Award-winning stewards of their land

Sep. 30, 2013 @ 07:49 PM

Five years ago, Norman and Sara Manning bought 114 acres of land off Bobbitt Road in southern Vance County. Recently, they received a Forest Stewardship Award for the way they have managed the property.

“The trees were here, but they were not managed,” Norman said. “They were so thick you couldn’t walk.”

Part of the area had been clear-cut years before, he said. Afterward, it became badly overgrown.

The couple established a road system and did what he called “pre-commercial thinning.”

They received financial help with an Environmental Quality Incentives Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In recognition of their efforts Brad Manring, a ranger with the N.C. Forest Service, presented them a certificate and two signs declaring the property a “Stewardship Forest.”

Manring said the award is made to acknowledge the efforts of property owners to manage their property in a way that enhances it, whatever the owner’s goals, whether it is for timber, aesthetics, recreation or grazing.

Norman Manning, who has a veterinarian practice in Wake Forest, said they looked for rural property in Wake County and Franklin County before homing in on Vance County. The property they found was “a diamond in the rough,” he said.

They area is rich with wildlife. Norman said they have turkeys, deer and quail.

“Deer are all over the place,” he said.

Two mallard ducks inhabited the pond until the Mannings saw two babies bring the family constellation to four.

Sara added, “We’re thrilled about our quail.”

One species they are not thrilled about is nutria. The beaver-like rodent could damage their dam by burrowing into it. Norman has shot one and their dog killed another.

Norman Manning started Wake Forest Animal Hospital in 1991. The practice now includes three full-time veterinarians and over a dozen staff members, including Sara as a veterinary assistant.

The Mannings have two grown sons. They are in the process of building a house on the land and hope to move from Wake Forest in the near future. In the meantime, they are living in temporary quarters on the property.

Brad Manring said the Forest Service makes the stewardship awards to recognize people for good land management, but also to encourage other property owners to participate in the program. The program is voluntary. It starts with a plan tailored to the landowner’s goals for the property. Activities are undertaken to enhance the forest for wildlife, soil and water quality, timber production, recreational opportunities and natural beauty.

Stewardship practices do not need to be expensive. The agency makes recommendations and the landowner decides which activities to pursue.


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Learn more

To learn more about the Forest Stewardship Program visit the N.C. Forest Service online at and following links under “Managing Your Forest” or contact Manring at (252) 432-4270.