Guest Post by Jake Lubera, Grandfather Acting District Ranger
There is a national recognition that insects and disease have had a long devastating effect on the American Landscape. Today we think of insects such as Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Southern Pine Beetle, and Emerald Ash Borer and the changes in ecosystems that they have and may still cause. This type of change of ecosystems due to insect and disease has been seen before. Just look back to the days of Chestnut Blight and the changes to the landscape that caused. The difference between then and now is that working in a collaborative process we have tools in place to react quicker to manage the infestations and make the landscape more resilient to outbreaks in the future.
Using the authorities provided by the 2014 Farm Bill amendment to the Health Forest Restoration Act of 2003, The Grandfather Ranger District has successfully worked hand in hand with local partners to identify the Crawley Branch area in Caldwell County as potentially susceptible to Southern Pine Beetle with the goal of making them more resilient to future outbreaks. This completed planning effort has been done in conjunction with the ongoing restoration efforts associated with the Grandfather CFLR project. By using this collaborative framework established under the project and the best available science we will be able to be proactive rather than reactive to devastating insects and disease.
The authorities derived from the 2014 Farm Bill are some of the tools we have to deal with insects and disease. With that in mind let’s play pretend. Say you are wanting to hire a contractor to build a house. Two different contractors meet with you to discuss your design. Both are very knowledgeable of the designs. The difference is one has a tool box consisting of a just a hammer and a screw driver. The other has a full complement of tools, each with a specific use for a specific need. Just as if you were building a house, you are more likely to succeed in restoration and resiliency efforts if you have multiple tools to get the work done. Farm Bill authorities, Stewardship contracting, and Good Neighbor Authorities are just some more very useful tool we have to meet a specific need on the landscape. It is when we use all the tools in the tool box, including collaboration with the public, that we can manage the landscape to allow it to be resilient to future outbreaks.
View the Crawley Branch project documents here.