Nebo, N.C., – The Grandfather Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest and a collaborative group of partners from the community, non-profits, and local and state groups have received the 2017 Restored and Resilient Landscapes Award from the U.S. Forest Service Southern Region.
Since 2012, the Grandfather Restoration Collaborative has been working on restoration projects across the Grandfather Ranger District. This year, only six years into the eight year project timeframe, the Grandfather Restoration Project has already exceeded its restoration goal of 40,000 acres.
“The collaborative group's dedication has been key to achieving these amazing accomplishments. Partners have devoted an enormous amount of time and resources to supporting projects that result in a healthier, more diverse forest,” said District Ranger Nick Larson. He added, “We have demonstrated through collaboration the pace and scale of restoration activities can increase significantly. This provides an excellent example of how working together we can do great things.”
The restoration projects include removing dense understory fuels to reduce wildfire risk, restoring shortleaf pines to sites where they would historically would have been found, increasing wildlife openings and improving forage for deer and other wildlife, treating more hemlocks for Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, creating a sustainable trail system, and improving the health of rivers and watersheds.
According to Larson, in each of these projects the collaborative partners have been instrumental to success. “Their dedication goes beyond the norm, with collaboration taking place in the pre-planning and planning stages as well as implementation and monitoring of project activities. From fieldtrips to help identify future project areas, to multi-jurisdiction prescribed burns, to engaging hundreds of volunteers for trail restoration, to monitoring the effectiveness of invasive species treatments, the collaborative has worked to extend our capacity every step of the way.”
A wide variety of partners are collaborating with the U.S. Forest Service including the Foothills Land Conservancy, MountainTrue, National Wild Turkey Foundation, NC Forest Service, NC State Parks, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, Southern Environmental Law Center, The Nature Conservancy, The Wilderness Society, Western Carolina University, and Wild South.
For more information on the Grandfather Restoration Project, see http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/nfcnc/GFProject.