Kristin Bail, forest supervisor of the U.S. Forest Service National Forests in North Carolina, today (Nov. 14) announced that a coalition of conservation organizations helped to restore hundreds of acres across the Grandfather Ranger District by treating invasive plants and performing other work over the past six months.

Partners conducted the work as part of the Grandfather Restoration Project, a 10-year project designed to restore 40,000 acres of the Grandfather Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest. The project is restoring fire-adapted forests by enhancing conditions for a variety of native plants and wildlife, controlling non-native species and protecting hemlocks against hemlock woolly adelgids.

Partners completed the following tasks in the first six months of the Grandfather Restoration Project:

• Hazardous fuels were reduced on close to 4,600 acres of the Grandfather Ranger District through prescribed burning;

• Approximately 2,600 hemlock trees (spread across 130 acres) were saved from hemlock woolly adelgids;

• 750 acres were treated to remove invasive land and water species;

• Approximately 200 acres of forests were thinned or received other forest management treatments to promote the growth of native tree species such as yellow pine, white oak, red oak, hickory, black oak and chestnut oak that are often out-competed by species such as yellow poplar; and,

• Two miles of hiking trails were maintained.

Grandfather Restoration Project partners include Southern Blue Ridge Fire Learning Network, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, N.C. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Wild South, the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, Trout Unlimited, The Southern Forest Network, Land-of-Sky Regional Council, Western North Carolina Alliance, National Wild Turkey Federation, The Wilderness Society, Appalachian Design, Friends of Wilson Creek, and The Foothills Conservancy.

“One of the unique aspects of this project is the large number of partners who are involved,” said Bail. “I am grateful for the support our collaborators have provided as part of this important initiative.”

The Grandfather Restoration Project was one of 10 new projects announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in February 2012, under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program. The Secretary announced an initial funding of $605,000 for the first year of the project.

Restoring fire to the parts of the Grandfather Ranger District is a primary goal of the project. Prescribed burns are being considered for the Linville Gorge and Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River areas. By implementing prescribed fires, the Forest Service and partners will promote the growth of native, fire-adapted and fire-dependent plants, including threatened and endangered species.

READ MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT HERE.