District 11 wins N.C. Forest Service’s Moreland Gueth Water Quality Award

Photo of John Howard and Scott Bissette

District 11 Forester John Howard receives the Moreland Gueth Water Quality Award from Assistant Commissioner Scott Bissette.

The N.C. Forest Service’s District 11 team is the 2012 recipient of the Moreland Gueth Water Quality Award. The award is given in honor of Moreland Gueth, who had a dedicated and commonsense approach to working with people and protecting water quality. Gueth was the Forest Service’s statewide water quality and wetlands staff forester, a position he held from 1996 to 2005 before becoming the agency’s training officer. Gueth died unexpectedly in 2008.

In the last 11 years, Hillsborough-based District 11 has consistently ranked first or second statewide in total number of water quality accomplishments. Many of the district’s water quality inspections have occurred on sites that were being actively harvested.  In fact, over the past three years, 65 to 68 percent of the initial inspections done on harvest sites have been while the site was active.

Jennifer Roach, assistant district forester, said it’s not just the people in the district office that make this program work. “It takes everyone in the district, at every job level, to contribute and do their part in making sure that a consistent program is carried out,” she said.

The District 11 team consists of staff working in Alamance, Caswell, Durham, Granville, Orange, Person, Vance and Wake counties.

District 11 personnel not only have to inspect sites for compliance with N.C. Forest Practices Guidelines, but they also must be knowledgeable of the N.C. Division of Water Quality Riparian Buffer Rules, Roach said. Because all of the district’s counties except one are split by multiple watersheds, the staff must understand the differences in rules and regulations for the various watersheds. “The Neuse River, Tar-Pamlico River and Jordan Lake Watershed Buffer Rules all fall within District 11,” she said.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that the district is a mix of both urban and rural counties. Urban and suburban sprawl brings many questions and concerns about forest management and its impact on local water resources.

Personnel have formed the necessary working relationships with local government staff to help answer the questions that occur with forestry activities. Often, they also find they must be able to explain the details and limitations of the Right to Practice Forestry legislation in addition to the FPGs, Riparian Buffer Rules and best management practices to fully educate landowners about their rights regarding forest harvesting and water quality regulations.

Like other districts in NCFS, the staff in District 11 works with a variety of landowners and community partners to help protect or enhance local water resources. Staff members have participated in local meetings of the Falls Lake Watershed and the Jordan Lake Buffer rules as well as in meetings with DWQ. All of these rules have a significant impact on the way forest management is carried out within District 11.

Personnel also work with local erosion control boards, county soil and water groups, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, local land conservation trusts and other community watch groups. Over the past four years, district personnel have worked closely with land conservation trusts to find stewardship and forest management opportunities that will help protect water quality in the Upper Neuse Watershed. In the past seven years, they have assisted local erosion control and soil and water groups to enhance or protect water quality on local government properties such as schools, parks and county farms. The staff has also assisted local governments in the use of best management practices that protect water quality.

Staff members often work one on one with landowners, community groups, loggers, timber buyers and consulting foresters, explaining the use of guidelines and best management practices and expressing any concerns or issues that need to be addressed.

The district also provided daylong training to loggers, timber buyers and consulting foresters on the Jordan Lake Buffer Rules when they were instituted; participated in public community outreach meetings for Orange Water and Sewer Authority; assisted with three pro-logger trainings; and performed two trainings on best management practices for forest industry members working in District 11. The district also continues to assist with annual training of local university and college students.

“District personnel work with loggers to improve use of best management practices, place an emphasis on inspecting forest harvesting operations while active, educate landowners so that water quality is not impacted during forest management activities, respond to the concerns of our citizens, and assist community partners in meeting their water quality program goals,” Roach said. “The personnel in District 11 work together as a dynamic team that takes pride in promoting a proactive approach to protecting water quality.”

The N.C. Forest Service (NCFS) is proud to announce that their District 11 team (Hillsborough) is the 2012 recipient of the Moreland Gueth Water Quality Award. The award is given in honor of Moreland Gueth, who had a dedicated and commonsense approach to working with people and protecting water quality. This included his role as the Forest Service’s statewide Water Quality and Wetlands Staff Forester, a position he served in for nine years (1996 to 2005) before becoming the agency’s training officer until his unexpected death in 2008.

In the last eleven years, District 11 has consistently ranked in first or second place statewide with regards to the total number of water quality accomplishments. Many of their water quality inspections have occurred on sites that were being actively harvested. In fact, over the past three years, 65-68 percent of the initial inspections done on harvest sites have been while the site was active; which includes 154 active inspections out of 236 initial harvest inspections in 2009-10, an increase in 2010-11 to 209 out of 307, and another increase in the number of active inspections in 2011-12 to 246 out of 370.

According to Jennifer Roach, Assistant District Forester, it’s not just the people in the district’s Hillsborough office that make this program work. “It takes everyone in the district, at every job level, to contribute and do their part in making sure that a consistent program is carried out across the district.”

The District 11 team consists of Alamance, Orange, Caswell, Person, Durham, Vance, Granville, and Wake counties.

District 11 personnel not only have to inspect sites for compliance with the N.C. Forest Practices Guidelines (FPGs), but they must also be knowledgeable of the N.C. Division of Water Quality (DWQ) Riparian Buffer Rules, according to Roach. She explains that “all but one county in the district is split by multiple watersheds, which means all the personnel in the district must also be aware of the watersheds they are in and be able to understand the differences in the rules and regulations for the different areas. The Neuse River, Tar-Pamlico River, and Jordan Lake Watershed Buffer Rules all fall within District 11.”

Adding to the challenge is the fact that the district is a mix of both urban and rural counties. Urban and suburban sprawl and development brings many questions and concerns about forest management and its impact on local water resources.

Personnel have formed the necessary working relationships with local government staff to help answer the questions that occur with forestry activities. Often, they also find they must be able to explain the details and limitations of the Right to Practice Forestry legislation in addition to the FPGs, DWQ Riparian Buffer Rules, and Best Management Practices (BMPs) in order to fully educate a landowner on their rights regarding forest harvesting and water quality regulations.

Like other districts in NCFS, personnel in District 11 work with a variety of landowners and community partners to help protect or enhance the local water resources.  Personnel have participated in local meetings of the Falls Lake Watershed and the Jordan Lake Buffer rules as well as participated in meetings held with DWQ. All of these rules have a significant impact on the way forest management is carried out within District 11. They also work with local erosion control boards, County Soil and Water groups, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, local Land Conservation Trusts and other community watch groups.  Over the past 4 years, District personnel have worked closely with the Land Conservation Trusts in the Upper Neuse Watershed to find stewardship and forest management opportunities that will help protect water quality in the Upper Neuse Watershed.  In the past 7 years, they have assisted local erosion control and soil and water groups to enhance or protect water quality on local government properties like schools, parks, and county farms.  Personnel have also assisted local government personnel in the use of Best Management Practices that protect water quality.

District personnel often work one on one with landowners, community groups, loggers, timber buyers, and consulting foresters, which offers D11 personnel the opportunity to explain the use of FPG’s and BMPS’ as well as express some concerns or issues that need to be addressed.  In the past 7 years, personnel participated, annually, in county Forest Landowner meetings on how to protect water quality when carrying out forest management goals.  These meetings typically reach 50-100 people annually. They’ve also provided day long training to loggers, timber buyers, and consulting foresters on the Jordan Lake Buffer Rules when they were instituted; participated in public community outreach meetings for Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA); assisted with three Pro-logger trainings; performed two BMP trainings for forest industry personnel working in District 11; and continue to assist with annual training of local university and college students.

“District personnel work with loggers to improve use of best management practices, place an emphasis on inspecting forest harvesting operations while active, educate landowners so that water quality is not impacted during forest management activities, respond to the concerns of our citizens, and assist community partners in meeting their water quality program goals. The personnel in District 11 work together as a dynamic team that takes pride in promoting a pro-active approach to protecting water quality.” Roach said

District personnel have also assisted the N.C. Forest Service Non-Point Source (NPS) Branch with several projects. District 11 remains engaged in the BMP Effectiveness Monitoring Watershed Study in Durham and Orange Counties and assists by installing firelines, moving site-preparation equipment, and participating during classroom and field instruction of forestry students. The District has also been an integral part of the Stream Crossing BMP Study by initiating correspondence with interested landowners and the NPS Branch, as well as providing equipment and personnel time during the installation of four stream crossing study sites. Three of these stream crossing study sites have been established on Duke Forest to evaluate the effectiveness of BMPs for bridgemat skidder crossings and one long-term study site has been established on OWASA property to evaluate the effectiveness of forest access road ford crossing BMPs.

The N.C. Forest Service congratulates the District 11 Team for their dedicated service and emphasis in the agency’s Water Quality Program.

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