So the past couple of weeks I have been on the go; meetings, burning, and festivals!
On 2/21 we had our quarterly Cape Fear Arch meeting. The Cape Fear Arch is a conservation collaboration centered around the Cape Fear region. The Arch name comes from a geologic formation that stretches from Cape Lookout to Cape Romain which also happens to encompass the entire southeast coastal plain. The Arch collaboration is a partnership of organizations and individuals interested in protecting the interesting ecological features of this region. Our meeting focus this time was general business, but we typically center our meetings around a theme and have our meetings at a place that represents that theme. We incorporate a field trip so the meeting is not just in a room somewhere and we learn while at the same time share information with our colleagues. The Cape Fear Arch was started in 2006 and since then has signed on over 30 partners. We have collaborated on protection efforts and outreach events and continue to work toward the conservation of our unique region.
Later that same week I visited Asheville for the NC Exotic Pest Plant Council (EPPC)annual meeting. The two-day agenda focused on invasive efforts around the State. It was a great networking event but discussing invasives can sometimes be a downer as there are so many plants invading our natural ecosystems. One of particular interest to our region is laurel wilt disease, which is not a plant rather a fungus. Laurel wilt is spread to several different Lauraceae species including red bay, sweet bay, sassafras, and several species of spicebush (including pondspice, a rare endemic to the southeast coastal plain).
The disease is spread by an Asian ambrosia beetle that came here in a ship on a wood pallet to the Port of Savanna. The beetle makes its home in Lauraceae species and a fungus on the legs of the beetle gets into the trees xylem and phloem system and kills the tree. Since its arrival to the US laurel wilt disease has spread from Savanna south to Florida and north through Georgia, South Carolina and most recently to southeastern North Carolina. Here is a link to the Forest Service distribution map of laurel wilt. It’s a fast spreading disease that is very resource intensive to fight and it kills almost every host tree in its path.
On a much lighter note we have had some really great burns in the past couple of weeks meeting all of our ecological goals. Follow along here to see where we have been burning! Also don’t forget about the Fire in the Lakes festival March 24th in Boiling Spring Lakes. We are so excited about this year’s festival! There will be live bluegrass by Possum Creek, a live performance by the Creative Flame Company, and lots of great food including Ms. Cheesy, Umami, and Trolly Stop! Not to mention a demonstration controlled burn conducted by the NC Forest Service, so cool! Hope to see you there!