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Newsdesk - 2014

Autumn brings the fall of tree seed
November 20, 2014

RALEIGH – This autumn, tons of seed from many different tree species have hit the ground in record amounts. And squirrels weren’t the only ones looking for it.

N.C. Forest Service staff from across the state collected the seed used to grow more than 50 types of tree seedlings for the agency’s nursery program. The NCFS sells these native seedlings to landowners at low cost for a variety of purposes, such as reforestation, wetlands mitigation, aesthetic improvement and wildlife habitat creation.

"While trees make some seed almost every year, a crop of this size only occurs about every four or five years," said James West, head of the NCFS Nursery and Tree Improvement Program. "Things have to be just right when it comes to rain, temperatures and wind events. If one of those parameters is off, the seed yield is lower."

This fall has proven to be a bumper crop year for most species across the state, West said. The weather conditions for the last two years have been favorable for trees to produce seed such as acorns, drupes and cones. In some species, seed production can take two years to complete.

This year’s heavy seed crop has enabled the nursery staff to process seeds from many species and prepare them for long-term storage. This will ensure that seedlings will be available to North Carolina landowners in future years when tree seed may not be as plentiful.

Landowners interested in planting trees this winter or spring may order their seedlings by calling 1-888-NCTREES or visiting

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Fall wildfire season is here; be careful when burning yard debris
October 24, 2014

RALEIGH – The N.C. Forest Service is urging residents to think safety and exercise caution during the fall fire season, which typically lasts from mid-October into December.

In the fall, people do a lot of yard work that often includes burning leaves and yard debris. These fires sometimes escape and start wildfires.

The N.C. Forest Service encourages residents considering debris burning to contact their local county forest ranger. The ranger can offer technical advice and explain the best options to help maximize the safety to people, property and the forest.

"By acting safely, we can all help to protect our natural resources," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "Don’t burn on dry, windy days, and maintain a careful watch over a fire until it is out."

For people who choose to burn debris, the NCFS encourages them to follow these tips to protect property and prevent wildfires:

  • Consider alternatives to burning. Some types of debris, such as leaves, grass and stubble, may be of more value if they are not burned, but used for 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 burning permit at any NCFS office or authorized permitting agent, or online at
  • 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 contained in a screened receptacle, away from overhead branches and wires.
  • Household trash should be hauled away to a trash or recycling station. It is illegal to burn anything other than yard debris.
  • 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 burning.
  • Stay with your fire until it is completely out.
  • These same tips hold true for campfires and cookouts as well. Douse burning charcoal briquettes or campfires thoroughly with water. When soaked; stir the coals and soak them again. Be sure they are out cold and carefully feel to be sure they are extinguished. Never dump hot ashes or coals into a wooded area.
  • 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. Before doing any burning in a wooded area, contact your county ranger, who will weigh all factors, explain them and offer technical advice.

For more information on ways you can prevent wildfires, visit

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Hours of operation will be posted at DuPont State Recreational Forest starting Nov. 2
October 20, 2014

CEDAR MOUNTAIN - DuPont State Recreational Forest staff will be instituting hours of operation on Nov. 2. The forest will be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Hours will be posted at each of the DSRF access areas: High Falls, Hooker Falls, Corn Mill Shoals, Fawn Lake, Lake Imaging and Guion Farm.

Only forest employees and authorized persons will be allowed within the forest between closing and opening hours except under permit.

DSRF will offer permits for legitimate use of the forest after hours. Requests for permits may be submitted through the DSRF website or by email to

As with any permitted activity, the volume of permits issued will be based on available staff resources and observed impacts to the forest. The permit will be free of charge and must be displayed on vehicles parking at access areas and various trail entrances. The after-hours permit will allow for up to four people to use the forest, as long as they remain in a group during the permitted activity. The most current version of the DSRF after-hours policy can be found at

There will be an introductory period between Nov. 2 and Jan. 1 in which the enforcement of the policy will be primarily through education and verbal warnings. After the introductory period, the N.C. Forest Service and local law enforcement will fully enforce the hours of operation. Violations can result in expulsion from the forest and a citation for a Class III misdemeanor.

To learn more about DuPont State Recreational Forest, visit or call the forest at 828-877-6527.

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Board of Agriculture approves fees for woodland plans
August 19, 2014

Fees were required by legislature in state budget

RALEIGH – The N.C. Board of Agriculture recently approved fees for woodland management plans, following a directive from the state General Assembly.

The state budget approved by the General Assembly directed the N.C. Forest Service to start charging for woodland plans, commonly referred to as forest management plans. The budget bill also allowed the Board of Agriculture to review and approve the fees.

"The North Carolina Forest Service has been helping protect, manage and promote North Carolina’s forests for nearly 100 years," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "They have a lot of experience assisting woodland owners with valuable and tax-saving management advice. I believe the Board of Agriculture approved reasonable fees that will allow the N.C. Forest Service to continue delivering the professional services its customers have come to expect."

Woodland plans will have a base fee of $45. In addition, there will be a fee of $3 per acre for forest management plans and forest stewardship plans, both of which are comprehensive plans. Practice plans, which are simpler plans that usually address just one management practice, will cost $2 per acre in addition to the base fee.

The NCFS offers a variety of forestry programs and services that are still free of charge.

There are financial and environmental benefits to having a woodland plan, said Sean Brogan, director of forest management and development for the NCFS. Certain types of plans can qualify a landowner for participation in the state’s Forestry Present Use Valuation Program, resulting in significant property tax reductions. The tax savings realized in the first year alone are usually more than enough to cover the cost of a woodland plan, Brogan said. Woodland plan preparation fees can also be considered a deductible management expense for annual tax purposes.

Woodland plans provide detailed forestry recommendations, but they can also advise landowners on wildlife habitat, soil and water protection, recreation opportunities and aesthetics. In addition, they can help qualify landowners for forestry recognition programs, including forest certification.

Landowners interested in state or federal cost-share programs typically need an approved woodland plan. Participation in many of these programs results in a cost savings of 40 percent or more, depending on the program. Cost-share payments help to reduce the initial capital investment needed for many forestry projects, which leads to higher overall financial returns to the woodland owner.

Landowners interested in forestry advice and a woodland plan should contact their local county ranger for more details. Click on the "Contact Us" section of the NCFS website ( for county information. Landowners also can call the agency’s central office at 919-857-4801 for assistance.

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N.C. Forest Service reports accidental death of education ranger in Lenoir
August 13, 2014

Jimmy HalliburtonRALEIGH – It is with great sadness that the N.C. Forest Service must report the accidental death of a member of its Forest Service family, Education Ranger Jimmy Halliburton, 31, of Tuttle Educational State Forest in Lenoir.

The accident occurred this afternoon as Halliburton and other staff members were attempting to use a tractor to remove a fallen tree from a roadway on forest property. The tree apparently struck Halliburton in the torso.

EMS was notified immediately, but Halliburton was pronounced dead at the scene. Information about the accident is still being gathered, and Tuttle Educational State Forest will remain closed until Aug. 19.

"We are heartbroken over the loss of Jimmy Halliburton, and our prayers are with his family," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

A resident of Morganton, Halliburton had worked for the Forest Service since November 2003 and at Tuttle since September 2007.

The Forest Service is asking members of the media and public to please respect the privacy of Halliburton’s family during this difficult time.

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Forest landowner workshop and tour
May 6, 2014

CONTACT: Richard Cockerham
Service Forester

The N.C. Forest Service is holding a free workshop and woodland tour on Thursday, May 15th, 2014, for interested landowners at Wilkes Community College from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

During the morning session, participants will learn what resources are available for landowners, about forest silviculture and forest roads, as well as receiving an update on available timber markets. Participants will also receive a free lunch before taking a walk in the woods to develop a better understanding of the topics discussed during the morning session. The afternoon field visit will be held rain or shine and transportation will be provided to the site.

The meeting will be held in Room 312 of the Hayes Building at Wilkes Community College, check in begins at 9:00 a.m. and the workshop begins at 9:30 a.m

Participants are required to register by May 8. Seating is limited to 40 people so landowners are encouraged to register early. To register call the N.C. Forest Service at (828) 757-5611 or email Richard Cockerham, NCFS Service Forester at

The program is being presented by the North Carolina Forest Service, in cooperation with the N.C. Tree Farm Program, and is sponsored by Forestland Consultants, and Casey & Company Forestry, both located in Wilkesboro.

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N.C. Forest Service urges caution in woodland damage assessment
May 1, 2014

RALEIGH — The N.C. Forest Service encourages landowners and others to exercise caution when assessing damage to their woodlands and urban trees from recent storms. Landowners that are concerned about the health of their woodlands should seek advice from their county ranger.

"Very often, woodlands that appear to have been severely damaged can recover. Landowners should be fully informed prior to making any significant decisions about their trees," said David Lane, state forester. "Yard and urban trees that are damaged may be able to have their health and beauty restored with pruning and selective care. If the basic structure of a tree is intact, it may be in an owner’s best interest to save the tree."

Tree topping is not a viable solution for storm-damage recovery. The sprouts that occur after tree topping are fast-growing, weakly attached branches that are more likely to break off in future storms, Lane said. If landowners are concerned about the health of their trees, contact a certified arborist to assess tree health and structural integrity.

"Most tree work should be done only by those trained and equipped to work safely in and around trees,” Lane said. “Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained to provide proper care."

Extra care should also be taken if burning storm debris. Careless burning of debris is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in North Carolina. With the potential for many downed trees and branches, landowners may be tempted to burn. There are many factors to consider before burning any debris. County forest rangers can provide technical advice, current weather conditions and explain the best options to help maximize the safety to people, property and the forest.

Check local laws on debris burning prior to striking a match. Some communities allow burning only during specified hours, while others forbid it entirely. Be sure to check the weather. Don't burn on dry, windy days, and consider alternatives to burning. Some types of debris, such as leaves, grass and stubble, may be of more value if used for compost. It is always illegal to burn household trash or any other non-vegetative matter.

Contact your county forest ranger for the names and locations of the nearest burning permit agent, or obtain one online at Permits are free.

People who choose to do their own cleanup after a storm should work with a partner, particularly when operating equipment such as chain saws. If you are not familiar with chain saws, consult a professional. For more advice on chain saw safety, go to and follow the links under "Managing Your Forest", "Recovering from Storms & Wildfires", to the "Safety Considerations" section.

If you choose to hire a local tree company, most will note their professional affiliation in their advertisement.

The following online resources may be helpful following storms that cause tree damage:

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Transylvania County sheriff’s lieutenant honored for forest protection work
April 17, 2014

CEDAR MOUNTAIN – Lt. Jeff Smith of the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office has received the inaugural Forest Protector Award for outstanding and enduring service to protect the resources of DuPont State Recreational Forest.

The award was developed by N.C. Forest Service staff and Friends of DuPont Forest, a nonprofit group that works to enhance the public use and enjoyment of the forest and protect its natural resources.

Smith was recognized for making a routine patrol stop at Hooker Falls Parking Lot in 2006 to check on a suspicious vehicle. The simple act of running a license plate number led to the conviction of a group of grave robbers who desecrated a burial site in the Moore Cemetery in the forest. Smith also has provided exceptional protection for the forest by responding to numerous emergency calls there and supporting forest rangers in enforcing rules, said Forest Supervisor Jason Guidry.

The award was presented in March. Guidry said Smith appeared to be surprised and touched by the honor. "His fellow lieutenants are proud of him and indicate that this is simply an extension of Lt. Smith’s excellent work throughout the county," Guidry said. "As DuPont State Recreational Forest and Transylvania County continue to increase in their national profile as recreation destinations, we will rely more and more on local law enforcement to help protect our unique natural resources."

Forest Ranger Eric Folk, Friends of DuPont Forest President Beverly Parlier and Treasurer Jerry Clouse presented Smith with a hand-crafted, engraved walnut box. The Friends group provided the funding for the award and Dan Bresnahan, a longtime member, produced it in his workshop.

The Forest Protector Award is based on several criteria, which includes providing at least 10 years of dedicated emergency service to the forest and providing police work that prevents significant damage to forest resources.

"Friends of DuPont Forest is pleased to support this important award that honors law enforcement individuals who go above and beyond to protect and preserve this wonderful asset," Clouse said.

Folk views the award as "a chance to recognize excellence in the emergency response community."

Said Transylvania Sheriff David Mahoney: "Our community is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. I am extremely proud of the relationship we have with the North Carolina Forest Service staff. That partnership allows us to work together to protect some those areas that make our county a special place to live, work and play. The actions of Lt. Smith just highlight the importance of agencies working together for a common goal."

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This page updated: Monday, November 14, 2016 16:04

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