Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thanks Tom

Tom Counts is changing gears in 2010; he's retiring from his position as a wildlife biologist with the U. S. Forest Service. In addition to his job as a biologist, Tom is a hard working member of the Winston County Natural Resources Council. Through his involvement in the Alabama Natural Resources Council, he has helped us understand how our local council fits into the larger state-level organization. The members of the Winston County Natural Resources Council are thankful for the years of steady support that Tom has given to us and to the State Council. Even though Tom is changing his work status this year, we look forward to him continuing his role as an active council member.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rock Creek Watershed Meeting in Addison, Alabama

Members of the Alabama Water Watch Program recently hosted a meeting about the Rock Creek Watershed. A coalition of groups including the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy, Inc., the Winston County Natural Resources Council, the Winston County Commission, private landowners, ADEM, the Cullman Soil and Water Conservation District, and Smith Lake residents, are working together to prepare a grant that could help protect and improve the Rock Creek watershed. In order to get more involvement by local residents, this meeting in Addison was held at the Cullman Electric Cooperative building. An overview of the watershed area, which includes land in both Winston and Cullman counties, was given by the Alabama Water Watch staff. Alabama Water Watch is drafting a proposal that will result in a grant application being submitted to ADEM in April. If funded, the grant will help implement a variety of practices to protect and improve water quality in Rock Creek.

The next day, a group toured various stops in the Rock Creek Watershed. More photos from the meeting and tour are here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PLT Training

Project Learning Tree Facilitator Training

Project Learning Tree is an award-winning environmental education program designed for educators and other resource professionals working with youth from preschool through grade 12.
PLT uses the forest as a "window" on the world to increase students' understanding of our environment; stimulate students' critical and creative thinking; develop students' ability to make informed decisions on environmental issues; and instill in students the commitment to take responsible action on behalf of the environment.
We need volunteers to help implement this program in local schools. We need you!
We will hold a facilitator training program (train-the-trainer) for eligible participants who want to become involved in PLT in January at the School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences in Auburn. This two day training will give you all of the information and materials you need to conduct PLT workshops for educators and others in your area. Please consider attending.

To sign up, please complete the attached application and mail it to the address indicated on the form. For more information about Project Learning Tree, go to

When: January 6-7, 2010

Where: Auburn School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences

Cost: $75—Covers hotel room, meals, and materials

Questions: Chris Erwin
555 Alabama Street
Montgomery, AL 36104
(334) 481-2133

Monday, December 14, 2009

December Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will hold its monthly meeting on Thursday, December 17th, 2009, at 9:00 a.m. at the Bankhead National Forest Office in Double Springs.

The focus of this meeting will be the Annual Forestry Field Day to be held this spring. We hope to finalize the date, location, and discuss possible tour topics. I've contacted two TREASURE Forest owners that are willing to host this year's event on their forestland. Your input during this planning stage is very important.

Look forward to seeing you on the 17th.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet on Thursday, November 19th, at 9:00 a.m., in the Bankhead National Forest office in Double Springs. At this meeting, we will evaluate the FAWN Programs held in October and begin planning for the Forestry Field Day this spring.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rock Creek Watershed Planning Meeting

Alabama Water Watch will hold a meeting on the Rock Creek Watershed Management Project on Thursday, November 12th at 7 PM. The meeting will be held at the Cullman Electric Co-op in Addison. This is a great opportunity for landowners, residents, and people interested in our natural resources to take an active role in conserving our water resources. Alabama Water Watch (AWW) will provide a project overview and discuss ideas for future planning. AWW has secured a planning grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to look at ideas for addressing Rock and Crooked Creek's status as impaired water bodies.

Friday, October 30, 2009

2009 FAWN at Houston

The annual FAWN Programs were held on October 16th and 20th, at Houston Recreation Area in the Bankhead National Forest. This event is sponsored by the Winston County Natural Resources Council and has been held every year for at least the last 14 years. In fact, this year a teacher told me that she had attended the FAWN program as a sixth grader herself. The first day of FAWN was rained out and had to be rescheduled, but everyone pulled together to make the adjustments necessary to have a successful event. Over 300 sixth graders attended the two days of FAWN. Each FAWN program featured eight learning stations about natural resources in Winston County. New learning stations this year included Boating Safety and Hunter Safety. FAWN would not be possible without all the people that volunteer to be presenters, guides, and facilitators. Here's a link to some photos of the event.

Huge Feral Hog Killed in South Alabama

Just how big can the feral hog problem become? Here's a clue in an article from the Mobile Press-Register:

Could feral hogs grow to this size in Winston County? I sure hope not.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

National Public Lands Day on the Bankhead National Forest

Saturdays rainy weather did little to dampen the spirits of dedicated volunteers and Forest Service employees who came together on September 26 in celebration of National Public Lands Day to refurbish the Hurricane Creek Shooting Range.

The range has long been a favorite site to practice shooting for sport as well as for game hunting in the Bankhead. Recent years have taken their toll on the shooting tables, target posts, and information kiosks. An original component of this recreation area is an archery path that had been in disuse for several years due to dangers from bug-killed trees. Preparing for NPLD, Bankhead staff cut these dangerous snags so volunteers could clear the vegetation from the overgrown path.

Bales of Excelsior (shredded aspen) were delivered to replace those from years gone by that had served as targets. The entire archery path was cleared of overgrown vegetation. Gravel was brought in and spread on eroding portions of archery trail and the short wheelchair-accessible trail leading to the shooting benches, where the old, splintery wood was replaced with treated lumber. New Posts were placed at 25, 50, 75, and 100 yard target distances, and line for hanging targets was strung.

Most of these activities were completed by lunch time, when the rain had become heavy, although some folks stayed to finish their work under canopy shelters. A hotdog lunch was enjoyed by the group which had to squeeze under a tarp for protection from the elements. Not one complaint was heard - only relief that we had accomplished so much in such a short time under such wet circumstances.

A special thanks to Mike Henshaw who came out to support the project and provided us with two shelters. Winston County Natural Resources Council was a partner in this event along with National Wild Turkey Federation (Bankhead Beards and Spurs), Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association, Black Warrior WMA, and Aqufinia.

The support and help re-opening the old archery path and refurbishing the shooting range facility was evident this rainy day, when working together volunteers and Forest Service
employees showed that nothing can get in the way when working together toward a major goal.

Photos from the Public Lands Day in the Bankhead National Forest are posted here:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stimulus Money Arrives in Alabama to Combat Cogongrass

See the news article in the New York Times about Alabama's cogongrass control efforts getting financial support through the economic stimulus package.

Friday, September 18, 2009

September Meeting Minutes

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on Thursday, September 17, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs. The following members were present: Allison Cochran (serving as the Chairperson and Secretary), LaVerne Matheson, James Burnett, John Creed, and Jim Hughes.

The following topics were discussed:

-FAWN program - No changes needed.
-FAWN transportation - $1000 to be provided by the County Commission
-FAWN walk-thru on Wednesday, Oct 14 @ 9AM
-Alabama Natural Resource Council of the Year Award - $1200 to be presented to the WCNRC at the Cullman County Field Day.
-Suggestion by members present that Mike collect names of our folks attending the Field Day & call and register for us.
-National Public Lands Day - Bankhead - Saturday, Sept 26. Council approved donating $100 for food if it is needed - Wait & see.
-October 24 - Winston Co. Smith Lake Advocacy is having a Slough Clean-up. Private boats are needed to clean-up all Winston Co. sloughs. Bags & dumpsters will be at 4 locations TBD.
-Alabama Water Watch/AU submitted the 319 planning grant for Rock & Crooked Creeks.
-Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. is installing signs on the lake at each tributary with the trib/creek name on it.

Note: Thanks to Allison for chairing this meeting during the officers' absence.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2009 Outstanding Natural Resources Council Named

The Winston County Natural Resources Council has been named the 2009 Outstanding County Natural Resources Council in Alabama! The Alabama Natural Resources Council will be presenting the award to the Winston County Natural Resources Council members at the 2009 Regional Forestry Event and Field Day, on October 8, 2009 in Cullman County.

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will be presented with one plaque and a certificate for each council member. The Council will also be awarded $1,250.00 to be utilized for any project as determined by our council.

September WCNRC Meeting on Thursday, September 17th

The next meeting of the WCNRC will be on Thursday, September 17th at 9:00 a.m. It will be at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs. Chris Wright and Johnna Franks will be at a regional forestry meeting, however, I will relay an exciting announcement from them at the Thursday meeting.

We will discuss the upcoming FAWN Program schedules. The dates for the FAWN Programs are Thursday, October 15th, and Friday, October 16th. There's several changes from last year's programs, but the schedule is shaping up very well. Everyone has been very supportive of the FAWN Program by volunteering time out of their schedules to assist.

Look forward to seeing you on the 17th.

Friday, September 11, 2009

National Public Lands Day in the Bankhead National Forest

National Public Lands Day is Saturday, September 26, 2009. Rita Patterson, Forestry Technician, with the U. S. Forest Service, called to tell me about this year's project, which is to make improvements on the Hurricane Shooting Range and re-open the nearby Archery Range. Volunteers are needed to help make the improvements. Click on the image for a larger version of the flyer. For more information about the event, call Rita at (205) 489-5111.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

FAWN Dates for 2009

Johnna Franks has contacted the schools about the FAWN dates. Arley, Addison, and Double Springs are on Thursday, October 15th, and Haleyville and Lynn will be on Friday, October 16th. Please mark your calendars.

I'll be sending out FAWN program guides for these two dates very soon. Thanks to Johnna for making these arrangements.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Freshwater Jellyfish in Smith Lake

Kathy Potocsnak called me recently about a mystery organism that she'd found near her boat dock on Smith Lake. Since I couldn't recognize it from a verbal description, she brought one to the office. I made some photos and sent them to Rusty Wright, Extension Fisheries Specialist. Here's his response:

"Yep that is a freshwater jellyfish. I usually get 1-2 calls a year confirming the presence of these critters in our lakes and ponds. I think many times I'm settling a bet!

"Freshwater jellyfish,
Craspedacusta sowerbyi, is a non-native species originally from Asia. It is now common virtually globally. They eat small zooplankton but there is no evidence that they do any damage to our ecosystems. People see them most often from clear lakes, pools, and reservoirs: however they are also in more cloudy turbid water as well it is just that we can't see them as well in those systems.

"It is an interesting critter!"

Here's a link to the U. S. Geological Survey's web page about these jellyfish.

This jellyfish was actively swimming around in the jar. It would swim through the water for a few seconds, then it would pause and just float. After I made these photos, Kathy took the jellyfish back to the lake.

Thanks to Rusty for the identification of the photos, and to Kathy for bringing the freshwater jellyfish to our office.

Photos from the Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet

The WCNRC recently sent a delegation to the 2009 Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet to receive the Conservation Organization of the Year Award. While this has been noted in previous blog posts, I want to make one final post to share photos of the event. The Alabama Wildlife Federation hosts this event, and they have sent us a nice group photo. From left, front row, Bill Snoddy-landowner, Allison Cochran-U. S. Forest Service, Johnna Franks-Alabama Forestry Commission, Chris Wright-Alabama Forestry Commission, Mike Henshaw-Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Roger Hayes-Winston County Commisson, and Ken Sunseri-City of Haleyville. Back row, Tim Albritton-Natural Resource Conservation Service, Wade Hill-Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Tom Counts-U. S. Forest Service. If you click on the image above, a larger version is available.

The Alabama Wildlife Federation has an online photo album here.

Our photos of the event are online here.

Special thanks to Tim Albritton for nominating us for this award. It was an honor to be recognized at such a special gathering.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gypsy Moth Trapping

I have just completed picking up and checking 80 gypsy moth traps in Winston County. These traps are placed all around the county to monitor for the presence of the male gypsy moth. The chestnut-colored male and ivory-colored female moths are pictured on the right. While I found a couple of suspicious moths and sent them in for identification, they turned out to be harmless. This USDA trapping program is part of a larger effort across the United States to slow the spread of this pest of the hardwood forests. Click here for a brochure that gives an overview of the program. It is thought that this program can slow the inevitable arrival of the gypsy moth in this area by 75 to 150 years. The program has cut the spread rate from 13 miles per year to 3 miles per year. One reason that the spread rate for this moth is so slow, is that the female gypsy moth is unable to fly. Only the males can fly, so they cannot spread rapidly without human help. A common method of spread is egg cases hitching rides on vehicles. If a moth is found in this area, various control measures could be implemented to prevent a population from becoming successfully established. Here's a photo of one of the traps that I set out this year on a white oak tree.

Monday, August 17, 2009

WCNRC Regular Meeting, Thursday, August 20th

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will hold it's regular meeting on Thursday, August 20th at 9:00 a.m. at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs. Chris Wright, WCNRC chairman, says that the next FAWN program for Winston County 6th graders will be one of the main topics of the meeting.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Alabama Forest Supervisor Miera Nagy Congratulates the WCNRC

Miera Nagy, Forest Supervisor for the National Forests in Alabama, has written a letter congratulating the WCNRC for receiving the Alabama Wildlife Federation's Governor's Conservation Organization of the Year Award. Please click on the thumbnail image on the right to see her letter to us.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Article about Large Chestnut Tree Found in Alabama

Jean Allan, the District Archaeologist on the Bankhead National Forest, e-mailed me a link to an article in the Montgomery Advertiser about a large chestnut tree found in the Talladega National Forest.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Skeet Shoot to Benefit 4-H Shooting Sports

Want to practice your wing shooting before dove season?

This is the perfect opportunity to practice and support 4-H Shooting Sports in Winston and Cullman Counties.

There will be experienced instructors on the field if you would like some pointers on breaking the clays.

Cost will be $10.00 per round of 25. Bring your own shells or purchase them at the range. (7 1/2- 9 shot is recommended). There will be 2 age divisions. 18 and under, 19 and over. Prizes will be awarded, 25% to youth and 25% to adult winners. Proceeds from the shoot will benefit the 4-H Shooting Sports programs in Cullman and Winston Counties.

If you have never had the opportunity to shoot the game of skeet, come out and see the regulation field, and hone your skills for the upcoming hunting season. 4-H Shooting Sports volunteers will have concessions and lunch available, so come to spend some time on the new range and enjoy the day shooting.

Date: Saturday, August 22
Time: 9 am until 3 pm
Directions: Hwy 278 approximately 4 miles east of Addison. There will be signs on the highway or for more information call Kenny Robinson 256-566-9952 or Tim Robinson 256-566-3996

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cullman Archery Range

Byron Tuggle-Winston County High School Agri-science Instructor, Jay Conway-4-H Regional Extension Agent, and I recently visited the newly completed Cullman Archery Range. Jay says that the range has already seen a great deal of use and has been very popular. Mr. Tuggle hopes to build a scaled-down version for the Outdoor Classroom at the High School. The range is needed for the hunter safety education classes that Mr. Tuggle teaches. Barry Baird-Wildlife Biologist on the Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area, had a hand in the construction of this range. Some more photos of the range are located here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Regional Forestry Field Days

The Cullman County Forestry Planning Committee and the Winston County Natural Resources Council are co-hosting the regional forestry field day in Jones Chapel. This series of field days is being sponsored by the Alabama Forests Forever Foundation, the Alabama Natural Resources Council, and the Alabama State Tree Farm Committee. Also, a couple of items not listed on the flyer, the field day will begin at 9:00 a.m. and field day is free of charge. Pre-registration is required by calling the number listed. A larger version of the flyer is available by clicking on the image on the right, or by calling our office at (205) 489-5376. I'll be glad to send you a copy.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bankhead Liaison Panel Meeting Scheduled

The Bankhead Liaison Panel is scheduled to meet on Thursday, July 23, 2009. This public meeting will begin at 6:00 PM at the USDA Service Center in Moulton. Note this is a change of meeting location. The address for the Service Center is 13075 Highway 157, Moulton, Alabama 35650. The Ag Service Center is located across the Highway from the Cattle Sale Barn and next to the Lawrence County Exchange (Co-op).
Agenda items for this meeting include:
  • Mechanical Fuels Reduction Project on Bankhead National Forest
  • Quality Deer Management Program on Black Warrior WMA
  • Sipsey Wilderness Non-native Invasive Plant Inventory Project
  • Alabama A&M University's Center for Forest Ecosystem Assessment Research Update including new research opportunities for Aquatic Research
  • Rock Creek Watershed Planning

Monday, June 29, 2009

Conservation Organization of the Year

Winston County Natural Resources Council has been selected as the Alabama Wildlife Federation's Governor's Conservation Organization of the Year! This is an extraordinary achievement for the Council and quite an honor. Council members who would like to attend the Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards Banquet on August 7th should RSVP to Mike Henshaw or Johnna Franks. The Banquet will be held at the Marriott Legends at Capitol Hill in Prattville.

Visit to learn more about AWF's Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards program.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Winston Hardwood Lumber Tour

Winston Hardwood Lumber hosted the Winston County Natural Resources Council for a tour of the mill. Thanks to Mac McAlpine, his son Will Romine, Chip Hughes, and all the employees at the mill that patiently answered our many questions. The mill buys oak and poplar logs, and saws them into graded hardwood lumber. The wood goes to various customers in the housing industry for molding, cabinets, furniture, and flooring. Lower grade wood is used for pallets and crates. The remaining wood, sawdust, and bark is sold for fuel. With the current housing slowdown, demand for wood products is down, which in turn affects the hardwood market. For some on the tour, it was their first look at a mill with so much computerized equipment. Thanks again to Winston Hardwood Lumber for hosting the tour. Click here for more photos from the tour.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Smith Lake Watershed Meeting

A meeting was held on June 17th by Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. (WCSLAI) about possible efforts to improve the Smith Lake watershed. Of particular concern is Rock Creek, which is on the state's 303d list as an impaired stream. At the meeting opening comments were made by LaVerne Matheson of WCSLAI. Dr. Bill Deutsch, Director of the Alabama Water Watch, and Auburn graduate student, Mona Scruggs, presented information about the lake. They also mentioned the possibility of securing grant funds to improve the Rock Creek watershed. To receive these funds a Watershed Plan would need to be developed. Dr. Sam Fowler, Director of the Alabama Water Resources Research Institute at Auburn University, also spoke to the group about the benefits of a watershed plan. He highlighted the resources at Auburn University that could be used to help implement a plan.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kids Fishing Derby

The 2009 Kids Fishing Derby was held on June 6, 2009 in conjunction with National Fishing & Boating Week. Over 80 children came out to the Bankhead National Forest's Black Warrior Work Center pond to try and snag a catfish.
Pictures of the event are posted at
This annual community event would not be possible without the generous support of sponsors including the US Forest Service, Winston County Natural Resources Council, Winston County Commission, Alabama Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources - Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries, Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association, Double Springs Lions Club, Double Springs Civitans, National Wild Turkey Federation - Sipsey Strutters Chapter in Moulton, and Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Thank you everyone for supporting the event & volunteering to make it a success!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Upcoming Dates for the Council

Just a quick note about some important dates for the Winston County Natural Resources Council:
  • Watershed Meeting-Wednesday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs. Dr. Bill Deutsch, Director of Alabama Water Watch, will be speaking.
  • Tour of Winston Hardwoods Sawmill-Thursday, June 25 at 9:00 a.m. Will meet at U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs then carpool to mill.
  • Joint Meeting with Cullman County-Wednesday, July 15 at 9:oo a.m. in Jones Chapel to plan Regional Forestry Field Day this fall.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

LaVerne Matheson Selected for Mosley Environmental Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Allison Cochran

(Double Springs, Al) June 3, 2009 ----

Matheson Honored with Mosley Environmental Award

Winston County resident LaVerne Matheson has been selected as the recipient of the W. Kelly Mosley Environmental Award. The prestigious award, administered by Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, recognizes individual achievements in promoting the wiser use of renewable natural resources. Matheson was nominated for his outstanding efforts to conserve the water resources of Winston County and Smith Lake while educating residents and local leaders about our unique natural resources.

Matheson led the effort to establish Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy, Inc in 2006 and has served as President of the group since that time. The Advocacy group’s mission is to preserve and protect the environmental quality of Lewis Smith Lake and its tributaries through education of the public and promotion and implementation of sound environmental practices. “Laverne Matheson is the backbone of the group and is responsible for a number of achievements.” states Linda Atkinson, secretary/treasurer of Smith Lake Advocacy. Bankhead National Forest’s Wildlife Biologist Tom Counts commented that “Laverne is one of those unique individuals who saw a need and acted on it. He has put in many, many hours of personal time to organize the Advocacy group. By effectively enlisting the support of many hard working people the group has achieved much success.” Some of the group’s achievements include testing Smith Lake’s water at 18 sites in Winston County as a part of the Alabama Water Watch effort and working with Alabama Power Company’s Renew Our Rivers program. Through the Renew Our Rivers waterways clean-up program over 45 river miles have been cleaned-up resulting in an estimated 550 tons of debris removed from our waters. “Not only does LaVerne do the work of conserving our natural resources, he is committed to teaching others about their importance” states Winston County Extension Coordinator Mike Henshaw.

Matheson will be honored during the June Renew Our Rivers clean-up on Smith Lake. The clean-up will be held at the Clear Creek Recreation Area on Bankhead National Forest June 11-13. Volunteers, sponsors, and friends of the Lake are invited to Saturday’s picnic at the Bayleaf Pavilion at Clear Creek, where Matheson will receive the Mosley Environmental Award. The Award includes a certificate of recognition, a cash award, and a framed, limited-edition reproduction of a forestry-wildlife painting.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kid's Fishing Derby

The annual Kid's Fishing Derby is Saturday, June 6th at the Black Warrior Work Center, Bankhead National Forest. The derby is for children ages 5 - 12. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Children should bring gear and bait for catfish. The casting contest begins at 9 AM and the fishing derby kicks off at 10 AM. This is a free event for area youth! Come out to the Black Warrior Work Center, located on Hwy 33 North between Moulton & Double Springs, for a day of fishing & fun! Please help spread the word. A color flyer is available by clicking here.

The Fishing Derby is hosted by the Bankhead National Forest in cooperation with the Alabama Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources, Winston County Commission, Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association, Double Springs Lions Club, Double Springs Civitans, Winston County Natural Resources Council, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Sipsey Strutters - Moulton Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation & other local sponsors.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Looking for Volunteers

Greetings to all once again! Since my last post [yesterday :-)] we have decided to look for some volunteers to help with the roadside inspections that take place twice a month. This would simply mean that you would drive through an assigned section of highway to make sure that the garbage is being picked up. If the filled bags are still on site we would like you to make sure they are being placed in the proper location and that the bag tags are being attached. If any of you think you might be interested in being a Volunteer Inspector please give me a call at 205-489-8887 for more information. I currently have workers in the following areas:
Addison: County Road 41 North, County Road 39 North and County Road 99
Arley: County Road 41 near Duncan Bridge
Double Springs: 3 sections of Hwy 195 (from Scenic Drive to the Walker Co line)
County Road 327 and County Road 28
Haleyville: County Road 11
Grayson area: County Road 63 and County Road 3171

Thank you! Crystal

Annual Winston County Smith Lake Clean-Up

Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc., the Bankhead National Forest and Alabama Power invite you to the Annual Winston County Smith Lake Clean-Up. It will be held on June 11-13, 2009 at the Clear Creek Recreation Area in the Bankhead National Forest. Volunteers are needed for the event. Click on the image above for a larger version. For more information, contact Allison Cochran at (205) 489-5111, or Linda Atkinson at (205) 387-9999.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Winston County Assign-A-Highway Update

Greetings Everyone! I wanted to give you a quick update on the success of the program so far. Currently we have 13 probationers assigned to the program and they are cleaning a total of 17 1/2 miles. Each of these probationers have been assigned to serve time ranging from 20 - 100 hours. To date (since February) we have collected 111 bags of trash for a total of 3080 pounds of garbage being removed from our county roadsides. As we head into the the summer months I expect these numbers to go up considerably. However, I am very excited about what has been accomplished so far. If you have an opportunity, please say a special thanks to those that helped bring this program to our area and let them know that you would like to see it continue for a long time. Thank you! Crystal Say thanks to: County Commissioners, Mr. Mike Henshaw and the folks at RC&D and NACOLG

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May Meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council

The May meeting of the WCNRC will be at 9:00 am on Thursday, May 21st at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Some items up for discussion:
  • Regional Landowner Conference in October
  • Two possible field trips
  • Recent contributions to the Council
  • Review of the Forestry Field Day at Bill and Jeanie Snoddy's Farm
  • Youth Fishing Derby on June 6th
Chris and Johnna will be representing the Council at a planning meeting for the Regional Landowner Conference in Cullman. They'll give us an update on our role in the field day at the June meeting.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District Creates Blog

The Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District has created a blog to highlight the District's activities. Katherine Patton has been working on the blog, and she told me that she was influenced by the Winston County Natural Resources Council blog. I've added a link to their new blog in our links section. I'll be watching their blog to see what's happening in Walker County.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Photos from the Forestry Field Day at Bill and Jeanie Snoddy's Loblolly Farm TREASURE Forest

The Third Annual Winston County Forestry Field Day was held yesterday at Bill and Jeanie's TREASURE Forest in spite of threatening weather. Click here for photos from the field day.

Organized by the Winston County Natural Resources Council, over 100 private landowners, loggers, and foresters attended the all-day tour that featured ten learning stations. Thanks to Bill and Jeanie for hosting the Field Day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bankhead Liaison Panel Meeting

The Bankhead Liaison Panel will meet on Thursday, April 23. This meeting will be held at the Bankhead National Forest office on Highway 33 North in Double Springs. The meeting begins at 6 PM. Anyone with an interest in the management of the Bankhead is encouraged to attend. Highlights on the agenda include updates on the Grindstone-Mill-Inman Watershed project, Prescribed Burning, and White-nose Syndrome in bats.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

April Council Meeting

Our regular council meeting will be at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 16, 2009 at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs. We'll meet briefly at the Forest Service Office, and then head to Bill and Jeanie Snoddy's Loblolly Farm to plan details of the upcoming field day. The weather forecast looks favorable, and Bill and Jeanie will be at the farm.

Winston County Commission Votes to Support Kid's Fishing Derby

The Winston County Commission recently voted to support the Kid's Fishing Derby with a $2,500 grant. The grant funds will go to purchase catfish and awards for participants. The purpose of the derby is to spark children's interest in the outdoors, educate the public about our water resources, and to promote safe, ethical angling and boating. The Derby is a team effort of U. S. Forest Service, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Alabama Forestry Commission, the Double Springs Lions Club, and the Double Springs Civitans. Over 200 youth and adults are expected to attend this family-friendly event at the Black Warrior Work Center on Highway 33 on Saturday, June 6, 2009. A flyer for the Kid's Fishing Derby is available here.

The commission funds for the Kid's Fishing Derby are from the USDA and are earmarked for natural resources education. The grant proposal will now enter a 45 day public comment period. If you would like to comment, please contact the Winston County Commission.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Winston County 4-H Shooting Sports Club Hosts Friendly Competition at New Skeet and Trap Range

The Winston County 4-H Shooting Sports Club recently hosted the "Winston County Shoot-Out" at their new skeet range near Addison. 25 4-H'ers from Marion County, Winston County, and Cullman County attended the event, which was mostly a training session with a little competition thrown in to make the practice interesting. In the Senior Division, Marion County placed 1st, Cullman County 2nd, and Winston County 3rd. In the Junior Division, Cullman was 1st, and Winston was 2nd. Certified 4-H Shooting Sports Volunteers, Kenny Robinson and Tim Robinson, where pleased to see their new range being used to train young sportsmen. Jay Conway, 4-H Regional Extension Agent, said "This range will be an asset for 4-H Shooting Sports for years to come." Additional practice sessions and competitions are currently planned to prepare the 4-H'ers for the 2009 State Shotgun Championship in Childersburg on May 9th. Additional photos are available by clicking here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. Gives $1,000 to Support FAWN

Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. (WCSLAI) recently gave the Winston County Natural Resources Council $1,000 to support the council's annual FAWN Program for Winston County sixth graders. The check was presented at the WCSLAI Public Meeting on April 3rd, in Arley. WCSLAI was able to make the contribution from funds received from Alabama Power's Renew Our Rivers Program. Pictured from left is Mike Henshaw-Alabama Cooperative Extension System, John Sudduth-Winston County Natural Resources Council, Laverne Matheson-President of WCSLAI, and Frank Tidwell-Business Manager for Alabama Power's Haleyville and Hamilton Offices. This contribution will be a big help in keeping the FAWN program free-of-charge to the county's youth.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Third Annual Forestry Field Day at Loblolly Farm

The Third Annual Forestry Field Day will be held at Bill and Jeanie Snoddy's Loblolly Farm in Double Springs on Friday, May 1st, 2009, at 8:30 a.m.

Loblolly Farm carries the special designation of Helene Mosley TREASURE Forest, which means that Bill and Jeanie have developed and managed the forest according to a long-range plan. They've focused on timber production, recreation, aesthetics, and wildlife. The development has allowed their family and friends to derive a great deal of enjoyment from the property over the years.

Highlights include a walking tour of the property and speakers on such topics as long-range planning, forest management, pond construction and management, native grass establishment, forest roads, invasive plant management, and horticulture. A detailed program is available by clicking here. Loggers will receive six Professional Logging Manager (PLM) points by attending the field day.

Pre-registration is required by April 24th. A registration form is available by clicking here. Lunch is included in the $20 registration fee. You may also request field day program information by calling us at (205) 489-5376 or stopping by the Winston County Extension Office in the Courthouse Annex.

Monday, March 30, 2009

March Council Meeting Minutes

The following members were present for the March 19th meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council: Charlie Price, John Creed, Johnna Franks, Mike Henshaw, Laverne Matheson, Carl Godsey, James Burnett, Jim Hughes, and Wade Hill.

Glen Gaines, District Ranger for the Bankhead National Forest, is on special assignment for six months at the Forest Service regional office and will be working on forest restoration and collaborative efforts in the Southern Appalachians. Charlie Price will be acting ranger on the Bankhead for the next three months.

The council discussed the items related to the Forestry Field Day to be held at Bill and Jeanie Snoddy's Loblolly Farm in Double Springs on Friday, May 1st, 2009:
  • Air Evac Helicopter Exhibit
  • Thursday, April 30th Walk-Thru at 9:00 a.m.
  • Wildland/Urban Interface Exhibit
  • Promoting the Field Day with Garden Clubs and other groups
  • A small planning committee will visit Loblolly Farm to select learning stations and plan other details for the Field Day
In addition to the Field Day, the council covered:

  • Need for educational program on Carbon Credits
  • Update on activities related to the Rush Darter in Winston County
  • Update on the Assign-A-Highway program
  • Ideas for future Council tours-Burnett Quail Farm and Winston Hardwoods Mill
  • Cogongrass program in Franklin County on April 23rd at 1:00 p.m. at the Franklin County Forestry Commission Office.
  • Surplus tree seedlings-Johnna Franks has some hardwood seedlings and Jim Hughes has some pine seedlings.
  • Regional TREASURE Forest Meeting. Our Council has agreed to help the Cullman County Forestry Planning Committee host this program that will be held on Thursday, October 8th, 2009 at the Rubin Williams TREASURE Forest in Jones Chapel.
  • Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. will have a public meeting at 7:00 p.m. on April 3rd at the Traders and Farmers Bank in Addison. At this meeting, they will present the Council with a $1,000 check for the FAWN Program.
  • Laverne is working to get the U. S. Coast Guard Flotilla organization to present a water safety program at the FAWN Program.
  • James Burnett, Emergency Management Agency Director, mentioned the Be-Ready Camp for 6th Graders at Redstone Arsenal.
  • Johnna Franks announced that she had successfully applied for a $240 postage grant to support the Forestry Field Day.
  • The Arbor Week Tree sale netted the council $852.00. Johnna heads up the tree sale, and she is already planning next year's order of seedlings, nursery stock, and fruit plants.
  • The balance in the treasury is $3,406.72
The next Council meeting is planned for Thursday, April 16th.

Mike Henshaw

Thursday, March 26, 2009

National Wild Turkey Federation Banquet - April 2, Double Springs

The Bankhead Beards & Spurs Chapter (Winston County) of the National Wild Turkey Federation will hold the 6th Annual Hunting Heritage Banquet on Thursday, April 2. The banquet will be held at the Old National Guard Armory (Double Springs Municipal Building) on Hwy 195 South. The banquet opens at 6 and dinner is at 7 PM. Tickets are available in advance from James Horsley (205) 272-0668 or Chuck Ballard (205) 272-8060 and at the door. Tickets range in cost from $40 for singles to $250 for sponsors. Proceeds benefit the local and state chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Privet Control Demonstraton at 4-H Outdoor Classroom

As part of the 4-H Outdoor Classroom, Mr. Byron Tuggle's Agriscience Class at Winston County High School applied for and received a grant to control invasive privet that had engulfed the fence rows around the school's campus. The grant was provided by the Northwest Alabama RC & D Council. The funds from this grant went to purchase some imazapyr herbicide, which is very effective in controlling privet. The "before" treatment photo was taken in late September, 2008, just before the plants were treated. Imazapyr is not a fast acting herbicide, so we had to wait until spring to see if it worked. The "after" treatment photo was taken a few days ago on March 18, 2009. Three of Mr. Tuggle'sclasses are in the "after" photo; he insisted that all three be there for the photo since they'd all been a part of the effort. The total area of privet treated was estimated at 2 acres. The treatment seems to have been effective at this stage. "Clicking" on any of the photos will show larger version of them. Winston County landowners that would like to undertake privet control on their property can call me at (205) 489-5376. Privet control incentives are available under the NRCS's EQIP program. For more information on EQIP call Wade Hill at (205) 921-3103.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Group - Public Meeting

The Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy, Inc. is holding a public meeting on Friday, April 3rd. The meeting starts at 7 PM and will be held at the Traders & Farmers Bank in Arley.
At this meeting you can find out about volunteer efforts & opportunities to keep Winston County & Smith Lake clean & beautiful. You can learn how to participate in the 2009 Renew Our Rivers Clean-ups in Winston County. And the highlight will be hearing from Auburn University's Dr. Bill Deutsch about the state of local watersheds and water quality. Of particular interest to the Winston County Natural Resources Council is that a presentation will be made to the Council from the Advocacy Group and Alabama Power Company for $1000 to be used towards FAWN activities. Hope to see you at this FREE public meeting!
The mission of the Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy is to preserve and protect the environmental quality of Lewis Smith Lake and its tributaries through education of the public and promotion and implementation of sound environmental practices.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Managing Wild Hog Damage Workshop

Tom Counts, Allison Cochran, and I attended the Managing Wild Hog Damage Workshop in Tusculoosa on March 20, 2009. Feral hogs are a problem in the Bankhead National Forest, and the problem is getting worse across the state and the nation. This workshop was an effort to spread the word on effective hog control techniques. The workshop speakers had years of experience with wild hogs. The organizers had also put up several types of hog traps on the grounds, and the last part of the workshop was held outside at the traps. I made few notes on points that I thought were important:
  • Hogs have quick 115 day gestation period (less than four months)
  • 4-15 offspring per litter
  • 6 months of age at sexual maturity
  • Group of pigs is called a "Sounder"
  • Home range of 10 miles, and they are nomadic
  • They are fast runners and can reach 30 mph.
  • Their eyesight is poor, they rely on an excellent sense of smell.
  • Most active from 2 am to 5 am
  • Seek water and shade during the heat of the day.
  • Adult has a 12-inch long nasal cavity for excellent sense of smell.
  • Sows make brood nests out of vegetation.
  • Meat processors are not approved to slaughter wild hogs in the same facilities as other game, making it unprofitable for many processors.
  • Cholera has potential to be harbored in wild hogs.
  • Raw pork from wild hogs can give dogs a fatal disease called pseudorabies.
  • Wild hogs carry brucellosis.
  • Trapping is most cost-effective control, but must be used as part of a multi-faceted approach.
  • No eye shine with spotlights at night, and it's against law without permit.
  • Conservation officers can issue control permits without a site visit.
  • Molasses is a good bait because it has a smell that draws them to the trap.
  • Many Farmers Coops sell bulk molasses at a reasonable cost.
  • "Pre-baiting" is a key to success in trapping hogs.
  • A "Poor Mans Hog Trap" costs about $350 to build.
  • Texas has the largest hog problem, so bad that it now allows aerial hunting.
  • New technologies such as radio tagging, and thermal night imaging show promise in controlling feral hogs.
Over a hundred people attended the workshop. A few random shots of the traps setup at the workshop are located here. Thanks to Mark Smith, Chris Jaworowski, Wayne Ford, and others for organizing an excellent program.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Postage Grant Approved

I am pleased to announce that the Winston County Natural Resource Council has been approved through the Bradley/Murphy Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Trust, for a Postage Grant in the amount of $240.00.

This grant money will be extremely useful to the Council in paying the postage expense of our invitations for the Third Annual Forestry Field Day at Loblolly Farm.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

22 Attend Beekeeping Workshop in Addison

With interest in beekeeping growing, the attendance at a recent beekeeping workshop in Addison swelled to capacity. Beekeepers and those interested in beekeeping visited Charles and Kathy Brannon's Farm just north of Addison. Expert Haleyville beekeeper, Billy Pratt, brought beekeeping equipment for participants to look at and try out. A highlight of the two hour workshop was the chance to open a hive and examine the brood. Above is a photo of a queen bee; click on the photo to see the queen bee located in the center of the photo. Below, participants check out some new beekeeping equipment, while Billy Pratt and Charles Brannon examine brood comb.

Update on Winston County Assign-A-Highway

Since our press conference on 2/27 we have now picked up 650 pounds of garbage from county roadsides! I'm expecting an even bigger number than that right away as we have two cleans going on as we speak and another expected clean next week.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Winston County Assign-A-Highway Press Conference

A press conference announcing the start of the Winston County Assign-A-Highway Program was held recently at the Double Springs City Hall.  I made a short video with a Flip video camera.  The audio is a little weak, so turn up the sound up on your computer so you can hear the presenters on the video.  We look forward to getting progress reports on the program from Crystal.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Chestnut Research Highlighted in Birmingham News

An article in today's Birmingham News features Dr. Stacy Clark's research on the American Chestnut. Her test plots on the Bankhead National Forest are included in the article celebrating Arbor Week. The article is linked here:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tree Sale Success!

The Winston County Natural Resource Council held their annual Tree Sale on Monday, February 23, 2009. The sale was a huge success again this year and I'd would like to thank everyone who participated. The Council's expense for the trees, fruit and shrub this year was $865.00, and our profit netted us $846.00! These funds will be a great asset to the council in paying for our expenses toward the educational programs we provide each year in Winston County.