HRI is excited to congratulate a team of 41 North Carolina Forest Service employees who earned the NCDA&CS Excellence in Team Accomplishment Award for a large project to treat hemlocks across multiple state lands. The team consisted of NC Forest Service staff from the Forest Health branch, NCFS District 2, the BRIDGE program, as well as two NC State Parks staff. The award was presented in an online ceremony in July 2020.

In 2018 and 2019, the team treated 41,620 hemlocks on 1636 acres at Rendezvous Mountain and Tuttle State Educational Forests, the Kings Creek Research Station, and South Mountain State Park. The total number of trees treated by this team is nearly double the number of trees treated by all parties in the previous three fiscal years combined.

Rendezvous is where the majority of the 41,620 hemlocks were treated.

NCFS forest health specialist Brian Heath and fmr. HRI outreach associate Sara deFosset in 2017

HRI has partnered with the NC Forest Service since our inception, operating both collaboratively and in parallel, to protect hemlocks on state lands across North Carolina, including close coordination with staff from the Forest Health branch and BRIDGE program. We are honored to work with them and are proud to see this particular project recognized as an enormous feat of hemlock conservation.

The award was recently featured on the NCDA&CS blog, where Brandon Herring writes:

“Two people with big ideas for getting the job done was not enough,” said [Rob] Trickel, the head of the Forest Health branch of the N.C. Forest Service. “Forest Health West knew to be successful, they would need to be very organized to have equipment ready, to create procedures for safety and to get the right personnel and keep them motivated.”

“It was steep and rough. We’re talking about 40 to 50 pounds of chemical in each pack, plus tools and equipment, and it was cold. Where hemlocks grow, the wind blows,” said Craig Lawing, a forest health specialist and one of the two team leaders. “We all did our job and did what we were supposed to do from the commissioner on down. No one person made this job work.”

The actual treatment often involved trekking over mountainous terrain and up to three miles into a forest. Getting imprisoned workers through the BRIDGE program (pictured right) was the key to a quick-moving, successful project.

Read the entire post on the NCDA&CS website.

The following 41 employees were honored with the Excellence in Team Accomplishment Award:

  • Forest Health West team leaders: Brian Heath and Craig Lawing.
  • N.C. Forest Service District 2 employees: Gunner Marcus, Joe Shoupe, Michael Crouse, Michael Greene, David Huffman, Mickie Parsons, Hunter Cook, Anthony Farmer, Russell Choate, Bobby Blackwell, Bob Myers, Chris Moss, David Goss, Corey Wilmoth, Joe Franklin, Derek Arny, Larry Lane, James Hall, Robert Ross, Ken Burns, Brandon Keener and Nathan Gatlin, plus the District 2 supervisor Duane Truslow.
  • BRIDGE employees who worked with young inmate teams: Trevor Gilliam, Phillip Raby, Jason Frye, David Greathouse, Trevor Buchanan, Jake Martin, Jason Noble, Paul Mace and Jeff Lowman, plus the now-retired BRIDGE camp director Travis Ruff.
  • State parks: Mark Sain and Lee Ann Angle.
  • Other N.C. Forest Health employees James Slye, Wayne Langston and Kelly Oten, plus the statewide Forest Health Program Head Rob Trickel, who nominated everyone for the award.

A huge thank you to everyone who made this project possible! We commend you for all your hard work and effort and look forward to watching the trees’ recovery in the years to come.