Ashley Melvin, the Delaware Forest Service’s education specialist who directs its successful Smokey Bear fire prevention program, received a Gold Smokey Award in Ohio recently at an annual meeting of state foresters. The award was presented to the Mid-Atlantic Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact’s education committee, of which Delaware is a member. The compact is comprised of seven states including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
In the world of wildfire prevention, there is no greater honor than to receive a Smokey Bear award, especially the national Gold Smokey award. These special awards are reserved for people or organizations that provide sustained, outstanding service, with significant program impact, in the wildfire prevention arena. Honorees demonstrate innovation, creativity, commitment and passion for wildfire prevention.
For the first time, the Delaware Forest Service (DFS) will issue turkey hunting permits through a separate lottery for the 2019 spring season. Previously, statewide permits were available only through DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. The 2019 Delaware turkey hunting season runs for four consecutive weeks from Saturday, April 13 to Saturday, May 11, with a special youth and non-ambulatory disabled hunter day scheduled for Saturday, April 6. State forest turkey permits will be issued for one of four season segments: A (4/13-4/19), B (4/20-4/26), C (4/27-5/3), or D (5/4-5/11).
The Delaware Forest Service is sending a 20-person wildfire crew to Colorado’s Rocky Mountain region as more uncontained large fires in the West has increased the demand for trained firefighters. The National Fire Preparedness Level was increased to 3 on a 5-point scale on June 29, indicating that wildfire activity is occurring in multiple geographic areas and mobilization of resources through national agencies is moderate to heavy.
The crew mobilized on Tuesday, July 3 at Blackbird State Forest in Smyrna, Delaware and will travel to Denver from Philadelphia on July 4 for positioning in the Rocky Mountain Geographic Area, which has reported 5 new fires and currently has 6 uncontained large fires. Nationally, 66 fires are currently burning a total of 578,424 acres. As of July 3, a total of 277 wildfire crews are currently deployed across all regions of the U.S. and wildfire activity is expected to increase.
In late-June, Delaware’s forests get an annual “physical” or “check-up” – just after spring’s “leaf-out” blankets the state in a wave of green color. Just as people should visit the doctor to be screened for potential diseases, trees are examined with a variety of tools to hopefully spot minor issues before they turn into major ones.
Armed with a digital camera, GPS technology, and a tablet equipped with specialized software and satellite data, forest health specialist Bill Seybold boards a small plane for a sky-high view of the First State. The annual aerial survey is specifically designed to detect potential threats that can only be seen from the air. Fortunately, early results from the 2018 aerial forest survey indicate no major outbreaks of tree diseases or insect pests.
A partnership with the Delaware State Police and the Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police is helping the Delaware Forest Service reopen its historic picnic pavilion at Redden State Forest that was closed in early 2017 due to persistent illegal activity. The parking lot and rest area – popular with hikers and horseback riders – now features bright lighting, 24-hour video surveillance, and regular patrols by both marked and undercover law enforcement personnel. Along with these enhanced security measures, new signage reminds visitors that the site is closed from dusk to dawn.