over the last several days. The wildfire within the Holly Shelter Game Land in Pender County is now 65% contained. Crews continue to closely monitor the weather as significant heat continues to linger within the fire area.

As fire containment continues to increase, certain resources assigned to the incident are beginning to demobilize. NCFS has 81 personnel assigned to the incident with an additional low ground pressure track vehicle being ordered to assist in mop up operations.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) is in effect for the Juniper Road Two Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

For information updates, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

Detailed PIO Map: Juniper Road Two Fire

 

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August 16, 2022

Juniper Road Two Fire now 53% contained, remains 1,226 acres in size


HAMPSTEAD - The Juniper Road Two Fire within the Holly Shelter Game Land is now 53% contained. The fire remains 1,226 acres in size after Monday evening rainfall delivered one-half inch of rain on the fire area. Though rainfall totals will help extinguish the fire, incident personnel remain vigilant with firefighting efforts.

“We can’t get complacent. History tells us from previous wildfires in this area that the vegetation can dry out quickly and areas that are still smoldering within the fire imprint can reignite available fuels,” said Incident Commander Michael Cheek. “We’re grateful for the rain we’ve received, but we’re not turning our backs to this fire.”

With increased containment and rainfall, certain resources assigned to the incident are beginning to demobilize. Resources remaining on the incident include six tractor plows with six crewmen, one low ground pressure track vehicle, one scout and one lead plane, two single engine air tankers, one helicopter, and 62 NCFS personnel.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) is in effect for the Juniper Road Two Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

For information updates, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

Detailed PIO Map: Juniper Road Two Fire

 

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August 14, 2022

Juniper Road Two Fire now 43% contained


HAMPSTEAD - Crews fighting the Juniper Road Two Fire in Pender County have held the fire to 1,226 acres in size over the last few days and have now reached 43% containment. Aviation operations conducted water drops to extinguish smoldering pockets within the fire imprint. Predicted rainfall early this week should help fire suppression efforts.

NCFS personnel assigned to the Juniper Road Two Fire has increased to 59. Resources now include 14 tractor plows, two single engine air tankers, one helicopter, one low ground pressure track vehicle, one scout and one lead plane.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) is in effect for the Juniper Road Two Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

For information updates, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

Detailed PIO Map: Juniper Road Two Fire

 

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August 13, 2022

Juniper Road Two Fire remains 1,226 acres in size, Type II Incident Management Team assumes command


HAMPSTEAD - Firefighting efforts along with Friday afternoon rainfall have held the Juniper Road Two Fire to 1,226 acres in size and 25% containment. The rain, though helpful for drenching the fire, can prove challenging for equipment use and line construction around the fire perimeter. Pockets of unburned fuel and smoldering areas within the fire interior remain a concern for firefighters.

With recent change in weather conditions, lower relative humidity percentages have the potential to dry the fuels considerably. Forecast winds are expected to shift toward the southwest, likely pushing any smoke inland and away from Highway 50, but citizens are reminded that smoke conditions could still persist around the fire area into the evening and overnight hours.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) is in effect for the Juniper Road Two Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Operational resources working the fire include 14 tractor plow units with crewmen, one helicopter, one scout plane, and 56 IMT personnel.

For information updates, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

Detailed PIO Map: Juniper Road Two Fire

 

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August 12, 2022

Juniper Road Two Fire receives much needed rainfall, remains 25% contained


HAMPSTEAD - The Juniper Road Two Fire received one inch of rainfall on the fire area Friday afternoon, Aug. 12. Rainfall accumulation will help aid in extinguishing the wildfire on Holly Shelter Game Land but may temporarily impede use of equipment on fire lines. The fire is 1,226 acres in size due to additional mapping. Periods of rain are expected throughout the remainder of the day.

The N.C. Forest Service is bringing in a Type 2 Incident Management Team to assume command of fire operations beginning Saturday, Aug. 13.

“The presence of the Incident Management Team will allow us to bring in support staff to assist the existing operations personnel with their firefighting efforts,” said Michael Cheek, incident commander for the Type 2 team.

Personnel will continue to closely monitor changing weather conditions through the weekend as firefighters continue their containment operations. There are no structures threatened at this time. The public is being urged to remain vigilant and continue monitoring local news resources for additional information. Hazardous road conditions due to smoke and low cloud cover may be a factor during the evening and overnight hours.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) is in effect for the Juniper Road Two Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Operational resources working the fire include a dozen tractor plow units with crewmen, one helicopter, two single engine air tankers, one scout and lead plane and 31 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service.

For information updates, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

Detailed PIO Map: Juniper Road Two Fire

 

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August 12, 2022

Juniper Road Two Fire is 1,230 acres in size following more accurate mapping, remains 25% contained


HAMPSTEAD - Following more accurate mapping, the Juniper Road Two Fire is 1,230 acres in size and remains 25% contained as of Friday morning. The fire was caused by a lightning strike on Tuesday, Aug. 2, well within the interior of the game lands.

Thursday, Aug. 11, fire personnel continued to strengthen existing containment lines and plow additional lines to prevent forward spread of the fire. These efforts will continue throughout Friday. Occasional gusty winds and dry fuels led to minimal spot overs beyond the fire imprint, but cloudy skies and higher relative humidity helped hinder aggressive fire behavior and movement.

Friday’s forecast for incoming frontal passage and changing weather patterns will be closely monitored. There are no structures threatened at this time. The public is being urged to remain vigilant and continue monitoring local news resources. Hazardous road conditions due to smoke may be a factor during the evening and overnight hours.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) is in effect for the Juniper Road Two Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Operational resources working the fire include a dozen tractor plow units with crewmen, one helicopter, two single engine air tankers, one scout and lead plane and 31 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service.

For information updates, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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August 11, 2022

Juniper Road Two Fire in Pender County at 25% containment


HAMPSTEAD - As of 8 a.m., Aug. 11, the Juniper Road Two Fire is estimated to be 2,000 acres in size and at 25% containment after pushing beyond firelines on Wednesday, Aug. 10 and progressing east toward Highway 50. The Juniper Road Two Fire was caused by a lightning strike on Tuesday, Aug. 2, well within the interior of the game lands.

Fire personnel are conducting initial attack operations to reorganize containment lines and catch wind-driven spot over fires. Difficult terrain, changing weather patterns with wind gusts, low relative humidity and high heat index values remain a challenge for firefighting efforts. Currently, the fire remains about two miles west of Highway 50.

There are no structures threatened at this time. The public is being urged to remain vigilant and continue monitoring local news resources. Hazardous road conditions due to smoke may be a factor during the evening and overnight hours.

Operational resources working the fire include a dozen tractor plow units with crewmen, one helicopter, two single engine air tankers, one scout and lead plane and 21 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service.

The public is reminded to keep drones away from wildfires. While drones provide unique opportunities for aerial video and imagery of wildfire activity, they are unauthorized. Flying a drone near or around a wildfire compromises the safety of pilots and interferes with firefighting efforts.

For information updates, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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August 1, 2022

Forest management and practice plans, cost share assistance available to Avery County landowners


NEWLAND - Private landowners play a critical role in keeping forests healthy and growing, with 77% of timberland in Avery County being privately owned. Through programs and services offered by the N.C. Forest Service, woodland owners have access to a variety of forest management and practice plans designed to help protect forestland.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of plans we’ve prepared for Avery County landowners so far this year,” said Avery County Ranger D.J. Whitson. “It’s a reflection of how private landowners value their woodlands and how committed they are to protecting and growing them for future generations. The N.C. Forest Service can help landowners accomplish those goals.”

In addition to woodland management plans, landowners may be eligible for other plans that can provide tax incentives as well as access to cost share programs and assistance with specific forestry practices.

Plan options include:

  • Comprehensive woodland management plans that may help the landowner qualify for the Forestry Present-Use Value Program. This program can benefit some landowners with annual property tax savings.
  • A regeneration plan that can help maximize the amount of timber that will grow for the next stand and may provide cost share assistance to plant a harvested tract. Regeneration plans may include recommendations for site preparation, tree planting and/or natural regeneration.
  • Practice plans that address forestry practices such as thinning and prescribed burning.

“Forest rangers are here to help landowners navigate cost share programs and to provide forestry services and advice so that forestland in the county continues to provide benefits and value for landowners while driving those ecosystem services, like clean air and water, that we all depend on,” Whitson adds.

Avery County landowners interested in learning more about management plans, forestry programs and technical services should contact the N.C. Forest Service Avery County office at 828-766-8043 or Avery.ncfs@ncagr.gov. For helpful information about managing a forest, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/Managing_your_forest/managing_your_forest.htm.

 

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July 11, 2022

With Ferebee Road Fire fully contained, N.C. Forest Service demobilizing resources


PONZER - Crews combating the Ferebee Road Fire reached full containment Friday, July 8, and have since been in a holding phase to allow water time to seep into the soil of the fire area. The fire reached 1,938 acres in size following strategic firing operations Saturday, June 25, and firefighting personnel have held the acreage since.

The N.C. Forest Service have ceased water pumping operations after moving a combined 702 million gallons from New Lake and Phelps Lake into the surrounding canals and fire area. The 6 inches of rainfall received on the fire area last week not only aided firefighting efforts with penetrating water flow, but also helped replenish supply to the surrounding lakes. All tractors and pumps have been removed following the completion of water pumping operations.

Incident command staff have begun demobilizing resources and personnel that are no longer needed, with the intent to transition incident management to the local N.C. Forest Service district office later this week.

There are still no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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July 8, 2022

Ferebee Road Fire enters holding phase following days of successful water flow


PONZER - With the Ferebee Road Fire now 100% contained, firefighting operations will shift toward a holding phase over the next couple of days. Water flow into the fire area block has reached near capacity level following successful pumping operations. This holding phase will allow the water necessary time to sit in the block, soaking into the ground. More than 488 million gallons of water have been pumped from New Lake with an additional 136 million coming from Phelps Lake.

The fire area, along with the surrounding lakes, have continued to benefit from recent rainfall as one-quarter to a half-inch fell on the block Thursday evening.

While the fire is fully contained, the potential for continued ground fire and reburn still exists in the center area where water penetration is not as deep. Crews will continue to monitor the fire area closely throughout the holding phase. The fire remains 1,938 acres in size.

Hot and humid conditions will continue to present the biggest challenge for firefighting crews heading into the weekend.

There are still no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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July 7, 2022

Ferebee Road Fire now 90% contained due to successful water operations and some overnight rain


PONZER - Consistent water penetration into the fire area along with overnight showers have allowed firefighting crews to make significant progress on the Ferebee Road Fire. The fire area received one-quarter to an inch of rain overnight, helping to replenish nearby lakes that have been the main source for water pumping operations. A little more than 438 million gallons of water has been pumped from New Lake with 116 million coming from Phelps Lake.

Recent rainfall also provided the necessary moisture crews needed to continue repair efforts to the surrounding property roads.

The southwest corner of the fire area is being closely monitored by personnel as it has the most potential for new ground fire and reburn. The fire remains 1,938 acres in size.

While smoke and fog are no longer an area of concern, hot and humid conditions will present the biggest challenge for firefighting crews for the remainder of the week.

There are still no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

Operational resources working the fire include 91 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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July 5, 2022

Firefighting crews increase water flow into the Ferebee Road fire area


PONZER - Crews working the Ferebee Road Fire have increased water flow into the high ground of the fire area. 388 million gallons of water have been pumped from the canals near New Lake and another 87 million have been pumped from Phelps Lake.

The fire area received significant rainfall over the weekend, helping to soak the surrounding areas and decreasing the risk of flare ups and spot overs. The Ferebee Road Fire remains at 1,938 acres in size and is now 70% contained.

Crews have begun work to repair the surrounding property roads as rain and increased foot and vehicle traffic have gradually worn down its accessibility.

After battling the Ferebee Road Fire for two weeks, firefighting personnel received much deserved rest when the N.C. Forest Service transitioned operations to a new incident command staff Tuesday morning, bringing in fresh personnel and resources.

Minimal smoke and fog impacts are expected over the next two days.

There are still no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

Operational resources working the fire include 91 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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July 5, 2022

N.C. Forest Service offering tree seedlings for sale


RALEIGH - The North Carolina Forest Service is now accepting orders in its annual tree seedling sale. With an average annual production of 15 million seedlings, the Nursery and Tree Improvement Program produces enough native and genetically improved tree seedlings to plant around 30,000 acres of land each year.

“Healthy trees and forests are as important as ever for North Carolina and a benefit to our environment,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “To have a Nursery and Tree Improvement Program producing quality understory plants and nearly 50 native tree species available to landowners across the state is North Carolina’s good fortune, and I encourage landowners to take advantage of it.”

Conifers and hardwoods are sold in units as low as 10 and as high as 100. For those wishing to submit larger orders, the nursery sells tree seedlings by the hundreds and thousands. Momi fir, Eastern red cedar and Virginia pine are available this year. Genetically improved stock is available in loblolly, longleaf, shortleaf and white pines as well as other species. These seedlings offer better volume growth, form, disease resistance, straightness, and other characteristics needed to produce quality forest products. See the N.C. Forest Service catalog for a complete species listing.

How can you order tree seedlings from the NCFS Nursery and Tree Improvement Program?

  • Tree seedlings can be ordered from the online seedling store at www.buynctrees.com.
  • Tree seedlings can also be ordered by phone at 1-888-NCTREES (1-888-628-7337).
  • Tree seedlings can be ordered using the order form found in our current catalog. Complete the form and mail to Seedling Coordinator, 762 Claridge Nursery Road, Goldsboro, NC 27530.
  • A user-friendly catalog is available at the "Tree Seedlings & Nursery Program" link located at www.ncforestservice.gov. Catalogs will also be available at local NCFS offices beginning in July. Inside the catalog, landowners can find information about the types of tree species, quantities and cost to order. Each description includes information about ideal planting locations and whether a species is typically used to benefit wildlife, restore habitats or as marketable timber.
  • Accepted methods of payment are check, money order, Mastercard and Visa.

Distribution of tree seedlings will occur December through mid-April, depending on weather conditions. Seedling orders can be shipped to one of 13 distribution centers statewide for a small fee or via UPS for a charge. Seedling orders are also available for pickup from the NCFS Claridge Nursery in Goldsboro or the Linville River Nursery near Crossnore.

For information on planting trees, people are encouraged to contact an NCFS county ranger. Contact information for your local NCFS county office and nursery locations is available at www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

 

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July 3, 2022

Smoke impacts remain minimal from Ferebee Road Fire


PONZER - Crews have been able to hold the Ferebee Road Fire to 1,938 acres for the duration of one week. Fire containment is at 55% as the fire area is reaping the benefits of successful water operations.

Rain showers in the area Saturday evening and Sunday morning helped provided brief aid to firefighting crews while southerly winds continued to push smoke from the area.

Water flow from nearby canals is beginning to seep into the edges of the fire area. Pumping operations have pulled more than 300 million gallons of water from New Lake and 48 million from Phelps Lake.

There are still no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

Operational resources working the fire include 91 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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July 2, 2022

Ferebee Road Fire now 55% contained; smoke impacts expected to be minimal for remainder of the weekend


PONZER - The Ferebee Road Fire is now 55% contained with lines around the fire continuing to hold the area to 1,938 acres.

Southern wind movement from potential storm activity will help minimize smoke impacts and improve visibility.

Crews are still working on contingency lines in the northern fire area due to a few spot overs. Personnel reported having received 0.3 inch of rain overnight with the hope that more is on the way over the weekend.

The south end of the fire area is well inundated with water flow as pumping operations have pulled more than 275 million gallons from New Lake into the surrounding canals. Dramatic increase in water flow into the northern fire area from Phelps Lake has helped conditions improve. More than 28 million gallons have been pumped from Phelps Lake.

There are still no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

Operational resources working the fire include 91 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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July 1, 2022

Smoke and fog impact visibility Thursday evening and Friday morning; expected to continue into the weekend


PONZER - Impacts from the combination of smoke and fog created periodic visibility issues Thursday evening and during the Friday morning commute. Steady winds moving southwest continue to push smoke into the northeastern parts of North Carolina and parts of southeastern Virginia. Drivers are being reminded to slow down, exercise caution and allow extra travel time for alternate routes heading into the holiday weekend.

According to the National Weather Service, drivers should keep the following safety tips in mind if travel is necessary in foggy conditions:

  • Slow down. Allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • Make your vehicle visible to others in front of you and behind you. Use your low-beam headlights. Use fog lights if you have them.
  • Never use your high-beam lights. High-beam lights cause glares, making it more difficult to see what’s ahead of you on the road.
  • Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for sudden stops or change in traffic patterns.
  • To ensure you are staying in the proper lane, follow the lines on the road with your eyes.
  • In extremely dense fog where visibility is near zero, the best course of action is to first turn on your hazard lights, then simply pull into a safe location such as a parking lot of a local business and stop.
  • If there is no parking lot or driveway to pull into, pull your vehicle off to the side of the road as far as possible. Once you come to a stop, turn off all lights except your hazard flashing lights, set the emergency break, and take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the taillights are not illuminated so that other drivers don’t mistakenly run into you.

The Ferebee Road fire is 44% contained as strong lines around the area have held the fire to 1,938 acres over the last several days.

The south end of the fire area is well saturated as a result of water pumping operations that have pulled 225 million gallons of water from New Lake into the surrounding canals. Another 19 million has been pumped from Phelps Lake.

A few interior burning spots were discovered Thursday night near the northern fire area, but crews were quick to suppress those active spots.

There are still no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

Operational resources working the fire include 91 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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June 30, 2022

Water pumped from New Lake flowing into southern fire area; Ferebee Road Fire now 44% contained


PONZER - Containment lines continue to hold the Ferebee Road Fire to 1,938 acres, with containment climbing to 44%. More than 170 million gallons of water have been pumped from New Lake and are flowing into the southern fire area.

Impacts from the combination of smoke and fog created periodic visibility issues during the Thursday morning commute and drivers are being reminded to slow down, exercise caution and allow extra travel time for alternate routes.

According to the National Weather Service, drivers should keep the following safety tips in mind if travel is necessary in foggy conditions:

  • Slow down. Allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • Make your vehicle visible to others in front of you and behind you. Use your low-beam headlights. Use fog lights if you have them.
  • Never use your high-beam lights. High-beam lights cause glares, making it more difficult to see what’s ahead of you on the road.
  • Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for sudden stops or change in traffic patterns.
  • To ensure you are staying in the proper lane, follow the lines on the road with your eyes.
  • In extremely dense fog where visibility is near zero, the best course of action is to first turn on your hazard lights, then simply pull into a safe location such as a parking lot of a local business and stop.
  • If there is no parking lot or driveway to pull into, pull your vehicle off to the side of the road as far as possible. Once you come to a stop, turn off all lights except your hazard flashing lights, set the emergency break, and take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the taillights are not illuminated so that other drivers don’t mistakenly run into you.

There are still no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

Operational resources working the fire include 91 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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June 28, 2022

Containment lines around the Ferebee Road Fire hold firm against afternoon wind gusts


PONZER - Northern containment lines around the Ferebee Road Fire held firm against a southern wind push from Monday’s nearby afternoon storms, keeping the fire at 1,938 acres in size and 24% contained.

Water is now flowing from the canals near New Lake into the south end of the fire area.

Crews are nearing completion of pump installations at Gamble Road and expect to begin pumping water from Phelps Lake sometime Wednesday.

Smoke and fog impacts were minimal during the Tuesday morning commute and should remain low throughout Tuesday.

Operational resources working the fire include 83 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

There are no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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June 27, 2022

Winds pushing smoke from Ferebee Road Fire to the Northeast, improving visibility in the area


PONZER - The Ferebee Road Fire in Hyde County is currently 1,938 acres in size and 24% contained as of 3 p.m., June 27.

Visibility was not an issue during the Monday morning commute due to a southwest wind shift, pushing smoke out of the area.

Water handling operations have pumped 88 million gallons from New Lake toward the canal surrounding the fire area. Crews are working to have pumps installed at Gamble Road by end of shift today.

Personnel are closely monitoring the weather for potential wind gusts from afternoon storms that could push the fire.

Operational resources working the fire include 83 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

There are no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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June 26, 2022

Low visibility possible for Monday morning commute as crews continue work to contain Ferebee Road Fire


PONZER - As of 3 p.m., June 26, the Ferebee Road Fire is 1,936 acres and 20% contained, up from 12% following two days of successful firing operations to push the fire’s edge toward the road.

Significant smoke is possible and may result in tedious travel conditions Sunday evening into Monday morning. In the interest of safety, residents and commuters should allow for extra travel time or plan to take alternate routes. Overnight, a combination of smoke and fog could lead to low visibility in some areas.

Significant smoke along the Highway 264 and Highway 45 corridors between Rose Bay, Pantego and Ponzer may occur. Those needing to commute Monday morning should remain alert and attentive to signage. Road closures may be implemented as needed.

According to the National Weather Service, drivers should keep the following safety tips in mind if travel is necessary in foggy conditions:

  • Slow down. Allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • Make your vehicle visible to others in front of you and behind you. Use your low-beam headlights. Use fog lights if you have them.
  • Never use your high-beam lights. High-beam lights cause glares, making it more difficult to see what’s ahead of you on the road.
  • Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for sudden stops or change in traffic patterns.
  • To ensure you are staying in the proper lane, follow the lines on the road with your eyes.
  • In extremely dense fog where visibility is near zero, the best course of action is to first turn on your hazard lights, then simply pull into a safe location such as a parking lot of a local business and stop.
  • If there is no parking lot or driveway to pull into, pull your vehicle off to the side of the road as far as possible. Once you come to a stop, turn off all lights except your hazard flashing lights, set the emergency break, and take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the taillights are not illuminated so that other drivers don’t mistakenly run into you.

There continues to be no injuries and no structures damaged at this time. Operational resources working the fire include 83 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina State Parks, Hyde County Emergency Management, Hyde County Sheriff’s Department and Carolina Ranch.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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June 26, 2022

Strategic firing operations to continue on Ferebee Road Fire, low visibility expected for Monday morning commute


PONZER - After successful strategic firing operations yesterday, the Ferebee Rd. Fire in Hyde County is at 1,936 acres as of 9 a.m., June 26, with containment holding at 12%.

Firefighting crews will continue to conduct ground fire mop up operations, with water handling groups moving water from the Gamble Road pump station at New Lake into the fire area.

Water pumping operations from Phelps Lake are expected to begin Monday following an approved cooperative water sharing agreement between the N.C. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

With strategic firing operations to be ongoing Sunday, significant smoke is likely and may result in tedious travel conditions Sunday evening into Monday morning. In the interest of safety, residents and commuters should allow for extra travel time or plan to take alternate routes. Overnight, a combination of smoke and fog will lead to low visibility, possibly zero visibility for some areas.

Early Sunday morning, Highway 45 was temporarily closed for travel from Ponzer to Pungo due to smoke and fog. While Highway 45 is expected to reopen for travel some time Sunday, road closures may be implemented as needed due to low visibility and in the interest of public safety.

Significant smoke along the 264 and Highway 45 corridors between Rose Bay, Pantego and Ponzer should be expected. Those needing to commute Monday morning should remain alert and attentive to signage.

According to the National Weather Service, drivers should keep the following safety tips in mind if travel is necessary in foggy conditions:

  • Slow down. Allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • Make your vehicle visible to others in front of you and behind you. Use your low-beam headlights. Use fog lights if you have them.
  • Never use your high-beam lights. High-beam lights cause glares, making it more difficult to see what’s ahead of you on the road.
  • Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for sudden stops or change in traffic patterns.
  • To ensure you are staying in the proper lane, follow the lines on the road with your eyes.
  • In extremely dense fog where visibility is near zero, the best course of action is to first turn on your hazard lights, then simply pull into a safe location such as a parking lot of a local business and stop.
  • If there is no parking lot or driveway to pull into, pull your vehicle off to the side of the road as far as possible. Once you come to a stop, turn off all lights except your hazard flashing lights, set the emergency break, and take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the taillights are not illuminated so that other drivers don’t mistakenly run into you.

There continues to be no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road Fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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June 25, 2022

Firefighting personnel working Ferebee Road Fire to begin strategic firing operations


PONZER - Acreage and containment of the Ferebee Rd. Fire in Hyde County remain the same at 1,088 acres in size and 12% containment as of 9 a.m., June 25.

High volume water handling operations from New Lake began Friday, June 24. Concentrating on Gamble Road, water is being moved from the canal associated with New Lake to the fire area, spanning 4.5 miles.

Planned strategic firing operations include bringing the fire's edge to the road, helping crews better contain the fire. Significant increases in smoke along the 264 corridors between Rose Bay and Pantego should be expected. The combination of smoke and fog will lead to low visibility throughout the day, overnight and into Sunday.

There are no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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June 24, 2022

Ferebee Road Fire holding at 1,088 acres as water operations begin


PONZER - The Ferebee Road Fire in Hyde County is holding at 1,088 acres in size and 12% containment as of 9 a.m., June 24.

Personnel continue efforts to improve containment lines and are working to complete contingency fuel break lines. High volume water handling operations from New Lake are underway.

Operational resources working the fire include 80 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina State Parks, Hyde County Emergency Management, Hyde County Sheriff’s Department and Carolina Ranch.

There are no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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June 23, 2022

Evening Update: Ferebee Road Fire still 12% contained and nearly 1,100 acres


PONZER - As of 5 p.m., June 23, the Ferebee Road Fire is 1,088 acres and 12% contained.

Personnel continue efforts to improve containment lines. Crews continue working to stage and move water to the fire. High volume water handling operations are expected to begin over the next two days with pump site installations at New Lake and Phelps Lake.

Operational resources working the fire include 58 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

There are no injuries and no structures damaged at this time.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been issued for the Ferebee Road fire. The TFR restricts all civilian aircraft, manned and unmanned, within 5 miles of the fire. The flight restriction remains in place until aviation support is no longer needed.

Additional updates will be shared on our website and social media channels as information becomes available. For the latest information about wildfires across the state, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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June 23, 2022

Ferebee Road Fire on private land in Ponzer of Hyde County at 12% containment


PONZER - As of 9 a.m., June 23, the Ferebee Road Fire is estimated to be 839 acres in size and at 12% containment after pushing beyond firelines on Wednesday, June 22, due to a combination of heat, dryness and wind.

Passing thunderstorms created erratic winds but also produced some beneficial rain for the area, offering temporary relief by slowing the fire down. As of this morning, the fire is producing intense smoke, which is expected to continue.

Firefighting crews will conduct burnout operations along the western side of Gamble Road and south of County Line Road. High volume water handling operations are expected to begin over the next two days. Efforts to improve and maintain containment lines will be ongoing.

Winds are expected to remain light throughout the remainder of the week and weekend but remain an area of concern with no significant rainfall predicted until early next week.

Operational resources working the fire include 51 personnel from the N.C. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The public is reminded to keep drones away from wildfires. While drones provide unique opportunities for aerial video and imagery of wildfire activity, they are unauthorized. Flying a drone near or around a wildfire compromises the safety of pilots and interferes with firefighting efforts.

For information updates, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/sit_report.htm.

 

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June 13, 2022

N.C. Forest Service encourages communities to be ready to respond as hurricane season begins


RALEIGH - The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season has arrived and with it, the need to be prepared for the impacts from potential storms. With many predicting above average hurricane activity this year, the N.C. Forest Service encourages communities preparing for or cleaning up after a storm to implement best management practices that support efficient response and recovery.

“As we all are aware, storms come in many sizes and occur regularly across North Carolina,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Being prepared will help prevent damage to trees and property. Forestland, especially urban tree canopy cover, is a critical asset for our state. The NC Trees and Storms: Readiness, Response and Recovery best management practices for communities support sustainable urban forest management at the local level and help communities prepare for storm response and recovery.”

For communities and municipalities preparing for/or cleaning up after a storm, here are some helpful tips and guidelines summarizing the NC Trees and Storms 3Rs process:

Readiness

  • Build an urban forestry team of municipal staff, tree care professionals and stakeholders to develop and manage a storm mitigation plan.
  • Identify, prune and remove structurally defective trees to enhance public safety and reduce potential storm damage.
  • Develop your storm response plan, administrative processes and secure resource needs.
Response
  • Complete initial damage assessment and planning. Be sure conditions are safe for your workers before you dispatch staff and crews to begin work.
  • Classify the severity of the event triggering mobilization of required resources.
  • Secure and dispatch needed resources based on the event classification.
  • Inspect, prioritize and reduce hazardous tree damage.
  • Demobilize resources as the workload dictates until all hazardous tree damage is addressed and the recovery phase can be initiated.
Recovery
  • Assemble your urban forestry team, evaluate storm response efforts and make necessary adjustments to enhance response efforts in the future.
  • Complete an inventory of storm damaged trees to identify tree pruning, removal and planting needs and budget.
  • Develop a recovery plan that addresses the findings of the inventory, community wishes, timelines and budget.
  • Implement the recovery plan, monitor and adjust as needed.

To access the NC Trees and Storms: Readiness, Response and Recovery BMPs for Municipalities, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/treesandstorms.htm. For more information or assistance, contact your local NCFS county ranger or the NCFS Urban and Community Forestry program. To locate contact information, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

 

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May 25, 2022

N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services seal, N.C. Forest Service shield, USDA Forest Service shield

Forest Service agencies reminding residents across the state to keep drones away from wildfires


RALEIGH - As spring fire season enters its third month, the USDA Forest Service and N.C. Forest Service are reminding the public to keep drones away from wildfires. Flying drones or unmanned aircraft systems near wildfire activity is not only extremely dangerous, but illegal.

“Flying a drone near or around a wildfire compromises the safety of forest service pilots and ground crews and interferes with firefighting efforts,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “It’s important to remember that if you fly, we can’t.”

Firefighters use a variety of tactics when containing and suppressing wildfires from the air and on the ground. Unauthorized drone flights hinder all of them. Helicopters, planes and other aircraft that deliver hundreds of gallons of water and fire retardant to a burn site are already flying low, with minimal visibility and under smoky and windy conditions. When drones and firefighting aircraft share the same airspace, the risk of a midair collision increases.

To avoid the threat of midair collisions, all aerial wildfire operations are suspended when a drone is present, thus delaying wildfire suppression response and allowing the wildfire to grow larger. “The longer an uncontained wildfire burns, the greater the risk for loss of life to residents and firefighters, property and valuable resources and increased cost,” said State Forester David Lane. “There’s also the possibility of a drone malfunctioning while in flight, only to fall onto responders and members of the public below, potentially injuring them.”

According to the USDA Forest Service, 172 drone incursions took place between the years of 2015 and 2020. Since there is no centralized system to report these situations, the actual number is believed to be much higher.

The Federal Aviation Administration implements a temporary flight restriction around wildfires to protect aircraft engaged in firefighting operations. Individuals in violation of this law will be subject to civil penalties, including fines up to $25,000 and criminal prosecution.

It’s important to know the rules and remember if you fly, we can’t. To learn more about the unauthorized use of drones, go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/fire/uas/if-you-fly.

 

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May 18, 2022

Driving Creek Fire in Green Swamp Preserve of Brunswick County 100% contained


GREEN SWAMP PRESERVE - As of 8:30 a.m., the Driving Creek Fire is 598 acres in size and is 100% contained. The Green Swamp Preserve received considerable rain with the passing storms on Monday evening aiding in full containment of the fire.

“Fire personnel were able to heavily reinforce containment lines around the fire over the weekend,” said Deputy Incident Commander John Cook. “The rain event last night helped tremendously with putting this fire out for good.”

On Tuesday, May 17, the wildfire incident transitioned to local forest service response units and was placed under monitor status. The trails at The Nature Conservancy’s Green Swamp Preserve remain closed.

“Our fire personnel and staff from The Nature Conservancy have worked the firelines daily since the fire began and we’re glad the collaborative effort between the Conservancy and the Forest Service knocked this fire out quickly,” added Cook.

The Driving Creek Fire started Sunday, May 8 in difficult terrain six miles north of Supply along Highway 211. Initial investigation indicates the fire was caused by a lightning strike associated with weekend storms. Full investigation of the cause of the fire is ongoing.

The Conservancy will update its Facebook (facebook.com/TNCNC) and Instagram (tnc_nc) accounts when the trails reopen.

 

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May 12, 2022

Driving Creek Fire in Green Swamp Preserve of Brunswick County at 75% containment


GREEN SWAMP PRESERVE - As of 11:07 a.m., the Driving Creek Fire is 597.83 acres in size and is 75% contained. Personnel from the N.C. Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy continue to work on the fire. The Highway 211 corridor between Bolton and Supply which was initially closed for the safety of motorists and fire personnel has reopened to all traffic as of Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters are working to improve and maintain existing control lines around the fire and closely monitor the fire area imprint. With light rain impacting the area, firefighters will repair equipment, resupply and rest over the next 48 hours. Firefighters will return Sunday to assess the impacts of rainfall using drones and infrared heat-sensing technology. This practice will also enable firefighters to determine where hotspots remain under the soil’s surface which can cause the fire to reignite. Complete containment of the wildfire remains a challenge due to the difficult terrain, organic soils and heavy fuels.

Anticipated higher relative humidity values along with precipitation events will help hold the fire perimeter over the next two days. Sunday’s predicted weather conditions offer potential for increased fire behavior and movement. Smoke may continue to cause air quality issues around the area of the fire. Driving conditions along Highway 211 may be impacted through the weekend. Motorists are encouraged to allow extra time for their travels through the area with the continued potential for smoke lingering near the Green Swamp Preserve.

The N.C. Forest Service continues to use aerial operations to assist with suppression and monitoring efforts. The public is reminded to keep drones away from wildfires. While drones provide unique opportunities for aerial video and imagery of wildfire activity, they are unauthorized. Flying a drone near or around a wildfire compromises the safety of N.C. Forest Service pilots and interferes with firefighting efforts. Individuals in violation of this law will be subject to civil penalties, fines and criminal prosecution. It’s important to remember that if you fly, we can’t.

The Driving Creek Fire started Sunday, May 8 in difficult terrain six miles north of Supply along Highway 211. Initial investigation indicates the fire was caused by a lightning strike associated with weekend storms. A full investigation will be conducted at a later time.

Brunswick County residents can track updates by following local media. To learn more about the unauthorized use of drones, go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/fire/uas/if-you-fly.

 

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May 10, 2022

Laurel wilt found in Scotland County for the first time


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 the right of way along U.S. Highway 74 in Scotland County.

Sassafras, redbay, swampbay, pondberry, pondspice and spicebush are in the laurel family and can be affected by this disease. Redbay trees that are infected with laurel wilt cling to their leaves even after the tree has died allowing for easier detection during the winter months.

“We generally survey throughout the winter because laurel wilt is easy to see when most other trees have shed their leaves,” said Jim Moeller, forest health forester. “Even though we weren’t dedicating our day to surveying for laurel wilt, anytime we are traveling to various locations throughout the state, we are always staying alert for possible movement of insects and diseases that we track.”

Trees are infected with the fungus that causes laurel wilt disease by the invasive redbay ambrosia beetle. Native to southeastern Asia, the beetle was first detected in the U.S. in 2004 near Savannah, Ga. It has since spread to 11 states, from Texas to Virginia. The pest is believed to travel about 20 miles per year naturally but spreads more quickly when transported in firewood.

Redbay ambrosia beetles do not feed on the trees themselves but rather on the laurel wilt fungus. Female beetles bore into trees, carrying the fungus with them. Once inside the tree, she makes tunnels and lays eggs. Fungal spores begin to grow in these tunnels, blocking the movement of water and causing the tree to wilt and eventually die. Trees typically die within weeks or months of infection.

Symptoms of laurel wilt disease include drooping reddish-purple foliage. Evidence of a redbay ambrosia beetle attack may be found in the main stem; often threads 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 is not a reliable method of treating laurel wilt and insecticides have been ineffective at stopping beetle attacks. Fungicides may be used to prevent infection by the fungus but they are costly and require reapplication. The best defense continues to be slowing the spread by using local or treated firewood and by notifying the local NCFS county ranger if laurel wilt is suspected.

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 https://www.ncforestservice.gov/burnpermit.

The detection of laurel wilt in Scotland County was confirmed by pathologists at N.C. State University’s Plant Disease and Insect Clinic. To learn more about laurel wilt, visit http://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 https://www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

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

 

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May 10, 2022

Driving Creek Fire in Green Swamp Preserve of Brunswick County at 20% containment


GREEN SWAMP PRESERVE - As of 11:26 a.m., the Driving Creek Fire is 568 acres in size and is 20% contained. Personnel from the N.C. Forest Service and the Nature Conservancy are responding to the fire. To ensure the safety of responders and travelers, Highway 211 has been closed from the Highway 214 intersection in Bolton to the Highway 17 intersection in Supply until further notice. Citizens and travelers will need to find alternate routes. The N.C. Department of Transportation has placed detour signs in the area to help direct travelers. At this time, no structures or homes are being threatened.

Containment of the wildfire is a challenge due to the difficult terrain, organic soils, heavy fuels and windy conditions. Citizens can expect significant smoke impacts. The N.C. Forest Service is using aerial operations to assist with firefighting and suppression efforts. The public is reminded to keep drones away from wildfires. While drones provide unique opportunities for aerial video and imagery of wildfire activity, they are unauthorized. Flying a drone near or around a wildfire compromises the safety of N.C. Forest Service pilots and interferes with firefighting efforts. Individuals in violation of this law will be subject to civil penalties, fines and criminal prosecution. It’s important to remember that if you fly, we can’t.

N.C. Forest Service resources responding to the incident include a strike team, tractor plow units, four fixed-wing aircraft, a helicopter and ground crews.

The Driving Creek Fire started Sunday, May 8 in difficult terrain six miles north of Supply along Highway 211. Initial investigation indicates the fire was caused by a lightning strike associated with weekend storms. A full investigation will be conducted at a later time.

Brunswick County citizens can track updates by following local media. To learn more about the unauthorized use of drones, go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/fire/uas/if-you-fly.

 

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May 3, 2022

Emerald ash borer found in Stanly County for the first time


RALEIGH - The emerald ash borer was recently found in Stanly County for the first time, bringing the number of counties in the state where the tree-killing insect has been detected to 62.

EAB is a metallic green beetle that bores into ash trees and feeds on tissues beneath the bark, ultimately killing the tree. The discovery was found on private property in Albemarle.

“A forestry consultant noticed a 'D' shaped exit hole in the ash tree canopies while clearing an area,” said Jim Moeller, forest health specialist with the N.C. Forest Service. “Once the trees were cut down, N.C. Forest Service personnel helped peel back the bark and found the insect.”

Adult borers lay eggs on the bark of ash trees. When the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the bark and feed on the transportation tissues of the tree. This disrupts the movement of nutrients and water within the tree, causing the tree’s slow death typically in three to five years.

The signs and symptoms of EAB infestation include thinning and dying crowns; increased woodpecker activity that causes the tree to look like it is losing patches of bark; small, 1/8-inch D-shaped exit holes where adult beetles emerged from the trees; galleries on the inside of the bark; cream-colored larvae; and, epicormic sprouting or sprouting from the main stem of the tree. Host plants include all native ash trees and native white fringetree. The Chinese white fringetree, often planted for ornamental purposes, is believed to be resistant.

EAB has been found in the following North Carolina counties: Alamance, Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Durham, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Graham, Granville, Guilford, Halifax, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Johnston, Lenoir, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Nash, Orange, Person, Pitt, Polk, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Vance, Wake, Warren, Watauga, Wayne, Wilkes, Wilson, Yadkin and Yancey.

The entire state of North Carolina is under a quarantine for EAB, which prohibits the movement of ash plant parts, the insect itself, ash nursery stock and all hardwood firewood into nonquarantined areas such as central Tennessee, most of Alabama and all of Florida.

Adult EAB beetles are about a half-inch long and 1/8-inch wide. Under their wing covers, their bodies are a metallic purple-red color. In North Carolina, the adult EAB is typically active from late spring to early summer, likely April through June. EAB larvae may be found under the bark of the tree most of the year.

For more information about EAB, visit ncforestservice.gov and follow the links under the “Forest Health” section. To view current federal EAB quarantines, visit www.emeraldashborer.info.

The spread of invasive insects in the state is often due to human activity through the transportation of infested wood products such as firewood. It is strongly recommended that people burn local or treated firewood to reduce the spread of invasive pests.

The N.C. Forest Health Branch monitors the spread of invasive pests. People who suspect there is an infested tree in an area near them should contact their county ranger. Contact information can be found online at ncforestservice.gov, under the links in the “contacts” heading.

A map showing emerald ash borer detections throughout North Carolina is available at https://www.ncforestservice.gov/forest_health/pdf/Map_EAB_NCTracking.pdf.

 

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May 3, 2022

Emerald ash borer found in Pitt County for the first time


RALEIGH - The emerald ash borer was recently found in Pitt County for the first time, bringing the number of counties in the state where the tree-killing insect has been detected to 61.

EAB is a metallic green beetle that bores into ash trees and feeds on tissues beneath the bark, ultimately killing the tree. The borer was found in River Park North in Greenville.

“We saw some suspect trees, heavy woodpecker activity and crown dieback in January while looking for potential sites to hang EAB traps,” said Jim Moeller, forest health specialist with the N.C. Forest Service. “When we returned in April to deploy those traps, we found the insect before we even hung up the traps.”

Adult borers lay eggs on the bark of ash trees. When the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the bark and feed on the transportation tissues of the tree. This disrupts the movement of nutrients and water within the tree, causing the tree’s slow death typically in three to five years.

The signs and symptoms of EAB infestation include thinning and dying crowns; increased woodpecker activity that causes the tree to look like it is losing patches of bark; small, 1/8-inch D-shaped exit holes where adult beetles emerged from the trees; galleries on the inside of the bark; cream-colored larvae; and, epicormic sprouting or sprouting from the main stem of the tree. Host plants include all native ash trees and native white fringetree. The Chinese white fringetree, often planted for ornamental purposes, is believed to be resistant.

EAB has been found in the following North Carolina counties: Alamance, Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Durham, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Graham, Granville, Guilford, Halifax, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Johnston, Lenoir, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Nash, Orange, Person, Pitt, Polk, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Vance, Wake, Warren, Watauga, Wayne, Wilkes, Wilson, Yadkin and Yancey.

The entire state of North Carolina is under a quarantine for EAB, which prohibits the movement of ash plant parts, the insect itself, ash nursery stock and all hardwood firewood into nonquarantined areas such as central Tennessee, most of Alabama and all of Florida.

Adult EAB beetles are about a half-inch long and 1/8-inch wide. Under their wing covers, their bodies are a metallic purple-red color. In North Carolina, the adult EAB is typically active from late spring to early summer, likely April through June. EAB larvae may be found under the bark of the tree most of the year.

For more information about EAB, visit ncforestservice.gov and follow the links under the “Forest Health” section. To view current federal EAB quarantines, visit www.emeraldashborer.info.

The spread of invasive insects in the state is often due to human activity through the transportation of infested wood products such as firewood. It is strongly recommended that people burn local or treated firewood to reduce the spread of invasive pests.

The N.C. Forest Health Branch monitors the spread of invasive pests. People who suspect there is an infested tree in an area near them should contact their county ranger. Contact information can be found online at ncforestservice.gov, under the links in the “contacts” heading.

A map showing emerald ash borer detections throughout North Carolina is available at https://www.ncforestservice.gov/forest_health/pdf/Map_EAB_NCTracking.pdf.

 

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May 3, 2022

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is ideal time to resist wildfire by reducing risk


RALEIGH - Careless backyard burning is the leading cause of wildfires in North Carolina. More than 3,700 wildfires have burned across North Carolina … this year! Taking action around your home and property is important for you and your community. Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is a fantastic time to make that investment. Take the first step by participating on May 7. Projects to reduce wildfire risk can be completed by people of all ages with a variety of time commitments. A lot can be accomplished in a single day!

Some project ideas include:

  • Clear debris from your roof and gutters.
  • Remove leaves and other flammable debris at least 5 feet away from your home’s perimeter. This includes areas on and under decks, porches, sheds and play structures.
  • Move firewood, debris piles and fuel tanks at least 30 feet away from your home.
  • Screen or box in areas below patios and decks with wire screening no larger than 1/8-inch mesh to help keep embers out during a wildfire.
  • Thin understory shrubs and prune larger trees within a 30-foot perimeter around your home. On mature trees, use hand pruners and loppers to remove low-hanging tree branches up to a height of 4 feet from the ground (specific height depends on the type and size of tree). Collect downed tree limbs and broken branches and take them to a disposal site.

An added incentive to get involved with Wildfire Community Preparedness Day every year is the project funding State Farm awards to support activities aimed at reducing potential loss of life, property and natural resources to wildfire. This year, 100 communities received $500 in project funding for projects to begin or be completed on May 7. The Pine Mountain POA near Morganton in Western North Carolina was awarded project funding this year. Pine Mountain community members focused their collective efforts close to home, concentrating wildfire risk reduction activities in areas adjacent to their residences. On April 16, community volunteers cleared debris and leaves, moved wood and trimmed bushes around three houses occupied by senior citizens who live alone and were unable to do the work themselves. This effort totaled 40 man hours and 20 cubic yards of debris, which will go toward Pine Mountain’s Firewise community goal. Following this day of good work in the Pine Mountain community, volunteers and guests enjoyed a social around a permitted bonfire. On Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, Pine Mountain will enjoy a community picnic and another permitted bonfire.

Pine Mountain POA reduces wildfire risk and increases community action for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

YOU are the best defense against wildfire. To learn more about what you can do to reduce wildfire risk in your community, visit www.resistwilfirenc.org. To learn more about Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, visit https://www.nfpa.org/Events/Events/National-Wildfire-Community-Preparedness-Day.

 

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April 29, 2022

North Carolina Tree City USA communities working hard to conserve city trees, enhance urban forests


RALEIGH - In 2021, 80 North Carolina communities earned Tree City USA designations, and 16 college and university campuses earned Tree Campus Higher Education designations. Four utilities earned Tree Line USA designations for 2022, based on activities completed in 2021.

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.

“Achieving any of these acknowledgments reaffirms a community’s commitment to not only healthy urban tree canopy but also to tree conservation, clean air and water, reduced stormwater runoff and increased property values,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “These actions will further enhance the quality of life in these communities and the state, now and for generations to come.”

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 80 Tree Cities, seven communities earned Tree City USA Growth Awards. These efforts and accomplishments move us closer to our goal of conserving and enhancing the benefits and sustainable management of urban forests highlighted in the recently updated North Carolina Forest Action Plan,” said Andrew Pleninger, Urban and Community Forestry Program Head 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 and map of communities, campuses and utilities recognized in 2021/2022, visit https://www.ncforestservice.gov/Urban/tcusa_NC_Participants.asp.

 

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April 4, 2022

Registration reopening for Bradford Pear ‘Bounty’ Program

Limited to Guilford County residents only, registration required

RALEIGH - Registration for the Bradford Pear ‘Bounty’ Program will reopen to Guilford County residents Tuesday, April 5, after a temporary pause due to strong interest in the program.

The pilot program, which is a partnership between the N.C. Forest Service, N.C. State Cooperative Extension, N.C. Urban Forest Council and the N.C. Wildlife Federation, has added 250 trees to its original inventory.

Through this program, Guilford County residents can remove a Bradford pear tree and exchange it for a native tree during the program’s first exchange event Saturday, April 23, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Trees can be exchanged one-for-one, up to five trees. The exchange location will be the UNC-Greensboro Park & Ride lot on the corner of W. Gate City Boulevard and Chapman Street at 1720 W. Gate City Blvd, Greensboro. Trees should be picked up between 9 a.m. and noon. No trees will be shipped or otherwise saved for later pickup.

Tree species available during the event include redbud, flowering dogwood, paw paw, serviceberry, river birch, blackgum, box elder, swamp white oak, tulip poplar, silver maple and American beech. Tree species cannot be reserved and will be available for selection on a first- come, first-served basis.

Registration is required to attend the Greensboro exchange event and is limited to Guilford County residents only. Event registration will remain open until all trees have been reserved. Previous registrations received before the program’s temporary pause will be honored. For more information about the program including registration requirements, visit treebountync.com.

Anyone outside the Guilford County service area is encouraged to check the program website regularly for announcements about future events and locations.

 

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March 22, 2022

Gator Fire in Low Gap community of Surry County at 90% containment


LOW GAP - As of 9 a.m., the Gator Fire is 201 acres in size due to more accurate mapping and is 90% contained. Crews will continue strengthening containment lines, mopping up and taking down snags that could threaten containment lines due to forecast storm activity and gusty winds.

The incident and personnel resources are being downsized.

The Gator Fire started Saturday, March 19 in rugged terrain near the community of Low Gap. The cause of the fire was determined to be careless debris burning and remains under investigation. Careless debris burning continues to be the leading cause of wildfires in North Carolina. When burning outdoors, burn responsibly. For prevention tips, visit www.ncforestservice.gov.

 

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March 22, 2022

Trinity woman named Employee of the Year


RALEIGH - SueAnn Safriet of Trinity has been named Employee of the Year for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Safriet is a Forest Management secretary with the Lexington District of the N.C. Forest Service, serving Davie, Davidson, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, Rowan, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties.

“SueAnn excels in all aspects of job performance,” said supervisor and district forester Mark Bost. “This job has a lot of moving parts and she handles it all with grace and efficiency. I frequently witness SueAnn arrive early and stay late to accomplish tasks. She is one of the most dedicated employees I’ve ever worked with in my 25-year career.”

Safriet’s job demands in-depth knowledge of all N.C. Forest Service programs and organizational structure. One of her larger responsibilities involves processing forest management plans prepared for private landowners, including handling payments and invoicing plans. Among her many other job responsibilities, Safriet prepares all training course certificates, updates directories and maintains multiple finance accounts. On many occasions, Safriet has stepped in to fill additional roles and responsibilities that don’t typically fall on her shoulders.

Safriet’s impact is felt far beyond her administrative responsibilities. She exemplifies exceptional customer service no matter the circumstance and is always identifying opportunities in which she can help others. “Whether it’s a co-worker needing assistance or a member of the public requesting payment or account information, she is always willing to go out of her way,” Bost continued. “She has an uncommon level of dedication and work ethic. There is no other employee in the department that I know that is committed to people more than SueAnn.”

Safriet has been with the N.C. Forest Service since July 2017 and was also recognized as employee of the month in July 2021. Before joining the N.C. Forest Service, she was employed with the Randolph County School System.

 

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March 21, 2022

Gator Fire in Low Gap community of Surry County at 90% containment


LOW GAP - As of 10:32 a.m., the Gator Fire is 195 acres in size and is 90% contained. Crews are strengthening containment lines and mopping up the fire. Primary objectives during this operational period are to continue strengthening containment lines, mopping up and taking down snags that could threaten containment lines due to forecast storm activity and gusty winds.

NCFS firefighting personnel, multiple area volunteer fire departments and local emergency management personnel are supporting suppression efforts.

The Gator Fire started Saturday, March 19 in rugged terrain near the community of Low Gap. The cause is undetermined and under investigation.

 

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March 17, 2022

Turnbull Creek Educational State Forest giving away tree seedlings in celebration of Arbor Day


ELIZABETHTOWN - In celebration of North Carolina’s Arbor Day on March 18, Turnbull Creek Educational State Forest (ESF) will be giving away tree seedlings. Bareroot loblolly and bareroot baldcypress seedlings will be available for pick-up on a first come, first served basis beginning Friday, March 18 through Sunday, March 20.

“Arbor Day is special in many ways,” said forest supervisor Carrie McCullen. “Whether celebrating the legacy of J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day and his contributions toward conservation, or celebrating the mighty tree for which we owe a great deal of gratitude for its offerings.” Shade, fruit, beauty, homes for wildlife, conservation of water, soil stabilization, oxygen and carbon dioxide regulation are just a few of the many benefits we enjoy from trees.

Join Turnbull Creek ESF staff in celebrating Arbor Day by planting a tree to continue the preservation of our state’s beautiful forestland for future generations.

Tree seedlings can be picked up at 4803 Sweet Home Church Road in Elizabethtown. Pick-up times are as follows:

  • Friday, March 18 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 19 from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 20 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

For more information, please contact Turnbull Creek ESF at 910-588-4161. Visitors can also find more information about the forest at https://www.ncesf.org/turnbull.html

 

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March 15, 2022

N.C. Forest Service celebrates Arbor Day and the importance of planting trees


RALEIGH - This year marks the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day, and its importance is just as relevant now as when it was first recognized.

Established in 1872 as a tree-planting holiday, Arbor Day was first observed in Nebraska and was celebrated by the planting of more than a million trees. Arbor Day quickly grew into a national holiday before transitioning to a day recognized by many countries across the globe. The national observance of Arbor Day takes place on the last Friday in April each year. North Carolina observes Arbor Day on the first Friday following March 15. This year, North Carolina Arbor Day will take place March 18.

“Trees clean our air, filter our water and are essential to wildlife habitats, which are benefits to all of us,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Planting trees is an easy way we can all contribute to the sustainable management and preservation of North Carolina’s forests for future generations.”

One goal identified in the recently updated North Carolina Forest Action Plan is to conserve and enhance the sustainable management of urban forests. Planting trees and responsible urban forest management at the local level including community involvement and participation in urban forestry recognition programs are critical to sustaining healthy forest resources in North Carolina.

“North Carolina is fortunate to have a variety of state forestry programs that protect forest resources by supporting landowners and communities with tree-planting, site preparation and forest improvement,” said David Lane, state forester. Among these are cost share programs such as the Forest Development Program and the Urban and Community Forestry grant program, both managed by the N.C. Forest Service. The NCFS Urban and Community Forestry program also oversees the application and award process for Tree City USA, Tree Campus Higher Education and Tree Line USA.

Learn more about N.C. Forest Service urban and community forestry programs and services at www.ncforestservice.gov/Urban/Urban_Forestry.htm. Learn more about the updated North Carolina Forest Action Plan at www.ncforestactionplan.com/.

 

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March 9, 2022

March 1 marks beginning of peak season at Turnbull Creek Educational State Forest


ELIZABETHTOWN- Turnbull Creek Educational State Forest (ESF) located in Elizabethtown is shaking off those winter blues by kickstarting the forest’s spring and summer hours of operation. Beginning March 1, the forest will be open to the public using a modified schedule to include weekend visitation hours.

Turnbull Creek ESF will be open weekly from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The forest is closed on Monday.

This year, Turnbull Creek ESF is offering small group, ranger-led classes every Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to noon. Each Saturday will feature a unique class based on the following themes:

  • First Saturday -- Guided Hike with a Ranger
  • Second Saturday -- Naval Stores: Colonial North Carolina's First Industry
  • Third Saturday -- Forest Measurements 101: Tools of the Trade
  • Fourth Saturday -- Fire Control 101
  • Fifth Saturday -- The Art and History of Papermaking

Classes are limited to 15 participants. Reserve your spot early. Class reservations can be made by calling the Turnbull Creek ESF office.

In addition to these Saturday classes, forest staff at Turnbull Creek ESF offer a variety of classes made available to groups by reservation. Turnbull Creek ESF also offers a wide array of activities for all ages. Taking in our exhibits, hiking the trails, birding and enjoying a picnic among the trees are just a few of the activities available at Turnbull Creek ESF. Our trails offer several levels of difficulty and range from a quarter mile to more than four miles in length. If you are looking for a special space to host a meeting or outdoor event, Turnbull Creek ESF offers an open-air picnic shelter available by reservation and free of charge.

For more information or to make a reservation, please contact Turnbull Creek ESF rangers at 910-588-4161. Visitors can also find more information about the forest at https://www.ncesf.org/turnbull.html.

 

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March 8, 2022

Clemmons Educational State Forest shifting to summer schedule beginning March 1


CLAYTON- Clemmons Educational State Forest (ESF) located in Clayton is transitioning from its winter schedule to those coveted summer hours. With this transition, Clemmons ESF resumed weekend operations and visitation hours, including the opening of all restrooms. Clemmons ESF will be open weekly and the summer hours will remain in effect through Oct. 31. Forest hours of operation are:

  • Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • The forest is closed on Monday.

Clemmons ESF continues to field requests relative to educational programming for 2022. For more information on programs and services offered by the forest, please contact Clemmons ESF rangers at 919-553-5651. Visitors can also find more information about the forest at https://www.ncesf.org/clemmons.html.

 

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March 3, 2022

N.C. Forest Service urges residents across the state to exercise caution when burning debris


RALEIGH - With spring fire season upon us, the N.C. Forest Service is asking residents to prioritize safety and practice caution when burning debris. Escaped fires from burning debris continue to be the leading cause of wildfires in North Carolina. Peak months for the spring fire season run from March through May and fires left unattended can get out of hand quickly and become wildfires.

“Be sure to consider any and all factors when choosing to burn natural vegetation in your yard, especially on dry, windy days,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Contact your local county ranger for tips on the safest way to burn and make sure you have a valid burn permit. You are the best defense against wildfires.”

Spring weather in North Carolina draws people outdoors to work in their yards and dispose of leaves and other yard debris by way of burning. For those who choose to burn, the N.C. Forest Service is offering the following tips:

  • 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 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 N.C. Forest Service office or authorized permitting agent, or online at https://www.ncforestservice.gov/burn_permits/burn_permits_main.htm.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. Don’t burn on dry, windy days.
  • Local fire officials can recommend a safe way to burn debris. Don’t pile vegetation on the ground. Instead, place it in a cleared area and contain it in a screened receptacle away from overhead branches and wires.
  • Household trash must be hauled away to a trash or recycling station. It is illegal to burn anything other than natural vegetation.
  • 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.
  • These same tips apply to campfires and grills as well. Douse burning charcoal briquettes or campfires thoroughly with water. Drown all embers, not just the red ones. When soaked, stir the coals and soak them again. Make sure everything is wet and that embers are cold to the touch. If you do not have water, mix enough dirt or sand with the embers to extinguish the fire, being careful not to bury the fire. Never dump hot ashes or coals into a wooded area.
  • When burning agricultural 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. Prior to any burning in a wooded area, contact your NCFS county ranger for technical advice on burning.

The public is reminded to keep drones away from wildfires. While drones provide unique opportunities for aerial video and imagery of wildfire activity, they are unauthorized. Flying a drone near or around a wildfire compromises the safety of N.C. Forest Service pilots and interferes with firefighting efforts. Individuals in violation of this law will be subject to civil penalties, fines and criminal prosecution. It’s important to remember that if you fly, we can’t.

To learn more about fire safety and preventing wildfires and loss of property, go to www.ncforestservice.gov. To learn more about the unauthorized use of drones, go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/fire/uas/if-you-fly.

 

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March 2, 2022

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 North Carolina Forest Service (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. 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 March 1, 2022 and will close on the last Friday in May, May 27, 2022.
  • “Plant-Only Fund” enrollment period will begin Sept. 1, 2022 and will close on the last Friday in October, Oct. 28, 2022.

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 $250,000 from the “Mountain Fund”; $1.1 million from the “Base Fund”; and $550,000 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 under budget.

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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February 23, 2022

Laurel wilt identified in Craven and Carteret counties for first time


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 right of ways along U.S. Highway 70 in Craven County and N.C. Highway 58 in Carteret County.

Sassafras, redbay, swampbay, pondberry, pondspice and spicebush are in the laurel family and can be affected by this disease.

"Redbay trees that are infected with laurel wilt cling to their leaves even after the tree has died. It makes them easier to spot during the winter months when most other trees have lost their leaves," said Larry Long, forest health monitoring coordinator. "We made these detections during a routine laurel wilt survey and it marks the first time the disease has been found in either county."

Trees are infected with the fungus that causes laurel wilt disease by the invasive redbay ambrosia beetle. Native to southeastern Asia, the beetle was first detected in the U.S. near Savannah, Ga. in 2004. It has since spread to 11 states, from Texas to Virginia. The pest is believed to travel about 20 miles per year naturally but spreads more quickly when transported in firewood, he said.

Redbay ambrosia beetles do not feed on the trees themselves but rather on the laurel wilt fungus. Female beetles bore into trees, carrying the fungus with them. Once inside the tree, she makes tunnels and lays eggs. Fungal spores begin to grow in these tunnels, blocking the movement of water and causing the tree to wilt and eventually die. Trees typically die within weeks or months of infection.

Symptoms of laurel wilt disease include drooping reddish-purple foliage. Evidence of a redbay ambrosia beetle attack may be found in the main stem; often threads 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 is not a reliable way to treat laurel wilt and insecticides have been ineffective at stopping beetle attacks. Fungicides may be used to prevent infection by the fungus but they are costly and require reapplication. "Our best weapon is to slow the spread. 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," Long 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 https://www.ncforestservice.gov/burnpermit.

The detections of laurel wilt in Craven and Carteret counties were confirmed by pathologists at N.C. State University's Plant Disease and Insect Clinic. To learn more about laurel wilt, visit http://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 https://www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

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

 

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February 14, 2022

N.C. Forest Service offering cost share funding for private landowners


RALEIGH - RALEIGH – Private landowners interested in applying for cost share reimbursement through the N.C. Prescribed Burning Matching Program, should contact their NCFS county ranger’s office. Funding for this program is time-limited with $1 million available for state fiscal year 2021-22, and $1 million available for 2022-23. All burning projects will need to be completed by April 30, 2023 to ensure program closeout deadlines are met by June 30, 2023.

Funding for prescribed burning practices is available for privately owned forestlands, with private individuals, groups, associations and corporations eligible to apply. Forest land jointly owned by more than one individual, group, associations or corporations is considered to be one eligible landowner and entitled to receive cost share funding.

The project must comply with the requirements of Article 80 in Chapter 106 of the General Statutes, and funding provided by the program must be matched by landowner funds or another non-state source.

    Eligible prescribed burning practices include:
  • Silvicultural Burning
  • Hazard Reduction Burning
  • Wildlife Habitat Burning

Applications for cost share funding will be accepted on a “first come, first served” basis, using the date and time of when accurately completed applications are received at our NCFS headquarters in Raleigh, NC. Applicants will be notified upon certification and approval for allotment of funding for the project.

For more information about funding, eligibility, program requirements and the application process, visithttps://www.ncforestservice.gov/Managing_your_forest/burncostshare.htm.To find contact information for your local NCFS county ranger’s office, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts. .

 

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February 9, 2022

N.C. Forest Service offer programs and services to help Avery County landowners manage woodlands


RALEIGH - Over half of North Carolina’s private forestland is owned by individuals and families, collectively making them the largest group of forest owners in our state. The N.C. Forest Service offers many programs and services to help owners manage their woodlands and Avery County Ranger D.J. Whitson is available to help. The amount of privately owned timberland in Avery County is about 98,000 acres. Individual landowners play an important part in keeping the forests of Avery County healthy and growing.

“Wildlife management, forest protection and conservation are the driving interests for most landowners,” Whitson said. “N.C. Forest Service programs are designed to help owners protect their woods and make it easier to pass these resources along to future generations. I enjoy helping landowners manage for the future.”

NCFS services include water quality inspections, storm preparation and recovery guidance, and woodland management plans.

“A woodland management plan casts a wide net and is designed specifically for each distinct property, while catering to the objectives of the landowner,” Whitson said. “The majority of our landowners manage for traditional upland hardwoods such as yellow poplar and oaks.”

There are several benefits linked to a woodland plan such as property tax savings, cost-share programs, a better understanding of how to protect the woodlands and staying connected with the right forestry professionals.

In addition to woodland management plans, the N.C. Forest Service can provide management plans that address specific forestry practices such as harvesting and prescribed burning. Prescribed fire is an important, low-cost forest management tool used to benefit forestland and wildlife.

Prescribed burning controls the spread of some tree diseases, prepares seedbed for natural regeneration of native trees and increases sunlight reaching the ground, promoting fresh growth of low-growing shrubs, grasses and plants for increased wildlife food and habitat.

For more information about woodland plans, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/Managing_your_forest/why_do_i_need_a_plan.htm. To contact the N.C. Forest Service Avery County office, call 828-766-8043 or email Avery.ncfs@ncagr.gov.

 

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February 8, 2022

North Carolina’s Forest Action Plan ready for implementation


RALEIGH - North Carolina's updated forest action plan has been approved by the USDA Forest Service and is now ready to be implemented by forestry stakeholders across the state. The plan is a thorough review of the state's forestland, focusing on changes and trends that have occurred since 2010. The plan not only evaluates past and current forest conditions, but also addresses factors that may impact forest health and sustainability moving forward.

“Input from our forestry partners, along with the efforts of multistakeholder working groups and our forest service staff, has paved the way for this plan,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “With the continued work of our N.C. Forest Service and forestry partners across the state, this plan will serve as a roadmap for efforts on the ground to protect, conserve and enhance our forest resources and the many benefits we enjoy from them.” Updating North Carolina's Forest Action Plan was a collective effort, involving feedback from nearly 70 organizations on the conditions, needs and opportunities of North Carolina's forests.

Many of the recommended strategies identified in North Carolina's initial forest action plan, which was released in 2010 as a result of the 2008 Farm Bill, have been successfully put into action. Among those accomplishments have been reforestation projects, prescribed burns and the mitigation of forest fuels to reduce wildfire risk. Longleaf restoration and the conservation of priority species and habitats have made significant gains as well. “One trend worth noting has been the collaboration between new partners, often resulting in opportunities for private forest landowners and for land conservation that may have otherwise been unavailable,” said Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Scott Bissette. “The intent is for all forest stakeholders in North Carolina to use this plan as a guide for including applicable strategies into their organization's efforts so we can collectively roll out this plan, keeping our woodlands healthy, resilient and productive.”

To learn more about North Carolina's updated forest action plan, the national priorities and goals behind it and the plan's associated Geospatial Viewer, visit https://www.ncforestactionplan.com/.

 

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January 25, 2022

N.C. Forest Service County Ranger Robert Montague receives the Governor's Award for Excellence in Customer Service


RALEIGH - North Carolina Forest Service Granville-Vance Area Ranger Robert Montague is a recent recipient of the Governor's Award for Excellence in Customer Service - one of the state's highest honors. The service aspect of his job is exactly what drives Montague.

"The service part is what is important to me," Montague said. "I enjoy what I do every day, I enjoy coming to work, I enjoy the challenge of who's going to call in today, who's going to come to our office today that needs our help, and being able to fill the need that they have."

Montague's duties as an area ranger consist of protecting state forests by controlling and investigating wildfires, providing forest management services that help landowners manage their woodlands, and offering educational programs on wildfire prevention and why trees and forests are important throughout the community. He also supervises a team of four. But perhaps his biggest impact is not what his job description entails, but what he means to the community he serves and the significant and lasting impression that he's made.

"Rob is a community asset, not just a local forest ranger," said David Cottrell, Chief of Oxford Fire Department. "If he hears something on the radio that he feels he should be involved in - a tree is down, or someone's been injured by a timber or cutting accident - he'll call to see if he's needed on the scene."

There were 189 emergency response situations involving forest fires in Montague's area alone during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, many of which ignited outside of traditional working hours. Montague personally responded to over half. Wildfires are only one of the many different types of calls county rangers may receive.

"When that need is there, especially in terms of emergency response, those aren't scheduled. So, if we can do something to help the people, the cooperators, that's what we're here to do," Montague said.

"He is all about serving his community. A lot of times landowners will call him with questions and he listens to them. He not only offers up the services that the North Carolina Forest Service can provide, but also what he can do to help them," said supervisor and District Forester Jennifer Roach. "He offers empathy to them and they feel like they're talking to more of a friend instead of just a government agency." For his tireless commitment to the community he serves, Montague deservingly was a recipient of the Governor's Award for Excellence in Customer Service. He continues to embody and symbolize what it truly means to be a public servant each day that he puts on the NCFS badge.

Montague has been an NCFS employee for 18 years, all of which has been in service to Granville County with the addition of Vance County two years ago. To contact the NCFS Granville-Vance County Office about programs and services available for landowners, call 919-693-3154 or email granville.ncfs@ncagr.gov.

Montague's story can be viewed on Youtube by following this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyNRLeXhpAg

 

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January 14, 2022

Threat of winter storm brings potential for damaged and downed trees across North Carolina


RALEIGH, NC - Snow, ice and freezing rain 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 to always think safety first.

“I want to urge everyone to be extra cautious, especially if you intend to be out preparing trees for a winter storm or cleaning up afterwards,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “As always, resources are available to landowners for assistance with any concerns about your woodlands. Contact your N.C. Forest Service county ranger or a consulting forester for questions about managing damaged trees and timber.”

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.
  • 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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