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Newsdesk - 2022

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-Vane County Office about programs and services available for landowners, call 919-693-3154 or email

Montague's story can be viewed on Youtube by following this link:


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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


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