News and Events
Most of the 19 southern experimental forests were founded in the 1930s or 1940s. Over the past five years, they have become something new: the SRS Experimental Forest Network. “Each experimental forest is a regional asset,” says Stephanie Laseter, a USDA Forest Service scientist and network co-lead. Johnny Boggs is also a co-lead.
On November 3, about forty people from the USDA Forest Service and The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) gathered virtually. It was the second biennial plan of work meeting between TACF and SRS. Since the 1990s, the two organizations have worked together on American chestnut (Castanea dentata) restoration. In 2017 and in 2019, they committed to a Biennial Plan of Work that strengthens the partnership.
Laricobius nigrinus is a small beetle that eats an even smaller bug – the hemlock woolly adelgid, or HWA. Since 2003, Laricobius has been used to help control HWA. But the beetle, which is native to western North America, is only active during the fall, winter and early spring.
To increase the prescribed “burn window” for reaching restoration goals, land managers are now burning during winter (the dormant season) as well as spring and summer (the growing season) and fall. Management goals often include fuel reduction, oak regeneration, habitat improvement for target wildlife species, and forest restoration to conditions once created by Native Americans and Euro-American settlers.
Nineteen USDA Forest Service experimental forests grace the South. Each was established to solve a specific natural resource problem, and some are nearing a century old. Pressing natural resource problems at that time included naval pitch pine stores and reforesting vast cutover lands.
Acorns aren’t only for squirrels. They serve as a food source for a variety of wildlife, such as mice, deer, and turkeys. This presents somewhat of a problem for oak trees – acorn producers – because their future depends on acorns surviving and germinating to become the next generation.
Meet Cathryn (Katie) H. Greenberg, a research ecologist with the Upland Hardwood Ecology and Management unit located at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest in Asheville, North Carolina. Her research focuses on how disturbances, both natural and management-based, affect animal communities and food resources for wildlife in forests.
Amphibians and reptiles tend to be most active during the spring and summer, when it’s warmer. A recent USDA Forest Service study compared how herpetofauna respond to prescribed fires conducted during the growing season – when vegetation is actively growing – versus those in dormant season months.
“Oaks don’t seem to be regenerating at the rate they are declining and finally dying,” observes Katie Greenberg, research ecologist at Bent Creek Experimental Forest.
The U.S. Forest Service had put its station at Bent Creek in 1925 because the area had been deemed one of the best examples of an Appalachian mixed hardwood forest.
A rock protruding through the grass in the lawn at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest was the beginning of a part time, amateur archaeology “dig” for Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) employee, Linda Benz.
A recent conference titled “Measure Locally, Respond Globally” brought 35 journalists to Asheville, North Carolina, to learn more about what researchers and entrepreneurs are doing to address climate change — and may have also sparked a new nickname for the city of Asheville.
The eastern United States' mightiest tree, the oak, is in decline, possibly due to over-harvesting or climate change. Whatever the cause, scientists are trying to find ways to reverse this decline. Watch U.S. Forest Service researchers use fire to give young oaks room to grow in the North Carolina mountains.
Margaret Stoughton graduated from Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa, in 1930 with a bachelor’s degree in forestry. In June 1930, she joined the staff of the Appalachian Forest Experiment Station in Asheville, North Carolina, becoming the first woman forester in the Forest Service. Her name changed when she married Charles A. Abell, also a Station forester.
After World War I, when the Forest Service sought to establish an experimental station on a site that represented the diversity of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, the Bent Creek area of western North Carolina seemed the logical choice.