It was my first prescribed burn. After weeks of training, and months of anticipation, I was finally on the ground – drip torch in hand – ready to apply fire to restore the mixed pine-hardwood forests at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, on the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest.
On Dec. 5, two scientists with the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station, including Assistant Director Kier Klepzig, received an agency award for their work to prevent attacks of the Southern pine beetle — a pest that’s responsible for annual losses estimated in the billions of dollars.
The U.S. Forest Service, Macon County Sheriff’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation are seeking the public’s help in finding the perpetrator of a Sept. 25 rape that occurred in the Nantahala National Forest. The agencies have released a sketch of the suspect, who is considered armed and dangerous.
If you see smoke in the Bent Creek area this coming week, it’s likely part of a research project: If weather conditions remain safe, the USDA Forest Service says it will conduct a prescribed burn sometime during the week of July 25. The burn is being done for research purposes on the Bent Creek Experimental Forest near Lake Powhatan, southwest of Asheville, say officials at the Southern Research Station of the USDA Forest Service.
Photo by Jonathan Welch