Francisco landowners certified in forest stewardship


Pictured, from left, are Ben Melton, Stokes Assistant County Ranger, Josh Francis, Stokes Smoke Chaser, Ruth Ann and Kendall Harden, Landowners, and Jonathan Young, Stokes County Ranger.


The North Carolina Forest Service has awarded Kendall and Ruth Ann Harden with the Forest Stewardship Certification for their outstanding stewardship accomplishments on their property.

Forest Stewardship is a cooperative effort between landowners and many agencies that involves planning and management of our natural resources in an effort to prevent the loss of habitat and to promote sustainability.

The Harden farm has been certified in Forest Stewardship for their outstanding resource management and for the tremendous improvements they have done to wildlife habitat, soil and water protection, timber management, recreation, and the aesthetics of their property.

Forest stewardship is something that extends beyond the landowners property boundary and improves our local communities as well the forests of North Carolina for future generations.

The Hardens purchased their 31 acre farm in the Francisco community of Stokes County in 2006 and began the process of remodeling the home and buildings on the property. In 2008 the Hardens, in cooperation with the NC Forest Service, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the Stokes Soil and Water Conservation district completed a detailed written Forest Stewardship Plan.

This began the process of many improvements the Hardens have made to their property to improve wildlife habitat. In 2009 they began the process of converting the seven acres of grazed fescue fields over to native grasses including Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Indiangrass, as other native species and wildflower mixes.

These native grasses are a more sustainable habitat for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. These prairie grasses are maintained each year with a combination of prescribed burning or light discing, and periodically mowed for hay by a local farmer.

In 2010 the Hardens began harvesting the over mature Virginia Pine timber from the property and replanting the areas themselves in native Shortleaf Pine seedlings.

Over the years, the Hardens have completed numerous other resource management practices including planting more than 1500 flowering and fruiting trees and plants throughout the property and establishing approximately four acres of field and road edge feathering to improve wildlife habitat.

They have established an extensive walking trail system throughout the property so they can enjoy wildlife viewing and to help in educational opportunities with school groups and interested landowners. Numerous best management practices have been installed on the property to protect the soil and water resources and the Hardens have worked hard to control non-native invasive plant species including privet, multiflora rose, and tree of heaven.

In the spring of 2015 they finished the reconstruction of the half acre pond in order to improve fish habitat and to eliminate stream bank erosion below the dam.

Landowners like the Hardens who strive to be good stewards of our natural resources are vital to sustaining the forest resources in North Carolina.

Their accomplishments are beneficial to all of us.

Landowners interested in the forest stewardship program should contact the local NC Forest Service office at (336) 593-8154 or visit our website at www.ncforestservice.gov.

Pictured, from left, are Ben Melton, Stokes Assistant County Ranger, Josh Francis, Stokes Smoke Chaser, Ruth Ann and Kendall Harden, Landowners, and Jonathan Young, Stokes County Ranger.
http://thestokesnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Harden-Stewardship.jpgPictured, from left, are Ben Melton, Stokes Assistant County Ranger, Josh Francis, Stokes Smoke Chaser, Ruth Ann and Kendall Harden, Landowners, and Jonathan Young, Stokes County Ranger.
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