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Forests

North Carolina: Meet Josh Kelly

“It’s more than scenery. The Grandfather CFLR project will improve water quality, hunting and fishing opportunities, and neighboring towns will be safer from wildfires that burn out of control.” Josh Kelly

Josh Kelly loves the Southern Blue Ridge — spending both his workdays and his down time roaming its forests.

As Public Lands Field Biologist with the Western North Carolina Alliance, a grassroots environmental group working in 23 western counties, he is looking down the road to a forest future that is healthier, prettier, and more protective of nearby communities.

“In a few decades, the Grandfather District can once again be a place where fire is playing its natural role, helping promote forest health,” he explains. “People will see a forest with more variety — an open understory with more flowering plants, with grasses and young oaks that will attract wildlife, such as turkey and deer.”

The benefits will not stop at the forest edge, Kelly says.

“While forest health is important, the project will also be good for people in surrounding communities,” he continues. “It’s more than scenery. The Grandfather Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration project will improve water quality, hunting and fishing opportunities, and neighboring towns will also be safer from wildfires that burn out of control.”

Kelly believes the CFLR project will be successful because a diverse group of people and organizations are working together.

“That adds a lot of strength to the project. It is just like in an ecosystem where multiple species each fill a role. With this partnership, multiple organizations each fill a role. This gives the project a lot of energy and resilience.”

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