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Duke Energy and Harris Lake County Park honored for longleaf pine restoration efforts

The N.C. Forest Service joined others from the N.C. Longleaf Coalition to jointly recognize Duke Energy and Harris Lake County Park as part of the N.C. Longleaf Honor Roll. This partnership was honored for their efforts to manage longleaf pine with prescribed fire on 60-acres within the 684-acre public park, owned by Duke Energy and leased to Wake County Parks and Recreation.

The N.C. Longleaf Honor Roll was created by the N.C. Longleaf Coalition to recognize landowners who are working toward longleaf restoration while balancing all the values of the forest – producing wood products and wildlife habitat, and offering recreational opportunities. To be eligible for the Longleaf Honor Roll, Harris Lake County Park staff demonstrated active forest management, including following the recommendations in its forest management plan written by Derek Ware, forester with Duke Energy. Most notable are prescribed fire efforts, having conducted prescribed burns every two to three years since the longleaf pine was planted. A native plant restoration effort, supported by Duke Energy, is also underway on-site.

Duke Energy and Harris Lake County were nominated for the Longleaf Honor Roll by N.C. Forest Service personnel: District 11 Forester Jennifer Roach, Wake County Ranger Chris Frey, and Forest Fire Equipment Operator Jeff Ulrick. The N.C. Forest Service has collaborated with the Harris Lake longleaf restoration project since its early stages, providing prescribed fire assistance, forest management recommendations, and participating in the Longleaf Festival. "Prescribed fire is important for the forest and reduces risk of wildfire. When I started with the North Carolina Forest Service, my first fire was at Harris Lake and I have been involved in every prescribed burn here since. This group has worked hard to make it happen year after year," Ulrick said.

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