Slow Burn: Fall Foliage Taking Its Time

Fall Color at Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Forest

One good place in North Carolina to see spectacular fall color is Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Forest in Wilkes County

No, it’s not another sign of the federal government shutdown. North Carolina’s hardwood trees are taking their time to change colors this fall because of a low-stress growing season that included plenty of moisture and mild temperatures, a North Carolina State University expert says.

“Growing conditions have been good, so trees have postponed shutting down the food factories in their leaves,” says Dr. Robert Bardon, forestry and environmental resources professor. “I expect the fall colors will arrive a little bit later than usual.”

While the federal closures mean that leaf peepers won’t be able to check National Park Service websites or use the visitor centers on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Bardon says it’s still possible to map out a spectacular fall foliage tour. “Through our state and local governments, we have access to a lot of information. We can still enjoy the colors.”

The North Carolina Forest Service is open for business, along with eight educational state forests across the state. Both are keeping their websites updated with information for visitors. Check or for the latest conditions.

Two of Bardon’s scenic picks are Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Park in Wilkes County and Merchant Mills Pond State Park in Gates County. The earliest color displays will be at high-elevation sites like Mount Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain.

“The nice thing about our state is that we have a wider window for fall colors because of our topography,” says Bardon, who leads extension programs in the College of Natural Resources. “Color moves gradually across the state from mountains to coast, giving us plenty of opportunities to enjoy the foliage.”

Yellow and orange leaves come from carotenoids, the pigments that give carrots and sweet potatoes their color. Anthocyanin provides rich reds later in the growing season as nighttime temperatures fall. Both pigments are present in leaves, but during the growing season they’re overshadowed by bright green chlorophyll, Bardon says.

Media Contacts: Dr. Robert Bardon, 919/515-5575 or
D’Lyn Ford, News Services, 919/513-4798 or

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Study Shows S.C. Forest Industry Positioned for Growth

Timber stand at sunset in South CarolinaThe forestry industry in South Carolina is positioned for significant growth in the decades ahead, according to a study conducted by nationally prominent forestry expert Dr. Robert Abt of North Carolina State University.

The goal of the new study was to develop overall wood supply projections for the entire state of South Carolina that would help identify opportunities to meet the goals of the 20/15 Project – a cooperative venture among the Forestry Commission, the SC Forestry Association and partners. The project is designed to grow the state’s forest industry to $20 billion in annual economic impact by the year 2015.

Dr Bob Abt - NC State UniversityCommissioned in August 2012, the study took nine months to complete and will be formally presented in depth to the forestry community by its author, Dr. Abt, at the SC Forestry Association annual meeting in October.

A noted specialist in regional timber markets and natural resource management, Dr. Abt teaches and conducts research at NC State’s College of Natural Resources. He received his BS from Georgia Tech, MS from the University of Tennessee and Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley.

Read the complete article in The Times and Democrat

PRTM Team + Volunteers = Quality Visitor Impact Data

phto: Bob DeckerHow do managers at the Rachel Carson and Masonboro Island Reserves learn about how visitors impact Reserve land and resources?

In the past, monitoring visitor use of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve sites presented a challenge due to limited resources and staff time.

However, a recent partnership between the Coastal Reserve and North Carolina State University focuses on training Reserve volunteers to monitor visitor use and impacts on natural environments.

An NC State PRTM Graduate student works with volunteersThis will ultimately improve staff understanding of how people use the Reserve and help tailor stewardship efforts to benefit both visitors and the Reserves’ natural resources.

Dr. Yu-Fai Leung of N C State’s Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management department is interested in studying sustainable visitor use in protected areas, and how participatory monitoring of visitor impacts can provide useful data to protected area managers.

Dr Yu-Fai Leung with graduate students and volunteersAs federal and state protected lands with significant public use for recreation and wildlife viewing, the Coastal Reserve is an ideal study area to implement Dr. Leung’s research on using volunteers to monitor visitor use and impacts.

Dr. Leung states that data collection by volunteers can “benefit the public good of these coastal resources by balancing visitor use and conservation goals.”

Read the complete article on the NC Coastal Reserve website.



Mitchell is’s New Forum Moderator

The Wagner Meters Forest Products Division recently announced that Dr. Phil Mitchell will be joining the industry expert moderator team at’s forum.

Dr. Phil MitchellDr. Mitchell has over 30 years of industrial and academic experience in wood products and lumber industries, and brings a wealth of education and practical knowledge to the forum at He currently works as part of the Wood Products Extension group in  North Carolina State University’s Department of Forest Biomaterials and holds a PhD in Forest Products. His recent focus has been value-added workshops that include topics such as lumber drying, lean implementation, CNC manufacturing processes and more. His background makes him uniquely suited to provide additional expertise to industry professionals at the forum.

Understanding the impact of moisture measurement and drying practices can be a highly technical challenge, and the forum at offers a unique opportunity for kiln personnel and other industry experts focused on drying wood, kiln optimization, grade recovery and other lumber drying related topics to meet and share expert insights. The site also offers a list of upcoming events and job opportunities for those in the kiln drying community. The forum moderators each add their expertise to the discussion to provide insight, technical recommendations and the latest in kiln drying practices, and Phil Mitchell will be a welcome addition to the group.

Learn more about the forum @ .

“Wild” 4-Hers Compete in 2013 NC WHEP Contest

2013 State 4-H WHEP Contest

On Saturday, April 24, forty-four 4-Hers descended upon Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center in Johnston County for the 2013 State WHEP Contest.  Nine counties put forth two Senior Division teams and seven Junior Division teams.  In addition, 12 individuals and nine Cloverbuds participated in the contest.  The contest consisted of wildlife identification and general wildlife knowledge, wildlife foods, aerial photo interpretation, and on-site wildlife habitat recommendations.

Alamance County WHEP Team

Alamance County WHEP Team
Front Row L-R: Nicholas Weidemann (JR Division), Emma Bailey.
Back Row L-R: Zachary Weidemann, Courtney Eckmann, Nathan Troxler.

The top scoring Senior Division team from Alamance County will have the opportunity to represent North Carolina at the National 4-H WHEP Invitational this July in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Members of the Alamance County team are Emma Bailey, Courtney Eckmann, Nathan Troxler, and Zachary Weidemann.

Christy Bailey, Kim Eckmann, and Barbara Weidemann are coaches for the team.  “We came hoping to win this year and already mapped out a route to the national contest. Of course we are going!” Courtney Eckmann stated. Henderson County placed first in the Junior Division, with Alleghany and Wilson Counties placing second and third.  Tatum Epperson, from the Henderson County Junior Team, received the state contest high score. Teams traveled from across the state to participate in the state contest at Howell Woods.  The counties represented included Alamance, Alexander, Alleghany, Catawba, Henderson, Jones, Lee, Wayne and Wilson.

About WHEP
Extension Forestry at NC State UniversityWHEP (Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program) is a 4-H program teaching youth about wildlife and the management of their habitats.  WHEP is sponsored nationally by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and International Paper.

Extension Forestry, within NC State University’s College of Natural Resources, supports and promotes the WHEP program in North Carolina.

For Further Information Contact:  
Renee Strnad
Extension Forestry
North Carolina State University