Thursday, November 19, 2015

Minutes of November Meeting

Photo by Allison Cochran.
The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs on November 19, 2015.  The following members were present:  Mike Henshaw, Allison Cochran, John Creed, Matt Brock, and James Burnett.  The following items were discussed:

  • Tripp Gaskins is in the process of moving to South Carolina.  The council hopes his move goes well, and we appreciate all his help in the past on many council projects.
  • Karen Pulliam is retiring at the end of the year.  Allison said that position might be moved to the supervisors office in Montgomery.
  • Matt said that there have been many staff changes at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  Matt will be changing duties to be part of a technical assistance team for landowners.  There will be five team members statewide.  Matt's area will be Northwest Alabama, but it is not strictly limited to certain counties.  His office will be located in the Walker County NRCS office in Jasper.  Matt will work on wildlife management plans for landowners, submit wildlife disease samples, and conduct white-tailed deer reproductive studies.  Kevin Pugh will take over as manager of the Black Warrior WMA and the Sam Murphy WMA. 
  • Proposals will be submitted to the Winston County Commission for several council projects including FAWN.  There is uncertainty about the status of the Resource Allocation Committee, but we hope that will be worked out soon.
  • Water quality monitoring workshops will be held in Curry on January 15-16.  For more information, see this link. 
  • Big Tree Wildfire response discussion.  Allison said the fire was contained, and now has been declared "out".  Allison said it was a learning experience for everyone.  For example, having outside fire fighting teams come in to the Bankhead, partnering with outside organizations, and having an informational meeting about the fire: these were all new events for many involved.  She said that the final estimate of the size of the fire was 2003 acres.  She said that damage was light and there were some benefits.  The fire fighters tried to have a light touch since they were in the Sipsey Wilderness, and they have gone back in to cover some of the bare soil exposed by fire lines.  Further leaf fall should also help cover exposed soil.
  • Corinth and Clear Creek are closed for the season, but maintenance and repairs will continue during the off season.  Allison said they are preparing to build handicap accessible courtesy piers at some of the boat ramps.  
  • John said he has seen bald eagles in the Houston area, and Allison said that the Forest Service would be conducting a bald eagle survey in January.
  • James said there was no damage reported from the recent storms.
  • Matt reported on the early gun hunt on the Black Warrior WMA.  He said that only five deer were checked in.  Hunter participation was heavy with 500 permits issued on both days, but they had a low success rate.  He said that it was successful in promoting the use of public lands for hunting, and that this hunt may be expanded next year to include other areas of the Bankhead and/or other areas.
  • Allison said that high numbers of deer have been seen on the annual spotlight survey on the Bankhead.
There will be no December meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council.

Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

November Council Meeting

Beekeeping and Forest Pollinators Station at FAWN
Photo by Johnna Franks. 
The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, November 19, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Water Testing Workshops to Be Held in January near Curry

Water Watch volunteer prepares bacteriological sample.

Water testing workshops will be offered on January 15-16, 2016, near Curry, at the Smith Lake Civic Association Building.  The Friday, January 15, training will be for Water Chemistry Training, and the Saturday, January 16, training will focus on Bacteriological Water Testing.  You can register online by clicking on the link below.

These training classes will be taught by Alabama Water Watch.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Informational Meeting about the Big Tree Wildfire to be held at Winston County High School

Aerial image of Big Tree Wildfire (USFS)
The U. S. Forest Service will hold an informational meeting about the Big Tree Wildfire at 10:00 a.m, on Saturday, October 24, 2015, in the Winston County High School Parking Lot.  This meeting will be open to the public and to the news media.  Anyone wanting to find out more about the Big Tree Wildfire in the Sipsey Wilderness of the Bankhead National Forest is welcome to attend.

The Forest Service Website for the Big Tree Wildfire is located at this link and it is frequently updated with the latest conditions.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Big Tree Wildfire Information Web Page

The Forest Service has developed a web page to post updates about the wildfire in the wilderness.

 Please check this link to get the latest on the fire.

Update on Sipsey Wilderness Fire