FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 6, 2007
Experts List for Media’s Drought Coverage
(Columbia, SC) --With the recent decision by the state’s Drought Response Committee to change most South Carolina counties’ drought status to Severe, the Forestry Commission is making available its staff for interviews. Media are welcome to call the contacts directly or through the Public Information Office (803-896-8820). In addition to these Columbia-based personnel, agency personnel throughout the state are prepared to help local media with print, radio and television interviews.
Forest Protection Chief Darryl Jones has issued this statement which may be used freely in whole or in part. It addresses the drought’s effects on wildfire threat, forest health and pine beetle infestation.
The prolonged dry weather has negatively impacted forest resources in the state. In July and August, the SC Forestry Commission responded to 518 wildfires that burned more than 2,730 acres. Wildfire occurrence in July and August is typically very low. The drought has caused every fire to burn more intensely and we have seen some extreme fire behavior. These fires have required more personnel and equipment to control and the high temperatures have made it much harder on our personnel. Without widespread rainfall, the fall wildfire season, which typically occurs in October and November, has the potential to be very active.
The long-term rainfall deficit has put forests across the state under stress, raising concerns that forest pests, including the southern pine beetle, will be more active in the next few months. Some trees are already dropping their leaves in response to the drought, and foresters are predicting a short color change on hardwoods this fall, followed by a rapid leaf drop.
SCFC contacts and areas of expertise:
Laurie Reid, Insect and Disease specialist
Drought’s effects on tree health, threats from opportunistic insects for stressed trees and forest land.
Liz Gilland, Urban Fforester
Drought tolerance of SC trees, tree care in hot weather, drought’s effects on tree health, consultant for county/city governments managing tree health/care on public properties
Darryl Jones, Forest Protection Chief for SC Forestry Commission also a member of the SC State Drought Response Committee
Drought effects at the state level, forest health, status of SCFC-owned state forests, effects of drought on wildlife (particularly endangered species on state lands), drought response committee news
Paul Watts, Fire Chief, SC Forestry Commission
Drought effects on wildland fire, fire threats with relation to long-term and short-term weather conditions
For more information, contact Scott Hawkins (803) 896-8820