North Carolina Division of Forest Resources of the Department of Environment, Health, & Natural Resources
In 1921, The North Carolina General Assembly authorized counties to cooperate financially with the State in forest fire control. It was, however, not until 1928 that matching state and federal funds became sufficient to finance fire protection on a large scale. In 1921, there were 4 cooperating counties in the state. By 1932, the number had climbed to 44, and by 1958, 89 of the 100 counties were able to participate. Today the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources of the Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources operates in all 100 counties of the state.
In 1949, Rowan County entered into a cooperative agreement with the state. The first County Forester, John C. Baskerville, started work on 1 August 1949. His job was to handle forest fires, advise and assist landowners in tree planting, thinning, diseases and insects, and to carry out an educational program for the schools and other organizations in both Rowan and Iredell Counties.
Fire Lookout Towers
In the Spring of 1952, a fire lookout tower was built on Dunn's Mountain. It consisted of a platform built between two trees with another tree cut and used for the third leg. Later on, windows and a roof were added. In September 1954, a 48 foot wooden tower was built on Young's Mountain. In 1955, the 73 foot High Rock Lookout Tower was built at Healing Springs in Davidson County. This tower covers the eastern half of Rowan County. In 1957, the tree tower on Dunn's Mountain was replaced by a steel tower. Young's Mountain Tower was removed in June of 1968; and Dunn's Mountain in 1971.
1951 to 1960
There were 4 foresters who held the position of Rowan-Iredell Forester: M. N. Shaw, Jr., John D. Hill, R. G. Carney, and Ronald A. Brown. In 1955, the office was moved to Statesville for a brief period of time. On 14 November 1960, the first full-time Rowan County Forester, Charles D. Woodard, Jr. was hired.
1961 to 1971
Rowan County was a training ground for new foresters before they moved on to other positions. From 1961 to 1971 7 more foresters held the position: Lloyd B. Snider, Dale A. Sutton, John U. Perry, Obie R. Willingham, Robert C. Felton, Ed Goforth, and William T. Crain. Most of them stayed in the county for only 1 year.
1971 to 1980
In 1971, the position was changed from County Forester to County Forest Ranger. On 1 July 1971, L. Wayne Alexander became the first Rowan County Forest Ranger.
1980 to 2003
In January 1980 the county added the position of Assistant County Forest Ranger. Rodney J. Kreiser became Assistant County Forest Ranger.
2003 to 2006
Forest Ranger Wayne Alexander announced his retirement in March 2003. After Alexander's retirement Assistant Ranger Rodney Kreiser was promoted to Rowan County Forest Ranger. As a result of Kreiser's promotion in August 2003 Cheryl A. Mecimore became Assistant County Forest Ranger for Rowan County.
2006 to 2009
Assistant County Forest Ranger Cheryl Mecimore resigned in 2006 and was replaced by David K. Poole on May 30, 2006 as Assistant County Forest Ranger. David was born and raised in Troy, NC in Montgomery County. David graduated from Montgomery Community College in the spring of 2005 and was employed with the NC Forest Service in Mecklenburg County in August 2005 where he worked until accepting the position in Rowan County in May 2006.
2009 to 2017
September 2009 Rodney J. Kreiser retired after nearly 30 years of service to the citizens of Rowan County. Assistant Ranger David K. Poole was promoted to County Forest Ranger. As a result of Poole's promotion in January 2010 Jason Walker became Assistant County Forest Ranger for Rowan County. Jason was born and raised in Southmont, NC in Davidson County. Beginning in 2004 he attend Montgomery Community College for Forest Management Technology. During this time he worked for multiple companies in the forest management industry. He received his Associate Degree in 2007 and was soon hired by the NC forest service in Granville County as an Assistant County Ranger. He worked there until January 2010 when he accepted the Assistant County Ranger position in Rowan County.
2017 to Present
May 2017 County Forest Ranger Poole was promoted to Forest Ranger for NC District 10. In July 2017 Assistant Ranger Jason Walker was promoted to County Forest Ranger. As a result of Walker's promotion in October 2017 Tony Blackburn was named Assistant County Forest Ranger. Blackburn has a diverse background that most recently includes employment with Forestland Consultants an operation where he worked in all areas of forest management ranging from inspecting logging operations for water quality, to assisting with inventory, maintaining, and reforestation of privately owned property across the region.