Forest Service Unveils Management Plan for Uwharrie National Forest

Release Date: May 11, 2012  

Contact(s): Stevin Westcott, (828) 257-4215

TROY, N.C. – The U.S. Forest Service today unveiled the revised Uwharrie National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (the Plan) that promotes forest restoration and protects waterways. The Plan is available online at:

"The science-based Plan is the result of collaboration with a broad base of public and private stakeholders and partners,” said Uwharrie District Ranger Deborah Walker. “The revised Plan outlines our management practices to restore native species like the longleaf pine tree and protect lakes and streams, while ensuring the overall health and sustainability of the forest for our children and their grandchildren.”

The Plan guides management of the 50,814-acre national forest for the next 15 years. The Plan works to fulfill the Forest Service’s mission of managing national forests for multiple uses. The previous Plan was signed in 1986.

The major themes of the Plan are: restoring the forest to a more natural ecological condition; better management of cultural resources; and providing outstanding and sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities, with excellent trails and facilities.

Highlights of the Plan include:

  • Restoring 100 acres of longleaf pine trees annually. The longleaf pine tree is native to the piedmont region of North Carolina. These restored acres will add to the Uwharrie National Forest’s 3,000 acres of existing longleaf pine.
  • Restoring 200 acres of oak-hickory forests annually.
  • Restoring longleaf pine and oak-hickory forests will result in loblolly pine harvests that support the local economy.
  • Improving diversity and habitats for open woodland species such as the endangered Schweinitz’s sunflower through increased use of prescribed fire. Prescribed fire is also critical for restoration and maintenance of longleaf pine woodlands. 
  • Requiring equestrians and mountain bikers to stay on designated trails, after an initial collaborative trail-system design phase. Off-highway vehicles are currently restricted to designated trails. This will promote forest health by reducing erosion and sedimentation in streams as well as the impacts to rare species and archeological sites.
  • Supporting growth of the local tourism sector through trail system improvements.
  • Sustaining stream systems and protecting water quality and aquatic biodiversity, including a goal to reintroduce endangered aquatic species. New standards for trails and an objective for road closures would reduce the potential for stream sedimentation from these sources.
  • Recognizing 34 unique or rare botanical, geological, archeological and/or recreational sites for special management of their rare attributes.
  • Mitigating vulnerability to a changing climate by restoring resilient native ecosystems including longleaf pine and oak-hickory forests, and reduce existing stresses like non-native species.  

“The Plan was developed using guidelines of the 1982 Planning Rule; however, it follows the spirit of the new Planning Rule announced in March by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack,” said Ranger Walker. “Both the new Planning Rule and the revised Plan promote forest restoration, maintenance of plant and animal diversity, conservation of resources and protection of water quality – and at the same time allow for an array of recreational opportunities.”

The Uwharrie National Forest was first purchased by the federal government in 1931 during the Great Depression. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed these federal lands in Montgomery, Randolph, and Davidson Counties the Uwharrie National Forest. It is one of the most recently formed in the National Forest System. Though small, the Uwharrie provides a variety of recreation opportunities and natural resources, including clean rivers and streams, diverse vegetation for scenery, wildlife habitat and wood products.