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