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Newsdesk - 2021

March 1, 2021

Dupont State Recreational Forest bridge named in honor of Bill Yarborough

RALEIGH, NC- Agricultural Commissioner Steve Troxler honored longtime N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services employee Bill Yarborough by naming the Dupont State Recreational Forest Little River Access Bridge in his honor. Yarborough recently retired after 35 years of service in Western North Carolina.

“This bridge would not be here without Bill’s dedication, determination and strong desire to improve this forest for the citizens of Western North Carolina,” Troxler said. “Bill has always made it his top priority to make sure folks in Western North Carolina were heard. This part of the state has benefitted from his years of work and will continue to benefit from the legacy of service he has left. It is very fitting that we leave this legacy for him.”

The pedestrian bridge across the Little River was completed during the summer of 2013. “For roughly a year, Bill rolled up his sleeves and worked tirelessly with the N.C. Department of Transportation and other partners to make this project happen,” said Scott Bissette, assistant commissioner. “If it wasn’t for Bill’s efforts, the bridge project would not have happened as quickly.”

With the increase in visitation experienced at Dupont State Recreational Forest, the bridge has provided visitors who park in the Hooker Falls Access parking areas with a safe passage. “This bridge has served a critical need, resolving a longstanding public safety issue for millions of visitors crossing a highly-used highway to access the forest,” said Jason Guidry, forest supervisor.

In addition to the bridge naming, Yarborough received an ambassador of agriculture award for his committed service to Western North Carolina.

“I don’t believe there is anyone as passionate about and committed to Western North Carolina communities as Bill Yarborough, and that is evidenced by the many projects he has spearheaded and seen completed over the years,” Troxler said. “Bill has been relentless in his work, whether he was involved in projects to expand and add much-needed facilities at DuPont State Recreational Forest, fostering public-private partnerships to make $4 million worth of upgrades to the Western N.C. Ag Center and WNC Farmers Markets, or encouraging support for hemlock restoration efforts.”

In addition to those activities, some of Yarborough’s career highlights include: helping distribute direct relief payments for farmers through Operation Brighter Day following back-to-back hurricanes in 2004; leading a hay relief/livestock feed effort during a devastating drought in 2006; supporting critical agriculture and conservation efforts in Western N.C. through the distribution of Tennessee Valley Authority settlement funds in 2014; overseeing departmental efforts to support healthy bee populations by expanding pollinator habitats statewide; and assisting with the planning and development of Mountain Island Educational State Forest.

“Bill’s list of accomplishments, recognitions and awards is extensive, but one of his greatest contributions is bringing people and groups together collaboratively to make projects happen,” Troxler said. “If someone said it could not be done, Bill was determined to show them it could. If you look around Western N.C., you will see plenty of projects that are examples of that.”


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February 18, 2021

Winter storm brings ice, freezing rain, potential for damaged and downed trees across North Carolina

RALEIGH, NC- Ice and freezing rain can be common weather events during the winter months. These types of weather events can severely impact trees and forested areas across the state. The N.C. Forest Service urges property owners and anyone preparing for or cleaning up after a storm to be cautious and think safety first.

“If you’re out preparing trees for a winter storm or cleaning up after one, be extra cautious,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “If you’re a landowner with concerns about your woodlands, you have resources available to help you with a plan for managing damaged trees and timber. Contact your county ranger or a consulting forester.”

If you are a property owner preparing for a winter storm or cleaning up after one, here are some helpful tips and guidelines:

Before the Storm

  • Prevention is key. Properly pruned trees with strong branch attachments will hold up better in an ice storm.
  • Prune branches with weak attachments, co-dominant trunks and other defects. Hire a qualified arborist to ensure trees are pruned properly. Look for tree service companies with a certified arborist on staff and/or Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) accreditation.
  • Do not top your tree. Topped trees will quickly regrow new branches which are weakly attached and more likely to break during storms.
During the Storm
  • Safety first! Stay indoors in a safe place. Your safety is most important.
  • Do not attempt to knock ice or snow from branches. This will likely cause the branch to break, possibly injuring you. Branches are designed to bend and stretch. Quick shocks or instant bends will cause them to break more easily rather than bending slowly.
  • Do not spray water on a tree, attempting to melt ice or snow, as it will likely add more weight to the tree.
  • Do not try to prop up bending or sagging limbs.
  • Do not touch limbs that may be in contact with power lines.
After the Storm
  • Wait until ice or snow has melted before cleaning up.
  • Cleaning up downed debris presents many safety risks. First, assess safety conditions of your family, home and neighborhood. There may be a debris field, making for poor footing. There may be potentially downed power lines. If electrical wires are an issue, do not attempt tree work. Contact your utility company and let them remove the electrical wires.
  • Only attempt to clean up minor tree debris.
  • Wait until ice or snow has melted before cleaning up.
  • Operating a chainsaw on storm-damaged trees is dangerous. Historically, more people are injured by chainsaws than the storm that caused the tree damage. Never operate a chainsaw alone and always operate a chainsaw in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Work only on the ground, and always wear personal protective equipment such as a hard hat, a full-face shield or safety goggles, and hearing protection. Be aware of cutting any branches under tension or pressure.
  • Avoid leaving broken limbs on your tree. All broken or torn parts of the tree should be properly pruned. A proper pruning cut will promote sealing off the wound and reduce further threat of decay or excessive sprouting.
  • Hire an arborist with experience in storm restoration pruning.
  • Consider hiring an arborist with Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) to fully evaluate the condition of your tree(s) after a damaging storm.

Choose a qualified and insured tree service or consulting arborist. To find qualified arborists in your area, visit The International Society of Arboriculture, the American Society of Consulting Arborists, or the Tree Care Industry Association.

For more information and advice on proper tree care and tree assessment following a storm, visit NCFS Damage Recovery. Additional advice on proper tree care can be found on the N.C. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program webpage or by calling 919-857-4842. To find contact information for your local NCFS county ranger, visit


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January 22, 2021

Urban and Community Forestry grant applications now available

RALEIGH, NC- The N.C. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program began accepting applications for its annual grant program beginning Jan. 1, 2021. The deadline for submitting applications is 5 p.m. EST, March 31, 2021. This grant program provides funding for projects that will enhance the benefits and sustainable management of urban forests in North Carolina communities.

Eligible projects include:

  • Tree inventories and canopy cover assessments;
  • Management plan development;
  • Ordinance development;
  • Professional staff and development;
  • Education and training; and,
  • Advocacy group development

Grant funds are available for local and state government entities, public educational institutions, nonprofits and other tax-exempt organizations. Applicants can request $2,500 to $15,000 in grant funding. Grant funding covers 50% of project costs and requires matching funds or in-kind efforts. Projects should encourage citizen involvement in creating and sustaining urban and community forestry programs. Projects must be completed within an 11-month project schedule beginning September 2021 and ending July 31, 2022.

To learn more about the NCFS Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program and to access grant application instructions and a copy of the Request for Proposals, visit the Urban and Community Forestry section of the N.C. Forest Service website.

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