Under an afternoon sky hazy with smoke from forest fires burning nearby, two regional organizations celebrated sustainable forest products and forest management on Saturday, Nov. 12 in Fairview. Rob Lamb, president of EcoForesters, told the assembled crowd of forest lovers that the scale of ongoing wildfires is, in part, the legacy of a century of fire suppression policy. Speaking of the natural history of forests in Western North Carolina before the era of Smokey the Bear, Lamb said, “These forests have been burning for thousands of years,” he said. “In fact, oak trees require fire for their regeneration.”
EcoForesters and Root Cause didn’t let the smoke cast a pall over the event, which recognized three local organizations and one individual for their efforts to advocate for forests in this region.
Asheville-based nonprofit Dogwood Alliance received an award for “its efforts in protecting forests and promoting their wise use,” according to a press release. Executive Director Danna Smith was on hand to accept the award on behalf of the organization.
Dale Remington, timber sales forester for the National Forests in North Carolina, received a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to the health of national forests throughout his career.
Lynn Fidler and Smokey Mountain Lumber of Asheville were recognized for promoting the use of local forest products among businesses and craftspeople.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Office of Natural Resources received the EcoForester award for “promoting the use of positive impact forestry within the Cherokee community and with landowners and stakeholders throughout their ancestral homeland.” Tommy Cabe, tribal forest resource specialist with the Eastern Band, accepted the award and spoke of the tribe’s commitment to considering the impact of present actions on those who will come along seven generations in the future.
Root Cause is dedicated to promoting the use of local forest products in much the same way as locally based agriculture advocates have championed the use of locally grown food.
EcoForesters is a nonprofit forestry organization that provides forest stewardship education and advocacy alongside fee-for-service forest planning. The organization’s Save Sandymush campaign, Lamb said, is an example of the type of work EcoForesters hopes to replicate elsewhere. The campaign is a joint effort with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy to save endangered forestlands threatened by invasive species. “If we can demonstrate success in that project, we can change the trajectory of these forests,” he said.
In a press release, Lang Hornthal, director of Root Cause, said, “Our hope is that as we continue to raise awareness with Root Cause, the community will continue to support businesses and nonprofits that recognize the importance of sustainable forestry and our forest product-based businesses.”