Appalachian-Cumberland Meeting Addresses State and National Forest Partners’ Research Needs

Mushrooms, flowers, leaves, bark, and roots are just a few of the many non-timber forest products permitted for harvest on national forests. Photo by Jim Chamberlain, USFS.

In early March the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station hosted its first joint State Line and Green Line Meeting.

Approximately 60 state and national forest partners attended the two-day meeting held in Johnson City, Tennessee to learn about a variety of SRS research topics relevant to their specific needs and the Appalachian-Cumberland region.

SRS station director Rob Doudrick, regional liaison Stephanie Laseter, and other SRS leaders and scientists were joined by state foresters and their key staff from the Kentucky Division of Forestry, North Carolina Forest Service, Tennessee Division of Forestry, and Virginia Department of Forestry.

“When we started planning the meeting and building the agenda, we knew we wanted to continue the conversation with state foresters around demonstration forests that began last fall in Asheville, North Carolina,” says Doudrick. “We came to agreement quickly because they had given much thought to what was needed, and it matched perfectly with the silviculture training course developed by our scientists in the Center for Forest Restoration and Management.”

Each of the state foresters gave an overview of their state forests and shared their plans and needs for demonstrations throughout their states. These needs included training of foresters in various types of silvicultural practices to demonstrate to their landowners.

“We don’t want something that will never be used,” said James Wright, state forester, Kentucky Division of Forestry. “We want something that will work and that we will have the capacity and funds to maintain.”

Details on the meeting and previous engagements with State partners can be found here.

“Where is oak regeneration a concern in the Appalachians?” is one question research forester Tara Keyser addressed during her presentation on hardwood management challenges in the southern Appalachians. Photo by Tara Keyser, USFS.

The second day of the meeting was dedicated to helping national forests partners learn about the SRS research and science that’s available to help address their ecosystem restoration and remote sensing needs.

National forest partners attending the meeting represented the same states and included forest supervisors, line officers, district rangers, and other personnel from the Cherokee National Forest, the Daniel Boone National Forest, the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, and the National Forests in North Carolina.

“Prior to the meeting, I worked with representatives from each forest to develop a list of research topics that would be of the greatest interest to everyone and that would meet the individual needs of each forest,” says Laseter, a biological scientist and the meeting organizer.

National forests partners gave brief introductions of their forests, highlighting recent successes, current and future needs, areas of concern, and opportunities for collaboration.

SRS researchers were able to cover a wide range of topics in a short amount of time. They shared brief, high-level presentations on the following topics:

  •  Value of early successional forests – Katie Greenberg, SRS research ecologist, and Troy Morris, integrated resources staff officer, GW-Jeff NF
  • Hardwood forest management challenges – Tara Keyser, SRS research forester, and Dave Casey, district ranger, NFsNC
  • Sustainable harvest of non-timber forest products – Jim Chamberlain, SRS research forest products technologist, and Mark Healy, fire and natural resources staff officer, Cherokee NF
  • Shortleaf pine restoration – Tara Keyser, SRS research forester, and Mary Yonce, district ranger, GW-Jeff NF
  • Stream restoration – Andy Dolloff, SRS research fisheries biologist, and Lee Thornhill, Ecosystem, Fire and Forest staff officer, NFsNC
  • What pressing forest monitoring questions can remote sensing help address? – Steve Norman, SRS research ecologist, and Bill Christie, SRS biological scientist
  • Regional products: LiDAR and other geospatial tools – Emrys Treasure, resource information management director, Amy Nathanson, regional planning analyst, and Mark Healy, fire and natural resources staff officer, Cherokee NF

Steve Norman shares details about one remote sensing product.

“The meeting concluded after identifying what’s next,” explains Laseter. “Some requests were received for follow up discussions on remote sensing products and communication tools. We hope to address these and other topics through a series of virtual webinars that we will share soon!”

For additional information, email Stephanie Laseter at

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