Friday, December 12, 2008

Look up for Whooping Cranes!

The endangered whooping crane migration may fly over Winston County in the next few days!
Check for more information, but the ultra-lights with cranes in tow should be stopping over in Franklin County today en route to Walker County as the next stop over site.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Council Tours Ronnie's Lumber Mill in Double Springs

Ronnie's Lumber Mill is a Double Springs sawmill that mainly cuts cross ties. Ronnie Frost is the owner of the mill and he has owned this business for 21 years. The mill employs 19 workers. He's been in the lumber business for 32 years.

The mill buys hardwood logs that are over 11" in diameter. They also cut some of the wood from the logs into wood to be used in the pallet industry, and into trailer flooring. Cross ties make up the bulk of his business and the demand for cross ties is increasing. Fuel prices have increased the profits of railroads, and the industry is in a period of growth. Ronnie mentioned a number of interesting facts about cross ties:
  • Cross ties last about 5-6 years.
  • Cross ties are discarded not because they rot, but because the spike comes loose.
  • Concrete cross ties are not likely to replace the demand for hardwood cross ties.
  • Cross ties must be air dried for 9 months before they can be installed.
The Winston County Natural Resources Council enjoyed the tour and thanks Ronnie Frost for hosting it. More photos from the tour of Ronnie's Lumber Mill are located at this site.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Alabama Water Watch Conducts Training in Addison for Winston County Livestock Producers

Alabama Water Watch recently conducted training for Winston and Cullman County livestock producers. The training focused on bacterial monitoring of water, which can reveal contamination of water in streams, lakes, wells, and ponds. Livestock producers were trained on the specifics of taking a sample of water and culturing the bacteria in the water. This simple test can expose the presence of E. coli in water even when the contamination is not obvious to the eye. E. coli contamination could be from failing septic systems, improper management of livestock, municipal waste water treatment systems, or a number of other sources. The livestock producers attending the class are now certified to take Alabama Water Watch samples and contribute to the statewide database. Additional photos of the training are available by clicking here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tour of Ronnie's Lumber Mill

Ronnie's Lumber Mill is a Double Springs sawmill specializing in furnishing wood to the cross tie industry. The Winston County Natural Resources Council will tour the mill on Thursday, November 20th at 10:00 a.m. Ronnie Frost, the owner of the sawmill, will explain the operation of the sawmill and the economic factors that affect his operation. Participants should be prepared to wear safety glasses and earplugs as we tour this working sawmill.

November Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 20th at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

The main topic of discussion will be plans for the 2009 Forest Landowner Field Day. This program is tentatively being planned for this spring at Bill and Jeanie Snoddy's TREASURE Forest near Double Springs.

After the meeting, we will tour Ronnie's Lumber Mill at 10:00 a.m.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

4-H Shooting Sports Leaders Conduct Hunter Safety Training

Certified 4-H Shooting Sports Volunteer Leaders Tim Robinson and Kenny Robinson recently conducted a Hunter Safety Training for the Addison High School Agri-Science Classes. Almost 50 seventh grade students learned about safe firearms handling in the home and in the field. In addition, students fired a shotgun at clay targets on the 4-H Shooting Sports Skeet and Trap Range. Mr. Frank Graham, Agri-Science Instructor at Addison High School, said that he hopes to bring students each year for training at the range. Jay Conway, 4-H Regional Extension Agent, conducted a portion of the training and explained the 4-H Shooting Sports program to the students.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Youth Deer Hunt - November 15, 2008

Take a kid hunting!

There is a special youth deer hunt November 15-16, 2008. The hunt is open on all private and open-permit public lands (except Wildlife Management Areas).
Check page 34 of the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Hunting & Fishing Digest for more information or visit

Hunter Education Course

A Hunter Education Course is being offered at the Bankhead National Forest office in Double Springs on November 3rd, 4th and 6th. The class runs from 5:30 PM - 9:00 PM each night. Participants must attend all nights of instruction and complete a written examination. Registration is required and is only available on-line at

An approved hunter education course is mandatory for all non-supervised hunting license buyers born on or after August 1, 1977. The course is open to anyone older than 10 years old, but is aimed at first time license buyers and beginning hunters. Parents and guardians are also welcome to attend the course with beginning hunters.

For more information call the wildlife staff at Bankhead National Forest at 205-489-5111.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October Council Meeting Minutes

The council met on October 16th, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs. Present were:

Tom Counts, Laverne Matheson, Carl Godsey, and Mike Henshaw.

Items discussed included:

  • Amendment One
  • FAWN Photos
  • FAWN Teacher Evaluations
  • Boating Safety as a possible FAWN Learning Station
  • New Extension Publication titled "In Alabama, Money Does Grow on Trees: Forestry and Its Economic Importance to Alabama."
  • Carbon Credits-Possible source of income for private landowners. James Malone with the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association would like to hold a meeting in Winston County about Carbon Credits.
  • Forestry Field Day for 2009. Discussed possible location, and topics for stations.
  • Invasive Plant Issue of the Alabama's TREASURED Forests Magazine.
  • Tom Counts announced a Hunter Education Class to be taught at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs on November 3rd, 4th, and 6th. Participants must register online at by noon October 31st.

Next meeting will be held on November 20th at the U. S. Forest Office in Double Springs at 9:00 a.m. A tour of Ronnie's Lumber Mill in Double Springs will follow the meeting.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Carla Waldrep to Portray “Aunt Jenny” at Sipsey Wilderness Hiking Club Meeting

Louisa Elisabeth Jane Bates, better known simply as “Aunt Jenny” was an important early resident of the Bankhead National Forest area. Carla Waldrep will portray the life of the Cherokee Mountain Woman at the November 4th meeting of the Sipsey Wilderness Hiking Club. Aunt Jenny was born in 1826 and lived to be 98 years old. She raised many children, served as a midwife, and was considered to be a medicine woman or herb doctor. Her husband and oldest son were killed in attacks during the Civil War, and this lead to a sequence of events that ended with the deaths of many of her children. Carla Waldrep is the Librarian of the Haleyville Public Library and a member of the Haleyville Historical Society. Her presentation will be part of the Sipsey Wilderness Hiking Club meeting in the T & F Bank's Bernice Hilton Walker Building in Double Springs on Tuesday, November 4th at 7:00 p.m. The program is free, and members of the public are welcome.

Friday, October 10, 2008

September Meeting Minutes

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on September 18, 2008, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs. Present were John Creed, Tom Counts, Mike Henshaw, Laverne Matheson, Allison Cochran, Johnna Franks, Chris Wright, and Glen Gaines.

Johnna reported that the balance in the treasury was $2,871.78. Johnna contacted several of the legislators in this area and was successful in obtaining funds for the FAWN program. Representative Jody Letson has contributed $200. Senator Roger Bedford has committed $500. The Lions Club has contributed $200, and the Farmers Federation Forestry Committee has also allocated funds. These contributions will go toward the bus transportation for the students.

A Water Quality training for livestock and poultry farmers will be offered by Alabama Water Watch. The training will focus on monitoring for bacteria from livestock. This training will be offered to Cullman and Winston County livestock producers on November 14th in Addison. The goal of the program is to help farmers in the Smith Lake watershed understand factors affecting water quality. Anyone interested in this training should contact Mike Henshaw at (205) 489-5376.

The FAWN agenda was discussed and the walk-through date set for October 1st.

The council also discussed an upcoming tour and the council's blog.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

2008 FAWN Program Held for All Winston Sixth Graders

FAWN (Forestry Awareness Week Now) is an outdoor hands-on field day for Winston County sixth graders. FAWN is a longstanding project of the Winston County Natural Resources Council. FAWN has been held annually each year for 12 years. The program is made possible by volunteers, grants, and funding from the Council. This year 348 students and 17 teachers attended FAWN, and it was organized by 32 volunteers. The purpose of FAWN is to teach the sixth graders about the wise use of our natural resources. Eight learning stations covered such topics as GPS, Forest Management, Water Quality, Wildlife Management, Forest Fire Safety, ATV Safety, Forest Soils, and Beekeeping. Each year we ask the teachers to evaluate FAWN so that we can improve the quality incrementally each year. The weather was perfect for both days of FAWN this year, and the teachers rated the event with high marks. We have created a photo album of the event.

The Council would like to thank the following groups and individuals for making the event possible, the Haleyville and Winston County School Superintendents, all the sixth grade teachers, Paul and Tiny Bowen, Charles Brannon, U. S. Forest Service, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama Forestry Commission, Double Springs Lions Club, Forest Stewardship Education Committee, Representative Jody Letson, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Northwest Alabama RC & D Council, Regional Paramedical Services, Winston County EMS, Senator Roger Bedford, Winston County Soil and Water Conservation Service, Winston County Commission, Winston County Emergency Management Agency, Winston County Farmers Federation, and the Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Council.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thanks for a great Archaeofest!

A big thank you goes out to all of the volunteers, exhibitors, participants, and the Double Springs Lions & Civitans Club, and JD Snoddy for making the 2008 Archaeofest and National Public Lands Day a huge success!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

2008 Archaeofest Held at Brushy Lake Recreation Area

Archaeofest is held in the Bankhead National Forest every two years. Jean Allan, the district archeologist, started the event in 2002. This year, about 300 people attended the event that features exhibits about Native Americans, early European settlers, and the importance of preserving archaeological sites. It is a family-friendly event that has many youth focused activities. The user fees for visitors at Brushy Lake Recreation Area were waived as part of the Public Lands Day event. Click here for a photo gallery of Archaeofest.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bear Cub's Severed Paw First Thought to be a Child's Foot

When a dog retrieved what first appeared to be a child's foot, authorities in the Russellville area were understandably upset. The foot was examined by a doctor, who confirmed that it came from a child. However, further tests revealed it was most likely from a bear cub.

We have had a number of incidents about bears in North Alabama recently. Here's some links to other articles.

Bear Killed in Athens, Alabama

Captive-born bear dumped in Bankhead National Forest

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Students at Winston County High School Start Invasive Plant Control Demonstration in Conjuction with 4-H Outdoor Classroom

Students in Mr. Byron Tuggle's Agri-Science Class are beginning a year-long demonstration to control privet on the Winston County High School Campus. With funding from the Northwest Alabama Resource Conservation and Development Council, they purchased herbicide for use in the demonstration. The demonstration is in cooperation with the Winston County Extension Office and the Winston County Natural Resources Council. The first phase of the treatment involves spraying an acre area of privet that circles around two fields and the nature trail. Students are learning about the undesirable effects of invasive alien plants and different techniques used in their control. The demonstration is also part of the school's 4-H Outdoor Classroom. More photos are here.

Double Springs Lion's Club Makes Contribution

The Double Springs Lions Club contributed $200.00 to the Winston County Natural Resources Council. The money will be used in paying for the busing of students to the FAWN Program at Houston Recreational Area.

Representative Jody Letson Allocates Funds for FAWN

Representative John "Jody" Letson allocated $200.00 to the Winston County Natural Resources Council for the 2008 FAWN Program. The monies will be used for bus transportation costs for students.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Council Tours Sherer Timber

Tim and Jessica Sherer hosted the Winston County Natural Resources Council on a tour of their operation. Sherer Timber buys timber from mostly small local loggers. They sort the logs and transport them to the appropriate mill. They also use some of the logs for their new firewood mill. This automated mill cuts and splits firewood which is then sold to individuals and re-sellers. Photos of our tour are here. Thanks to Tim and Jessica for hosting our group and serving us a delicious lunch.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Regional Forestry Field Day

The Alabama Natural Resources Council and the Alabama State Tree Farm Committee are hosting several regional forestry events and field days across the state. Everyone is invited to these field days to learn and see how to manage Alabama's forests for multiple uses.

The Regional Forestry Field Day in our area will be held on October 3, 2008 and is sponsored by Franklin and Colbert Counties. Contact Johnny Everitt at 256-383-4376 for more information and to register for the event.

September 27 is National Hunting & Fishing Day

Saturday, September 27, marks the 36th anniversary of National Hunting and Fishing Day, established by Congress in 1972 to celebrate hunters and anglers and their contribution to wildlife conservation.

Visit The Wildlife Society’s website to learn more about importance of hunting & fishing:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Archaeofest at Brushy Lake, September 27th


Brushy Lake Campground - Bankhead National Forest
Saturday, September 27th from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


Archaeology Festival programs and exhibits will be family oriented and include stone arrowhead manufacture (flint knapping) and making prehistoric pottery, as well as, stone carving, blowgun and spear thrower (atlatl) demonstrations. Brushy Campground is located on an archaeological site, so there will be a small-scale archaeological excavation to show archaeological techniques and tools of the trade. “This Land is Your Land” is an anti-looting exhibit that will explain why archaeologists don’t want non-archaeologists to dig. “Living history” performers, wearing costumes of the early Southeastern Indians, will be set up in a small “camp”. Bankhead Forest’s legendary “Aunt Jenny Brookes” will be there to tell you her story. Members of Walton’s Battery, a “living history” Civil War re-enactment unit portraying the Civil War will be there with their cannon. There will be a “hands on” archaeology box for children, beadwork, and basket making. Other features include exhibits on What We Can Learn From Bones, Indian uses of Plants, Ancient Sky Watchers, and science and archaeology. We hope drumming by the White Horse Singers, will add to the festive atmosphere. There will be programs on cave archaeology, rock art, and information on protecting the past.

Food provided by the Double Springs Lions Club will be served at noon: hotdogs, soft drinks, and dessert. Everyone interested in archaeology is invited. The event is free to the public. Please bring lawn chairs and/or a blanket.

Directions: To get to Brushy Lake Campground from Double Springs, take Hwy. 33 north 17 miles to the Pine Torch sign and turn right. Follow the paved road and turn left at the sign pointing to Brushy Lake.
From Moulton, take Hwy. 33 south 9 miles to the Pine Torch sign and turn left. Follow the paved road and turn left at the sign pointing to Brushy Lake.

For more information call: (205) 489-5111 and ask about Archaeofest.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Winston County 4-H Shooting Sports

The Winston County 4-H Shooting Sports Club recently constructed a first-class skeet range using volunteer labor, a National Rifle Association Foundation Grant, and local donations of money and materials.  The value of the facility is estimated at over $50,000.  Tim Robinson, a 4-H parent and certified 4-H Shooting Sports instructor, is very proud of the facility, which is located on his property.  Robinson noted that he and the other parents wanted a place where the 4-H’ers could practice without having to set up a temporary range each time.  He says “This range will give us a safe and convenient place where we can spend some quality training time with 4-H’ers.  “We can come out here and shoot a couple of rounds after school with no down time.  Robinson added, “We can hold fund raisers here and even a have friendly competition with a neighboring 4-H Shooting Sports Club.”  In fact, Tim and fellow instructor, Kenny Robinson, recently invited Jay Conway, 4-H Regional Extension Agent, to bring the Cullman County 4-H Shooting Sports Team for a two-county competition.  The construction of the range is the result of a three-year partnership between the Winston County 4-H Shooting Sports Volunteers, the Winston County Extension Office, the 4-H Regional Extension Agent-Jay Conway, and the National Rifle Association Foundation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bat Blitz 2008

The Bankhead National Forest hosted the SE Bat Diversity Network's annual Bat Blitz August 10-14. The Winston County Natural Resources Council assisted with the event by providing a donation and volunteer support. Seven species and 385 individual bats were captured, including the endangered Indiana and Gray bat.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Council Meeting and Tour of Sherer Timber

Please mark your calendar for Thursday, September 18th. We'll meet for our regular council meeting at 9:00 at the U. S. Forest Service Office. Then, we'll travel to Sherer Timber near Poplar Springs on Hwy. 195. Tim and Jessica Sherer will tell us about the operation and show us their new firewood mill. We'll plan to arrive at Sherer Timber at about 10:30 a.m. Jessica has offered to serve our group some homemade soup after the tour.

With rising propane, natural gas, heating oil, and electricity prices, interest in heating with wood is growing. Thanks to Tim and Jessica for hosting our group.

Friday, August 29, 2008

FAWN Dates for 2008

After consultation with the Haleyville and Winston County School Systems, we have selected the dates for the 2008 FAWN program. They are:

Thursday, October 2nd-Haleyville and Lynn

Friday, October 3rd-Addison, Arley, and Double Springs Schools

Please mark these dates, we will need everyone's assistance to put on a good program. At this point, we do not have a rain date. The rain date would likely have to be several weeks after these dates due to the schools' tight schedules.

Thanks to Johnna for working with the Winston County Schools on the date.

We will work up draft programs for the two dates and get those out soon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cogongrass Control Demonstration

Last fall, a patch of cogongrass was discovered in Winston County. Previous infestations of cogongrass had been controlled, and to our knowledge, the county was cogongrass-free. With this new discovery of cogongrass, we could no longer make that claim. As a cooperative effort, the Winston County Natural Resources Council, the Winston County Commission, and the Winston County Extension Office decided to conduct a demonstration about controlling cogongrass.

A 1% solution of imazapyr (Arsenal), was sprayed on the congongrass with a backpack sprayer on October 10, 2007. Because it was so close to winter, the we were not able to tell if the application had been effective. This spring the cogongrass did not leaf out, and in late summer, it was obvious it was dead. Here are some before and after photos.

Minutes of the August Council Meeting

The council met at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs on August 21st. The following persons were present:

Tim Malone, Mike Henshaw, John Creed, Laverne Matheson, Barry Baird, Glen Gaines, and Allison Cochran.

Allison gave a report on the Bat Blitz that was held at Camp McDowell.

  • 30 sites were trapped.
  • 385 individual bats were caught and measured.
  • Seven species were caught--Indiana Bat, Gray Bat, Evening Bat, Big Brown Bat, Northern Long-eared Bat, Eastern Pipistrelle, and the Red Bat. Both endangered species, the Gray Bats and Red Bats, were caught.
  • There were 85 participants from 18 states.
  • There was extensive media coverage on TV and print.

The FAWN program was discussed. The proposed dates are October 2-3, 2008, for the Winston County and Haleyville School Systems. Various stations were discussed. Laverne stated that the Smith Lake Advocacy would teach a stop on Water Quality if needed. Transportation cost will likely have to come from Council funds this year, because no grant funds have been secured. Various civic clubs could be approached about funding transportation for the students from their area.

Laverne Matheson mentioned that there are now at least two sites that people can take swim platforms and old boat docks for disposal year around. He said that platforms could be taken to Jim King's, Tarrie Hyche's, and Free State Boat Docks.

Tim Malone stated that he would be attending Farm Bill Training in October.

Glen Gaines mentioned the following dates for the Bankhead National Forest:

  • September 6th - Volunteer Work Day at Owl Creek Horse Camp to install high lines for tying up horses.
  • September 19-20th - Cross Cut Saw training class for volunteers.
  • September 27th-2008 Archaeology Festival will be at Brushy Lake Campground on Saturday from 10:00 to 3:00.

Barry Baird stated there would be a Youth Dove Hunt September 6th, 2008, in Lawrence County. He also mentioned the Black Bear that was killed by a conservation officer in Athens. He will be meeting with Byron Tuggle at Winston County High School about an Archery Range that could be part of their Outdoor Classroom.

Laverne mentioned that he would be working on a PowerPoint presentation on Water Quality in Winston County that could be used with area youth. He will be getting photos from Winston County to show water quality problems and actions that can be taken to prevent water quality problems.

The next meeting will be held on September 18th, 2008, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Mike Henshaw