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Newsdesk - 2024


June 5, 2024

N.C. Forest Service finds laurel wilt in Pamlico 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 detected on private property in the southwestern corner of Pamlico County, bringing the number of counties where the tree-killing disease has been detected to 19. Laurel wilt was recently detected in nearby Pitt County in April.

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

“We received a call from a private landowner who had observed several dead or dying redbay trees on his property,” said Daniel McCoy, Pamlico County ranger with the N.C. Forest Service. “Our service forester, one of our forest health specialists and I met with the landowner on-site where we located several dead redbay trees that were displaying symptoms such as wilted leaves, frass toothpicks and dark staining of the main stem below the bark.”

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 12 states, from Texas to Virginia. Redbay ambrosia beetles are known to cover short distances flying tree to tree but humans aid in spreading the pest over long distances 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.

Laurel wilt has been found in the following North Carolina counties: Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and Wayne.

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

The detection of laurel wilt in Pamlico County was confirmed by pathologists at N.C. State University’s Plant Disease and Insect Clinic.

The N.C. Forest Service Forest Health Branch monitors the spread of invasive pests. People who suspect there is an infected tree in an area near them should contact their county ranger. Contact information can be found online at www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

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

For more information about laurel wilt, visit www.ncforestservice.gov and follow the links under the Forest Health section. To find contact information for your local NCFS county ranger, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

 

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May 29, 2024

Holmes Educational State Forest reopens forestry center following renovations


HENDERSONVILLE -- Holmes Educational State Forest (ESF) has reopened its forestry center following renovations. Also known as the treehouse, the forestry center is located at the trailhead of the Talking Tree Trail and includes a variety of exhibits and an indoor space for educational programs.

“Holmes Educational State Forest is incredibly grateful for the North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority for providing funds to make this renovation possible,” says Holmes ESF Supervisor Susan Fay. “Through their generous support, we will further our mission to teach visitors of all ages that the forest is a complex ecosystem that can be managed to enhance the quality of life for all.”

Renovations included installation of new forestry and environmental exhibits, a digital display, windows and doors, exterior siding, interior paneling, gutters and painting. Trails leading to the treehouse were also improved and hazard trees were removed. In addition to funding the renovation of the treehouse and its exhibits, grant funding also helped purchase a set of stadium seats to provide comfort and support during programs.

“We’re excited to have an enclosed space where we can work with groups,” says Fay. “The treehouse will also provide a space where visitors can learn about forestry tools, environmental topics and so much more. We’re looking forward to having visitors come out for a hike or picnic and hope that they’ll include the treehouse in their visit.”

Holmes ESF is located in Hendersonville and contains more than five miles of pedestrian only trails. Free, ranger-led educational programs are available to school groups, scouts and others. The forest offers picnic tables and grills as well as a covered picnic shelter that can be reserved. Forest hours of operation are:

  • Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • The forest will be open Independence Day.
  • The forest is closed Mondays.

The North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Initiative is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to advance sustainability through forest-focused collaboration with the forest sector, brand owners, conservation groups, resource professionals, landowners, educators, local communities, Indigenous Peoples, governments and universities.

The Henderson County Tourism Development Authority strives to generate and enhance tourism opportunities in Henderson County through strategic promotion coordinated with tourism-related businesses and local government, and to contribute to a vibrant, sustainable economy. Funding for the organization is provided by a 5% occupancy tax on Henderson County accommodations.

For more information about Holmes ESF, visit www.ncesf.org/holmes.html.

 

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May 22, 2024

N.C. Forest Service detects emerald ash borer in five new counties


RALEIGH -- The N.C. Forest Service has deemed five new counties positive for the emerald ash borer (EAB). Newly impacted counties are Anson, Bertie, Duplin, Martin and Sampson, bringing the number of counties in the state where the tree-killing insect has been detected to 76.

“Seasonal trapping for EAB typically runs from late March to early May. During that time, we were able to extract adult beetles from ash stands in Anson, Bertie, Duplin and Sampson counties,” said Jim Moeller, forest health specialist with the N.C. Forest Service. “While we weren’t able to physically uncover the insect in Martin County, current signs and symptoms found in ash trees indicate EAB infestations are already underway. We’re going to consider Martin County positive based on these indicators so landowners will know what to expect and can plan accordingly.”

EAB is a metallic green beetle that bores into ash trees and feeds on tissues beneath the bark, ultimately killing the tree. Adult borers lay eggs on the bark of ash trees. When the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the bark and feed on 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 an 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.

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.

EAB has been found in more than 75% of North Carolina counties including all of Western North Carolina, most of the Piedmont and continues to track east. The entire state 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 Florida.

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 Service 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 www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

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

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.

 

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April 16, 2024

N.C. Forest Service announces 2023 Tree City USA, Tree Campus Higher Education and Tree Line USA recipients


RALEIGH -- The N.C. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program has announced that 71 communities, 12 campuses and two utilities have been awarded Tree City USA, Tree Campus Higher Education and Tree Line USA designations for 2023.

Communities of Gastonia, Hendersonville and Southern Pines earned the Tree City USA Growth Award for 2023. Communities that have already been designated a Tree City for one year are eligible to apply for the Tree City USA Growth Award in its second consecutive year. The Tree City USA Growth Award recognizes specific community efforts toward environmental improvement, higher levels of tree care and stronger community tree care programs.

The Tree City USA program is a national program that provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns. By meeting four core standards of sound urban forestry management, communities can achieve Tree City USA status.

“The urban forestry achievements of our communities are deserving of recognition because their actions will further enhance the quality of life in these communities and the state,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Achieving any of these acknowledgements reinforces a community’s commitment to healthy urban tree canopy, tree conservation, reduced stormwater runoff, increased property values, clean air and water.”

Similarly, two and four-year accredited colleges and universities can promote healthy trees and earn Tree Campus Higher Education accolades. Utility companies who demonstrate sound utility pruning practices and balance the demands of expanding utility needs alongside the benefits of providing adequate care for our urban forests are eligible for Tree Line USA honors.

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.

The NCFS Urban and Community Forestry program oversees the application and award process for Tree City USA, Tree Campus Higher Education and Tree Line USA.

To learn more about N.C. Forest Service urban and community forestry programs and services, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/Urban/Urban_Forestry.htm. For a complete list of Tree City, Tree Campus and Tree Line USA recipients, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/Urban/pdf/Tree_City_USA/Tree%20City-Campus-Line_Recipients.pdf.

 

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April 8, 2024

Environmental Passport Hike Program available at DuPont State Recreational Forest


CEDAR MOUNTAIN -- DuPont State Recreational Forest (DSRF) is offering a self-guided, free Environmental Passport Hike Program to visitors of all ages that will introduce a variety of environmental concepts during a short hike.

The Environmental Passport Hike begins and ends at the Aleen Steinberg Visitor Center located at High Falls Access Area off Staton Road, where participants can pick up a pencil and the passport. Participants hike along the 1.4-mile High Falls Loop where they’ll find six trailside display panels. At each panel, visitors can create a rubbing in their passport of a small, one-inch disk while learning about forest diversity, “Leave No Trace” principles, trail use guidance and recommendations, prescribed burns and other forest management practices, the importance of trees and their role in cleaning our water. The hike concludes at the visitor center where hikers return their pencils and enjoy their passport souvenir from their visit to DSRF.

“DuPont State Recreational Forest is one of North Carolina’s most visited state forests and we are excited to offer this educational experience to expand visitors’ knowledge of important forestry benefits and how we can protect these valued resources,” said DSRF Forest Supervisor Jason Guidry. “We’re grateful for the funding support from the North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Transylvania County Tourism Development Authority for this program.”

The NCSFI is an independent, non-profit organization that strives to advance sustainability through forest-focused collaboration with the forest sector, brand owners, conservation groups, resource professionals, landowners, educators, local communities, indigenous peoples, governments and universities.

The TCTDA strives to generate and enhance tourism opportunities in Transylvania County through strategic promotion coordinated with tourism-related businesses and local government, and to contribute to a vibrant, sustainable economy. Funding for the organization is provided by a 5% occupancy tax on Transylvania County accommodations.

For more information about DSRF, visit its website at https://www.dupontstaterecreationalforest.com.

 

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April 1, 2024

Laurel wilt found in Pitt 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 on private property in southern Pitt County near the Neuse River and Craven County line. Laurel wilt was previously detected in the same area in 2022 on the Craven County side of the line.

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

“The detection was made by NCFS forest health and NCFS Pitt County staff while assisting a landowner,” said Jim Moeller, forest health specialist. “We noticed redbay trees that were wilted and after a closer look, observed vascular streaking. We returned the following week to collect samples that were later confirmed to be laurel wilt.”

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 12 states, from Texas to Virginia. Redbay ambrosia beetles are known to cover short distances flying tree to tree but humans aid in spreading the pest over long distances 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 moved to a landfill or off-site. Proper disposal of redbay trees includes leaving wood on-site, cutting or chipping wood on-site, or burning wood on-site in compliance with local and state ordinances. You can obtain a burn permit at any authorized permitting agent or online at www.ncforestservice.gov/burnpermit.

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

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

 

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March 27, 2024

DuPont State Recreational Forest invites public to participate in review meeting for Master Recreation Plan


CEDAR MOUNTAIN -- DuPont State Recreational Forest (DSRF) and Mattern & Craig will hold a final public event focused on the development of the DSRF Master Recreation Plan. The event will be held Saturday, April 6, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Glenn Marlow Elementary School Gym in Mills River.

“Through the master recreation planning process, we have gained a great amount of insight and understanding of the public’s needs for this forest along with a better assessment of the critical values at risk such as our natural heritage, visitor experiences and the capacity of our organization to maintain our infrastructure,” said DSRF Supervisor Jason Guidry. “We look forward to completing this planning process soon and to continue finding paths forward that are sustainable for our users, ecosystems and agency. We feel the master recreation planning process was expertly managed and provided diverse and frequent opportunities for public input. We appreciate our stakeholders, cooperators and the N.C. Department of Agriculture for making this significant and impactful project possible.”

This final public event will be an opportunity to learn about data summaries, recreational trend analyses and recommendations for existing trails, development of recently acquired property, regional trail connectors and the former manufacturing site as it pertains to the DSRF Master Recreation Plan. Previous meetings were held throughout 2023 in the spring, summer and fall with approximately 500 attendees providing input relative to preferences and priorities of forest use.

In addition to input from the public events, contractors conducted focus groups with representatives from DSRF’s traditional user groups: hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, hunters and anglers. An online survey and a multiday, on-site survey provided additional input for the DSRF Master Recreation Plan. All input has been supplemented by data and comments gathered from the DSRF Advisory Committee and a comprehensive assessment of the entire DSRF trail system.

In 2021, the N.C. General Assembly allocated $200,000 for the development of the master recreation plan and $550,000 for implementing the plan. An additional $99,000 was donated by the Friends of DuPont Forest through grants from the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority and the Transylvania County Tourism Development Authority.

For more information about DSRF or the master recreation plan, visit https://www.dupontstaterecreationalforest.com.

 

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March 13, 2024

N.C. Forest Service celebrates the importance of Arbor Day and the many benefits provided by trees


RALEIGH -- North Carolina Arbor Day will be observed March 22 to commemorate the annual tree-planting holiday that dates to 1872.

“Tree planting is a natural and simple solution to many challenges that we face each year in North Carolina,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We are 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.”

Forestry programs and resources include cost-share programs such as the Forest Development Program and the Urban and Community Forestry Financial Assistance 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.

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.

“Communities all across the state are holding Arbor Day celebrations,” said David Lane, state forester. “I encourage everyone to contact your local municipality to be a part of their celebration as an attendee, participant or even an organizer.”

Once deemed “the treeless plain,” Nebraska was home to the first Arbor Day celebration in 1872 with the planting of more than a million trees. North Carolina observes Arbor Day the first Friday following March 15, while National Arbor Day is held the last Friday in April each year.

N.C. Forest Service staff are positioned to help landowners manage their woods and communities manage their urban forest. NCFS county staff are also available to assist with developing Arbor Day celebrations and Tree City USA, Tree Campus Higher Education and Tree Line USA awards during community celebrations.

Find your county ranger’s contact information at www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts. Learn more about the N.C. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program at www.ncforestservice.gov/Urban/Urban_Forestry.htm.

 

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March 11, 2024

N.C. Forest Service planning prescribed fire operations for DuPont State Recreational Forest in Cedar Mountain


CEDAR MOUNTAIN -- The N.C. Forest Service is planning to conduct four prescribed fire operations at DuPont State Recreational Forest during March and April 2024. The prescribed burns will be carried out as weather and conditions permit.

Prescribed fire is the carefully planned use of fire under strict, predetermined weather and fuel parameters to obtain specific management objectives. This critical tool remains one of the most efficient and cost-effective forest management practices, helping North Carolina forests remain healthy and thrive.

The objectives for these prescribed fires are to improve overall health of the forest and wildlife habitat while consuming vegetative fuels to reduce wildfire risk.

Areas targeted for these prescribed burns include Burnt Mountain, the area northwest of Joana Road, Guion Farm fields, and Bridal Veil Falls Road fields.

Visitors to the forest may see and smell smoke in the air during and after the prescribed burn operation. While the forest will remain open to the public during prescribed burns, forest areas and trails near the burn areas may be closed. For your safety, please abide by all posted closures.

To learn more about the benefits of prescribed fire, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/goodfire.

 

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March 7, 2024

N.C. Forest Service planning prescribed fire operation for Holmes Educational State Forest in Hendersonville


HENDERSONVILLE -- The N.C. Forest Service is planning to conduct a prescribed burn in Holmes Educational State Forest (ESF) located in Hendersonville. The burn will be conducted as weather and conditions permit during the week of March 11.

Prescribed fire is the carefully planned use of fire under strict, predetermined weather and fuel parameters to obtain specific management objectives. This critical tool remains one of the most efficient and cost-effective forest management practices, helping North Carolina forests remain healthy and thrive.

The goal of the prescribed fire is to benefit the forest environment by improving wildlife habitat and the overall health of the forest while reducing vegetative fuels.

Visitors to the forest may see and smell smoke in the air during and after the prescribed burn operation. While the forest will remain open to the public during prescribed burns, forest areas and trails near the burn areas may be closed. For more information about closures, contact the Holmes ESF office at 828-692-0100.

To learn more about the benefits of prescribed fire, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/goodfire.

 

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March 6, 2024

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 N.C. 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, 2024, and will close May 31, 2024.
  • “Plant-Only Fund” enrollment period will begin Sept. 1, 2024, and will close Oct. 25, 2024.

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

The number of FDP cost share funding requests continues to be significantly greater than available funding. To award funding, the NCFS State Headquarters will continue to utilize a random-draw lottery. Available funding amounts include $300,000 from the “Mountain Fund”; $1.7 million from the “Base Fund”; and $700,000 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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March 4, 2024

North Carolina's educational state forests transition to summer hours of operation


RALEIGH -- North Carolina’s educational state forests (ESFs) are shifting from the winter schedule to summer hours of operation. With this transition, ESFs resumed weekend operations and visitation hours March 1. Summer hours will remain in effect through Oct. 31. Forest hours of operation are:

  • Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Closed Mondays and designated state holidays except Good Friday and Independence Day.

During summer hours of operation, ESFs also welcome school groups, scouts and others to schedule educational programs covering a variety of topics such as forestry, water, soil and wildlife. A minimum of 10 students are required for educational programs with forest staff. Programs can accommodate as many as 100 students.

For forest contact information and to learn more about forest programming and amenities, visit https://www.ncesf.org/.

 

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Feb. 26, 2024

N.C. Forest Service urging residents to know when, where and how to safely burn outdoors


RALEIGH -- March will officially cue the start of spring wildfire season in North Carolina, and the N.C. Forest Service is urging residents to use caution with all outdoor fires, especially yard debris burns.

The N.C. Forest Service responded to more than 5,300 wildfires across North Carolina in 2023, with escaped debris burns as the leading cause.

“Last year, 99% of wildfires in our state were directly related to human activity,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “This means that most of our wildfires could have been prevented. Before choosing to burn yard debris, make sure you have a valid burn permit, check the weather and avoid burning on dry, windy days. You are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing wildfires.”

Spring weather tends to draw people outdoors to work in their yards and many choose burning as a method to dispose of leaves, limbs and other yard debris.

“During the spring season, fires can spread quickly,” said North Carolina State Forester David Lane. “Your N.C. Forest Service county ranger is a resource and can provide guidance about when, where and how to burn safely outdoors. Contact your local NCFS county ranger’s office before starting an outdoor fire.”

The N.C. Forest Service also offers the following tips:

  • 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 www.ncforestservice.gov/burnpermit.
  • 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.
  • Be sure you are fully prepared before burning. To control the fire, you will need a hose, bucket, steel rake and a shovel for tossing dirt on the fire. Keep a phone nearby, too.
  • Never use kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel or other flammable liquids to speed up debris burning.
  • Stay with your fire until it is completely out.

To learn more about fire safety and preventing wildfires and loss of property, refer to Fire Safety Outdoors. For information about creating defensible space and a fire-resistant landscape around your home and property, visit www.resistwildfirenc.org. Contact information for county rangers with the N.C. Forest Service is available online at www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.

 

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Feb. 14, 2024

N.C. Forest Service to conduct prescribed burn in Reynolda area of Winston-Salem


WINSTON-SALEM -- The N.C. Forest Service is planning to conduct a 14-acre prescribed burn in the historic Reynolda area of Winston-Salem in Forsyth County. This operation will be conducted Thursday, Feb. 15, or Friday, Feb. 16, as weather and conditions permit. The burn will help minimize impacts from invasive species such as tree of heaven, overgrown weeds and other undesirable grasses, improving the habitat for a variety of wildlife species and the overall health of the meadow.

Prescribed fire is the carefully planned use of fire under strict, predetermined weather and fuel parameters to obtain specific management objectives. This is a critical management tool that benefits forests and wildlife and helps reduce the impacts of wildfire hazards.

Smoke impacts during the burn should be minimal with no residual smoke expected following the burn.

Winston-Salem Fire, Forsyth County Fire Marshal's Office, Wake Forest University and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will assist with the prescribed burning operation.

Prescribed fire remains one of the most effective forest management practices, helping North Carolina forests remain healthy and thrive.

To learn more about the benefits of prescribed fire, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/goodfire.

 

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Feb. 6, 2024

N.C. Forest Service planning prescribed fire operations for Clemmons Educational State Forest in Clayton


CLAYTON -- The N.C. Forest Service is planning to conduct prescribed fire operations in Clemmons Educational State Forest located in Clayton. These operations will be conducted as weather and conditions permit during February and March.

Prescribed fire is the carefully planned use of fire under strict, predetermined weather and fuel parameters to obtain specific management objectives. This critical tool remains one of the most efficient and cost-effective forest management practices, helping North Carolina forests remain healthy and thrive.

The goals of these specific prescribed fires are to benefit the forest environment by improving wildlife habitat and the overall health of the forest while reducing vegetative fuels.

Visitors to the forest may see and smell smoke in the air during and after prescribed burn operations. While the forest will remain open to the public during prescribed burns, forest areas and trails near the burn areas may be closed. For more information about closures, contact the Clemmons ESF office at 919-553-5651.

To learn more about the benefits of prescribed fire, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/goodfire.

 

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Jan. 23, 2024

Surry County rangers with the N.C. Forest Service named recipients of the Moreland Gueth Water Quality Award


DOBSON -- N.C. Forest Service Surry County rangers Janet White and Elizabeth Edwards have been named recipients of the 2023 Moreland Gueth Water Quality Award. This award is presented annually to the N.C. Forest Service employee or team of employees who demonstrate creativity and dedication toward the protection of North Carolina’s water resources.

“Janet and Elizabeth have embraced water quality,” said Nancy Blackwood, district forester for NCFS District 10. “They both have a passion for clean water and are dedicated to improving the condition of logging jobs in Surry County to protect our streams from sedimentation and flow issues.”

Established in 2010, the Moreland Gueth Water Quality Award pays tribute to its namesake, who served as the N.C. Forest Service’s water quality and wetlands staff forester from 1995 to 2004. Gueth took a firm stance on protecting water quality, but remained fair and used a common-sense approach when working with loggers and landowners to keep forests working for North Carolina.

White began as assistant county ranger for Surry County in October 2019. By January 2020, White had been promoted to county ranger with Edwards becoming assistant county ranger in July 2020. Since then, the number of water quality inspections in Surry County have increased. In 2023, White and Edwards conducted 65 initial inspections for 1,697 acres.

Actions for protecting the quality of water resources include encouraging robust and effective streamside management zones (SMZs), working to advance the installation of erosion and sedimentation control measures and addressing concerns related to minimizing impacts from NCFS fire control operations. Surry County encountered two major wildfires in 2021 and 2022 with the Grindstone Fire in the fall of 2021 and the Gator Fire in the spring of 2022.

“The district quickly addressed rehabilitation needs as usual but it was Janet and Elizabeth who had to carry out the duties by working with N.C. State Parks and private landowners to stabilize the sites. Plans were made and rehabilitation was complete before erosion potential became an issue,” Blackwood said. “I have seen the water quality program in Surry County improve drastically through Janet and Elizabeth’s dedication to ensuring the streams in Surry County are protected.”

To learn more about water quality regulations, laws, guidance and best management practices to help keep forests working for North Carolina, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/water_quality/water_quality.htm.

 

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