Letter from Forest Supervisor regarding NC National Guard use of DuPont plant site

October 2, 2015

Dear Friends of DuPont Forest,

I understand that the news story from WLOS that came out earlier this week has raised some questions and concerns about the NC National Guard using the DuPont plant site for a variety of uses.  I wanted to give you my perspective in hopes that it would clear up some questions.

For the last fifteen years there has been continual interest from multiple parties (the State, DuPont Corporation, the FODF) in having the ‘doughnut hole’ become part of DuPont State Recreational Forest.  Most people are in support of this but support alone is not enough. From my limited understanding of the process and discussions to date, there are numerous obstacles to address in terms of environmental regulations and assessing public risk before anything happens that will affect DSRF and its users.

As far as the NC National Guard is concerned, they do have an interest in being a partner with the NC Forest Service in planning for uses of the DuPont plant site if it does come under the control of the State.  To my knowledge, everything is preliminary and nothing is decided on the plans for the property. The NC National Guard has expressed that their intent is to expand training capabilities in public safety and emergency missions, as well as civil engineering projects that benefit the citizens of the State.

The WLOS story appears to have been generated from interest in the State’s new budget, which became law just over two weeks ago.  There is funding in the current State budget to begin the planning of a joint facility for the Department of Agriculture and the NC National Guard but not for any construction.

I agree with most that this property becoming part of DSRF would be a benefit to our users and help with some of the pressures of our popularity and visitation.
From my point of view, the NC National Guard would be a partner that will work with us to maximize the site for the State’s benefit, not limit it.  They have diverse resources that could be put to use, with the new loop road at High Falls Access Area being a recent example.

From working with them on that project, I was impressed that they took public safety and the public’s perception of their work as seriously as we do at DSRF.  If you read some of my past FODF newsletter articles, I gave some examples of what the NC National Guard does outside of military operations. In my brief time with them and their leadership, I came away with a better and more informed opinion on working with the Guard.
At a State-wide level, the NC National Guard (as part of the Department of Public Safety) and the NC Forest Service have been emergency response partners for decades, working together in communities impacted by wildfire, flooding, and storm damage.  I hope it doesn’t come to be but follow the news over the next few days as Hurricane Joaquin approaches North Carolina; I’m sure you see these agencies at work, either planning for or implementing natural disaster relief.

I want to assure the FODF that we will continue to act in the best interest of DSRF’s users and our citizens at large. I will continue to keep the FODF leadership informed on any progress on this and all fronts.
Please send any concerns or questions to the FODF Board as you see fit and I’ll endeavor to address them in a timely manner.

I appreciate the opportunity to express these thoughts.

Sincerely.

Jason I. Guidry

Forest Supervisor
NC Registered Forester #1751
DuPont State Recreational Forest
North Carolina Forest Service
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Wild Creatures in DuPont – Black Bear, Ravens, and the rare Lichen Grasshopper

Black Bears

The population of black bears (Ursus americanus) in our state has increased tenfold over the last 30 years, and the current population is estimated to be about 20,000 ani-mals. Not only are they growing in numbers, they are also getting larger in size and producing higher numbers of cubs. It is believed that this is due to increased food availability.

The largest black bear ever taken anywhere was an 880-pound giant from Craven County, North Carolina in 1998. Bears weighing in at over 700 pounds are now being taken every year, though bears of that size were a rarity not too many years ago.

Black bears are sighted within the DSRF frequent-ly. FODF member, Nancy Kay recently had a sow and three cubs cross the trail in front of her as she was horse-back riding on Hickory Mountain Road. A sow and three cubs were subsequently sighted on the edge of Rocky Ridge Trail. Here it does not get cold enough or for long enough to drive our bears into real hibernation. During winter they will sleep more but they also continue to forage for food.

Lichen Grasshopper

The large rock outcrops Lichen Grasshoperwith the moss pads on Big Rock, Cedar Rock and other trails in DSRF are home to an attractive grasshopper known as the Lichen Grasshopper or the Rock-loving Grasshopper. Trimerotropis saxatilis is one of only two species in its genus that inhabit North Carolina. The Natural Heritage Program lists it in the category of “significantly rare,” and it is found only on the rock outcrops.

This non-migratory species overwinters as eggs that hatch in the spring and produce adults in late spring. The adults persist until frost. They are known to feed on li-chens and moss. Coloration is variable but tends to match the rocks where they live.

If you walk among the moss pads on the rock outcrops you might scare one up. They typically fly off only a short ways and land back on the rock. The one pictured here flew off at least 15 times before it tired and was successfully netted.

Ravens

Bird authorities consider the raven (Corvus corax) to be one of the most intelligent birds in North America, and we are lucky to have them here. They live in all of the western states and across almost all of Canada and Alaska. Here in the eastern United States, they inhabit only a narRavensrow band of territory encompass-ing the Appalachian Mountains.

With a wingspan of up to 53 inches they are almost twice the size of crows and have a thick neck, shaggy throat feathers, and a massive beak. They are entirely black, right down to their legs, eyes and beak. Their voices are incredibly varied from low deep baritone croaks to high bell-like twanging notes.

After rebaiting my game camera sites, ravens are usually the first birds to arrive, suggesting that they actively patrol areas where they have previously found food.

High-interest Critter Update

The tagged turkey vulture reported in the July issue of this newsletter was seen almost daily from March 16 until May 14 when it stopped coming to the site of the camera trap bait. On July 7 this bird made a one-day return to dine with other vul-tures and then went back into hiding. It returned again on Au-gust 3, 13, 15 and 17 but has not been seen since. The USDA taggers said that no one has reported seeing it during its time away from here.

And Blondie the coyote (also featured in the July issue) was seen on June 11 and then disappeared until she reappeared be-fore the cameras again on August 9 and 19. During her absence it was thought that Blondie (assumed to be a female) was per-haps staying in a den with pups and was depending on her life-time mate to bring home the bacon. Recently, however, a smaller version of a blonde coyote was caught on camera with another classically-colored coyote by her side. Was this a thin-ner Blondie or one of her relatives? Your guess is as good as mine.


 

Article and Photos by Alan Cameron

See more photographs and more articles in the October Friends of DuPont Forest Newletter

New Suggested Routes Trail Guide for DuPont Available

DuPont State Forested Suggested Routes

Click to open more sample pages in PDF form

Friends of DuPont Forest has published a new 18-page booklet detailing suggested trail routes around the Forest.   Because of the crowded trails around the primary waterfalls (High Falls, Triple Falls, and Hooker Falls), this guide focuses on other routes that avoid these high traffic areas and reveal other interesting features of the Forest.

The Guide is $10 plus $1.25 shipping, and proceeds help support Friends of DuPont Forest in its critical mission of maintaining and improving the 90 miles of multi-use trails.





View  sample pages from the Guide.

Note: Guides to the popular primary waterfalls can be obtained at the Aleen Steinberg Visitors Center.

Summer Friends of DuPont Forest Newsletter

Check out the Friends of DuPont Forest newsletter to learn more about what’s going on in the Forest.

  • Prescribed Burning in the Forest
  • A Walk on the Wild Side (Beaver & Wild Turkey)
  • Unprecedented Turnout for Blue Ghosts
  • The history of the Airstrip in the Forest, Part 2
  • FODF elects new Board members & officers
  • May Tour de Falls Succesful
  • Volunteer Appreciation
  • and more

Visit Newsletters Page.

Support the Forest by joining FODF and receiving the newsletter in your mailbox (paper or email)!

FODF Launches Business Membership Program

DuPont State Recreational Forest contributes a great deal to our local economy, drawing many thousands of visitors to the area and encouraging them to stay, eat, shop, and spend at our local businesses. Until recently, there hasn’t been a program in place to welcome members of the business community into the Friends of DuPont Forest family. We now have an FODF Business Membership Program that allows business owners to contribute to the success of the Forest which, in turn, brings so many customers to their doors.

The new FODF Business Membership Program offers benefits such as exposure on the newly revamped FODF website and within the FODF newsletter. Businesses also receive a window decal as a display of their support. Perhaps the greatest benefit of all, though, is the knowledge that businesses are being responsible members of the local community and supporting a valuable local resource.

Please check out the recently revised FODF website (www.dupontforest.com), particularly the Local Goods and Services page for a list of the local businesses that are supporting FODF and the Forest.

If you are a business owner and would like to become a business member of Friends of DuPont Forest, use the Local Goods and Services webpage to link to the membership application. Also, feel free to contact Business Membership Chair, Valerie Naylor at fodfbizmembership@dupontforest.com or 828-775-7334 for more information.

Newest Business Members

Black Bear Business Member

  • Deer Ridge Property Management

Blue Ghost Business Members

  • Shoal Creek LLC
  • Valley View Cabins
DuPont State Recreational Forest Trail Map by FODF

New DuPont GPS Trail Map for Smartphones

Do you have a smartphone?  Play in DuPont State Recreational Forest? Check out the new digital map from Friends of DuPont Forest  that allows you to track your hikes and rides inside the Forest without using a cell phone signal.  The map uses the free Avenza app and costs only $4.99.  Best of all, proceeds go back into projects to support the Forest.

Find download instructions here.

“Listed Animal Species” within DuPont

“Listed Animal Species” Take the Spotlight

North Carolina’s “listed animal species” took center stage in the Aleen Steinberg Center classroom on July 31st. Species that make this list are at risk of extinction. The slide show and lecture played to a full house as Alan Cameron, a volunteer with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission since 2005, introduced us to thirteen “listed animal species” including: one snake, one lizard, one turtle, one rodent, four bats, and five salamanders.

Alan, an intelligence analyst for the National Security Agency for 37 years, has spent thousands of hours in DuPont State Recreational Forest carefully exploring streambeds, peering in rock crevices, and looking under fallen trees to find animal species that most of us have never seen.

The crowd attending Alan’s talk learned that the yellow and black Timber Rattler’s eyes get clouded over by a lubricant before it sheds its skin. After bearing three or four live babies during a three-month gestation period, the female rattler chooses warm rocks and direct sunlight to raise her brood. Surprisingly, Copperheads and Rattlesnakes often raise their broods within the same den.

We learned that wild turkeys, hawks and foxes are natural enemies of Timber Rattlers. Man is also a predator, catching and using them for their skins and rattles . . . and, sometimes, for expressing faith in an Almighty by snake handlers in churches.

A small gray or brown lizard, the Coal Skink can be identified by four light stripes down its back, two on each side. Females lay clutches of several eggs in rotten logs or in the damp and humid soil near stream edges.

Seeds, berries, insects, worms and snails comprise the diet of the tiny, four-inch Bog Turtle whose yellow patches on each side of its head are an identifying feature. They are hard to find, spending most of their time buried in mud or under water. Fewer than 100 have been documented in North Carolina.

Wood Rats can be distinguished by their large black eyes, brownish fur and white feet. The female Wood Rat produces two to three litters a year, with two to three young per litter. Nuts, fruits, and seeds comprise their diet, and like other rodents, they must constantly gnaw on tough fibers to wear down their incisors.

Also known as “pack rats” or “trade rats,” these solitary rodents construct large nests of sticks, twigs, leaves, along with any found, shiny objects, such as bottle caps, coins, and pieces of aluminum foil tucked in here and there. Hunted raptors, fox and bobcats, Wood Rats are an important part of the food chain.

Alan taught us that bats aren’t blind; they can all see to one degree or another. They are good parents that reproduce slowly, and the only bats that drink blood live in Latin America. We also learned that some species eat as many as 6,000 mosquitoes a night, less than 1% of bats carry rabies and they won’t tangle in your hair if caught in the house. If confronting a bat indoors, just open a door or window and the bat will find its way out. DuPont’s listed bat species are the Indiana Bat, the Eastern Small-Footed Bat, Rafinesque’s Big Eared Bat, and the Little Brown Bat.

White Nosed Syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease that was introduced from Europe in 2006, affects bats that hibernate in caves. The fungus makes bats’ noses itch, causing them to awaken from hibernation too early. As a result, they are unable to find enough insects to eat and they starve. WNS has been found in Transylvania, Henderson and Rutherford Counties. Unfortunately, a cure remains elusive.

Among the 66 salamander species found in North Carolina, the Hellbender, Mole, Green, Four-Toed and Mudpuppy Salamanders have been officially listed as either “Threatened’” or “Endangered’”. They are being monitored by Cameron, who is known in some circles as the “Salamander Whisperer.”

Salamanders are a diverse group of amphibians. They hide in streams, in and under rocks and rotting logs, in burrows, in the trees, and in the leaf litter catching earthworms, flies, spiders, grasshoppers, beetles and even other salamanders for food.

Green SalamanderCurrently Cameron is monitoring 25 Green Salamander egg nests in DuPont. The eggs, laid mostly in mid-June, hatch in late August/early September. The young emerge from the egg looking like miniature adults, and are guarded by the mother for several more days before she finally goes off to feed and then begin her winter hibernation. ”

Cameron introduced a number of non-threatened critters found in DuPont to those in attendance. This included information on the Golden Eagle Project, a program to estimate the distribution of these magnificent birds. Photos of a “staked deer” and the animals and birds it attracted captured the attention of the audience. For the uninitiated, a “staked deer” is road kill that is used by volunteers with the Wildlife Resources Commission for scientific studies. The deer is staked out in a clearing within a remote area. The size of the clearing used is critical- too large and the eagles will not descend. They like small clearings of maybe 100 feet on each side. When Golden Eagles do arrive they usually sit in a tall tree for a while checking out the situation below them before coming to earth.

In January and February of this year the Wildlife Resource Commission established nine sites in these western mountains. Golden Eagles were found in seven of them. A motion-triggered camera was placed near the bait to record activity. The eight deer that were staked out brought in bobcats, raccoons, coyotes, ravens, crows, turkey vultures, black vultures, and red tailed hawks.

Though Golden Eagles have recently been sighted in the vicinity of DuPont Forest, none showed up for the free lunch. Maybe next year.

– Article by Aleen Steinberg

 

 

 

Jason Guidry - DuPont State Recreational Forest Supervisor

Forest Supervisor’s Report October 2014

I recently passed my one‐year mark as Forest Supervisor, taking the helm from David Brown. David’s accomplishments are too numerous to recount here but under his direction the foundation was established for how the Forest is managed, protected, and promoted. I have been challenged, as never before in my career, to maintain David’s high level of achievement while learning to operate one the most popular State Forests in the country. I am grateful for what he has left for me to manage and build upon.. . .

Continue reading:  Forest Supervisor Report – October 2014

 

Volunteer Appreciation – Peg and Dan Bresnahan

There are so many wonderful people who give of their time and talent to make DuPont Forest the jewel that it is. When I think of our amazing volunteers, two people who always come to mind for me are Peg and Dan Bresnahan. I recently had the chance to ask the following questions of this dynamic duo:

What are your volunteer activities, past and present?

Both of us have worked the May and October Tour de Falls events both days, all day for ten years.  We have orchestrated litter pick-up in the Forest four to five Saturday mornings a year for the past ten years. We have volunteered at Canoe Day every year since its inception. In the beginning, we even hauled our grill from our house to the Forest. One year we dropped it getting it onto Dan’s truck! We have been parking lot greeters. Peg was on the FODF board for six years, Dan for four.  Peg served as membership chair for a several years.

What fuels your desire to volunteer in the Forest?

We both love to be outside and share our experience with those who don’t have the opportunities we have living next door to such a wondrous place.

What is your favorite way to recreate in the Forest?

We enjoy hiking.

Do you have a favorite trail? If so, which one and why is it your favorite?

Dan’s favorite trails are Big Rock and Mine Mountain. They are high line trails with wonderful views.

If you could be granted one wish for the forest, what would it be?

We would like fewer trails, preferring to see large tracts of land left completely alone for the wildlife. We believe the Forest is best served when treated with respect, where people can enjoy what the flora and fauna have to offer. Education is a big part of it. Everyone needs to learn how important our responsibility is to this precious acreage. We need to slow down and live with the natural world, recognize our connection to it. There is no need to crash through the Forest for thrills. Plenty of places are available for those experiences, and so few left for the act of simple appreciation