Thursday, July 17, 2014

July Minutes of the WCNRC Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on July 17, 2014, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  Present were: Dave Casey, LaVerne Matheson, James Burnett, John Creed, Mike Henshaw, and Allison Cochran.  The following topics were discussed:
  • The council approved $200 to support the Winston County 4-H Habitat Evaluation Team that attended the state competition in Auburn in June.  The junior team, consisting of four youth, placed second in the competition.
  • Dave Casey, District Ranger, made a presentation about the Resource Allocation Committe (RAC) that is forming to allow counties in Alabama to take advantage of Title II funds from the Forest Service.  Winston County is one of three counties that have requested title II funds, and the state must have a RAC to allocate those funds.  The council discussed several individuals that might be recruited to serve on the RAC to represent Winston County.
  • John Creed gave a history of funds that have come from the Forest Service to counties in the past. 
  • Allison said that the FAWN program could still be held at the Houston Recreation Area this year.  The restrooms and other facilities are in working order.
  • The next liaison panel meeting will probably be held in October.  A date for the meeting is still pending.
  • LaVerne said that the next Alabama Water Management Meeting would be held in August.  He also reported on efforts to monitor water quality on Smith Lake.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bankhead National Forest Houston Day Use Area Open for July Fourth

The U.S. Forest Service announced that the Houston Day Use Area on the Bankhead National Forest will be open in time for the July 4th holiday.  Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the swimming and picnic areas as well as the boat ramp beginning this holiday weekend.  According to Bankhead District Ranger Dave Casey, Bankhead National Forest employees and local contractors have been working to restore water, repair buildings and clean grounds for the upcoming holiday.  The swimming and picnic areas will be open through Labor Day weekend.  The boat ramp will remain open as long as water depths allow safe boat launching.

Camping loops at Houston Recreation Area remain closed, but campers will find recreation opportunities at numerous other sites including Clear Creek and Corinth Recreation Areas that will remain fully operational for the upcoming July 4th weekend.

The National Forests in Alabama encourage visitors to check its web site at in advance of visits or contact the Bankhead District Office at 205-489-5111.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Minutes of June Council Meeting

The WCNRC met at the U. S. Forest Service Office on June 19, 2014. Present at the meeting were Carl Godsey, LaVerne Matheson, Mike Henshaw, Chris Wright, Andy Baril, Byron Tuggle, and Jeremy McDonald.  The following items were discussed:
  • Successful Kid's Fishing Derby held on June 7th.
  • Rain Barrel Program in Haleyville
  • Junior Ranger Program at Payne Demo Area - Jeremy said 114 attended.
  • County FFA Forestry Judging held at Payne Demonstration Area
  • Invasive plant spraying program continues - Jeremy
  • Possible educational programs to provide PLM credits.  Topics such as markets, forest economics, BMP's, carbon credits, and the TREASURE Forest Program are possibilities for program topics.  Loggers have until end of December to get PLM points.  WCNRC tentatively planning a PLM program at the end of October for area loggers and landowners.
  • FAWN program possible relocation to Corinth Recreation Area.  
  • Shortleaf Initiative, NRCS
  • Signs on Smith Lake to be posted to educate about fines for littering - LaVerne.
  • Alabama Power Lake survey reveals that there is 580 miles of shoreline on Smith Lake.
  • John Ledbetter with Alabama Power has retired - LaVerne.
  • Hatchet Creek Festival - Andy
  • Failing Septic Tank Issues - LaVerne
Mike Henshaw, Secretary WCNRC

Monday, June 9, 2014

Kids Get Hooked On Fishing

The Bankhead National Forest held the 22nd annual “Kids Fishing Derby” on Saturday, June 7 in celebration of National Fishing and Boating Week and Alabama Free Fishing Day. The Forest Service, which hosts the yearly event to help interest young people in wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation, stocked a pond with about 350 pounds of catfish and invited area youngsters to try their luck.  This year’s event also included a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act and National Trails Day.  Children and parents learned about hiking and camping in the Sipsey Wilderness Area and the “Leave No Trace” philosophy.  Highlights of this year’s Derby included a surprise visit from Smokey Bear, the National Wild Turkey Federation’s “Jakes Take Aim” Shooting Booth and art projects like creating fish petroglyphs.  All children received a free membership to the NWTF’s Jakes club and a fishing derby t-shirt complements of the Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association.

Over 100 children (with accompanying adults) from surrounding counties came to the Black Warrior Work Center on the Bankhead National Forest to compete for trophies in three age categories. Contestants fished for approximately 1 ½ hours and the winners in each age group were decided by measuring the longest fish caught by each individual.

The largest fish overall was caught by Xander Bell of Double Springs.

In the 5-6 year old age group, Braden Kachelman of Florence took the first place trophy.  Alyvia McElwaney of Trinity captured second place.

Abbie Wells of Trinity won the first place trophy in the 7 - 9 year old group.  Bryant Addison of Trinity won the second place trophy.

In the 10 – 12 year old category, Jade Wilson of Phil Campbell took the first place trophy and Eric Wilson of Phil Campbell took the second place trophy. 

In addition to the fishing competition, a casting contest was held in which Ellie Grace Gilliland of Moulton won in the 5 – 6 year old division; John Cade Stone of Double Springs won in the 7 – 9 year old division; and Hunter Fields of Double Springs won the 10 – 12 year old division.  All three received a new rod and reel and tackle box as their prize. 

The Derby concluded with drawing for door prizes, awarding of trophies to contest winners and a hotdog lunch.  This year’s event was funded by a grant to the Winston County Natural Resources Council from the Winston County Commission, a grant from the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the US Forest Service.  Sponsors of the 2014 Kids Fishing Derby include the Double Springs Lions Club, the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Sipsey Strutters Moulton Chapter and Bankhead Beards and Spurs Winston County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association, Winston County Natural Resource Council, Wild South, and the Bankhead National Forest. 

A big “THANK YOU” from Smokey Bear to everyone who continue to help make the Kids Fishing Derby a great success.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sawfly Spells Trouble for Pine Trees in Northwest Alabama

Loblolly pine sawflies.  photo by Karl Byrd, AFC.
Alabama Forestry Commission News Release dated May 28, 2014:
During the last few weeks, there have been numerous reports from Northwest Alabama about dying pine trees.
Most of the visible damage is occurring on reasonably healthy, mature loblolly pines, growing in well-managed stands. According to officials with the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC), the apparent culprits are larvae of the loblolly pine sawfly, feeding on and defoliating pine needles. With infestations reported in Colbert, Marion, Franklin, Lamar, and Fayette counties, the AFC is in the process of conducting aerial surveys of the affected counties. Infestation notices are being prepared for landowners where problems are detected, along with stand management recommendations. Although approximately 20 species of pine sawflies exist in the Southeast, the loblolly pine sawfly (Neodiprion taedae linearis) is the current aggressor. This particular species produces only one generation per year. Larvae attack in the spring, mainly from April to May, and host trees can be loblolly or shortleaf pines. A mature larva is approximately 1.25 inches long with a chocolate-brown colored head. The body is dull green with heavy black stripes along each side and lighter stripes below them. During an outbreak, most pines will not succumb to the infestation. The best recommendation is to wait and see if the infested pines rebound from the attack. Most will recover from this partial defoliation and start to grow lush green needles again by the summer. Because the loblolly pine sawfly is a native pest, population outbreaks are generally sporadic, localized, and widespread, significantly influenced by favorable climatic conditions and the presence of control biological agents. Natural predators such as birds, small mammals, and other parasitic organisms will prey on it, eventually reducing the population. Pathogens, viruses, and even starvation will also reduce the population. The use of insecticides is another option for controlling this defoliating pest, although cost prohibitive for large acreage. Insecticides are generally only used on infested pines in residential or commercial areas where aesthetics are an issue. If you suspect that your pine stand is under attack by the loblolly pine sawfly, please contact your local AFC office for further information or visit The mission of the Alabama Forestry Commission is to protect and sustain Alabama’s forest resources using professionally applied stewardship principals and education, ensuring that the state’s forests contribute to abundant timber and wildlife, clean air and water, and a healthy economy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Youth Fishing Derby

The annual Youth Fishing Derby will be held on Bankhead National Forest on Saturday, June 7.  Information on this year's Derby may be found at the following link, Fishing Derby Flyer.  The Winston County Natural Resources Council is one of the many sponsors of this community event.  Come celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week at the Bankhead Youth Fishing Derby!  Please call 205-489-5111 for more information.