Friday, January 30, 2009

Alabama Bat Blitz Video Posted to the Web

A video about the SE Bat Diversity Network Bat Blitz held on Bankhead National Forest in August 2008 has been posted to the internet.
Visit to view the video & learn about Bankhead's bats & inventory efforts.
The Winston County Natural Resources Council was a sponsor of the Bat Blitz.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winston County Assign-A-Highway

Hello! My name is Crystal Till and I am the program manager for Winston County’s very newly launched program called Assign-A-Highway. Through a partnership with Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments (NACOLG) and Northwest Alabama Association of Resource, Conservation and Development and with help from Mr. Henshaw and the Winston County Office of Alabama Cooperative Extension System and of course our local county government we will be working with probationers assigned to our program to provide sustained litter removal from our roadsides. These probationers will be assigned to the program as part of their probation terms. We will then assign a section of highway roadsides that the probationer is responsible for keeping clean for the duration of the probation term. While the litter removal is unsupervised I will be regularly checking assigned areas.

This program is still in the very early stages of development however, it is being modeled after what has proven to be a very successful program in the state of Virginia. One of our goals in addition to utilizing the manpower of our probationers to clean up our area are to educate our community about litter problems. We hope to show how litter removal will contribute to the success of Winston County in many ways such as increasing tourism, enhancing industrial recruitment and reducing trash and debris that flows into our streams and lakes, thus improving water quality.

We are very excited about getting things “off the ground” to clean up our roadsides county wide.

Volunteers Needed for Tree Planting on Bankhead

The Bankhead National Forest & Wild South have scheduled a volunteer day to plant longleaf pine seedlings in the Black Pond Area on February 14. Volunteers will meet at the planting site at 9 AM. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Janis at Wild South (256.974.6166) or Stephanie at Bankhead (205.489.5111).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2009 Regional Forestry Event

The Alabama Natural Resources Council and the State TREE FARM Committee are sponsoring three regional forestry field days in the fall of 2009.
These events will serve as a public platform to present the Helene Mosley Memorial Award and the Outstanding County Natural Resources Council Awards.

Cullman County Natural Resource Council, along with Alabama Forestry Commission personnel from Winston County have held several meetings preparing for the one day event.

Any WCNRC members who would like to be involved in the planning of this field tour can call me for more information.

This event will be held during the month of October 2009 in Cullman County, possibly near the Jones Chapel area. Our next meeting will be Wednesday March 4th at the Jones Chapel VFD at 9:00 am

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chris Wright Selected for State Invasive Species Team

Chris Wright, Winston County Manager with the Alabama Forestry Commission, has been selected to be a member of their Invasive Species Team. The team will be focusing on cogongrass as part of a U. S. Forest Service competitive grant. Chris is a registered forester and also serves as chairman of the Winston County Natural Resources Council.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Managing Feral Hog Damage Seminars

A series of seminars will be held in late February and March about managing feral hog damage.  The closest one to Winston County is the Tuscaloosa seminar on Friday, March 20th, 2009.  You can click on the program flyer on right for a larger view.  If you would like a copy of the program flyer, give me a call or send me an email.

Friday, January 16, 2009

EQIP News Release

Alabama NRCS Announces Sign-up Cutoff Dates for Key Farm Bill Program

AUBURN, Ala., January 14, 2009 – State Conservationist Gary Kobylski with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces January 30, 2009, as the cutoff date for several resource concerns under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applying for EQIP is continuous; however, selecting applications for funding is completed periodically through batching periods with specific cutoff dates.

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who face threats to soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land.
The 2008 Farm Bill authorized Special Emphasis funding for two new areas: Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. Kobylski said “In Alabama, we have allocated special statewide funds to these areas along with Limited Resource Farmers and Small Scale Farmers. These two new special emphasis areas along with Limited Resource Farmers are eligible for increased payment rates. The sign-up for these special emphasis areas is continuous, but the batching date for current applications is January 30, 2009.”

Kobylski also announced sign-up for the new Precision Farming Incentive. This is a continuous sign-up with a batching date of February 13, 2009. Cropland producing annually planted crops in the following counties is eligible for 2009: Baldwin, Barbour, Cherokee, Coffee, Colbert, Covington, Dale, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Mobile, Monroe, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, and Madison.

The Precision Farming Incentive is designed to encourage the adoption of variable-rate application of nutrients and pesticides and promote the use of GPS-enabled precision agricultural technology and equipment. The goals of the Precision Farming Incentive include improving water quality by targeting areas for reduced nutrient and pesticide application, reducing runoff and leaching of pesticides, enhancing soil quality through reduced erosion and soil compaction and energy conservation through accurate and efficient application of crop inputs.

Eligibility requirements on EQIP are available on the
Alabama NRCS website under “Programs” (
For more information, contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office, listed in the telephone book under U.S. Department of Agriculture.

January Council Meeting Minutes

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs on January 15, 2009. The following persons were present: Wade Hill, Allison Cochran, Carl Godsey, Laverne Matheson, Barry Baird, Mike Henshaw, Crystal Till, John Creed, Bill Snoddy, Tom Counts, James Burnett, Glen Gaines, Johnna Franks, and Chris Wright.

Crystal Till, the manager of the Winston County Assign-A-Highway program, said the new program will use court-assigned parolees to pick up litter on the county's roads and highways. She stated the program is a partnership with NACOLG, NW Ala RC & D Council, the Winston County Commission, and the court system. The program is modeled after one in Virginia. She stated that the Virginia Assign-A-Highway has served 40 counties, 8,000 parolees, and has cleaned over 10,000 miles of Virginia highways.

Laverne Matheson stated that the Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. board of directors had decided to give the FAWN program $1,000. They are also interested in conducting a water safety program in cooperation with the U. S. Coast Guard Floatilla. The Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. will present the check to the WCNRC on April 3rd at their meeting in Arley. Dr. Bill Deutsch, the Alabama Water Watch Program Director, will speak at this meeting, as well.

The council reviewed the Woody Biomass as Energy program that will be held in Jasper on February 19, 2009.

Wade Hill, District Conservationist with the NRCS, reported that the current deadline for the EQIP signup will be January 30th. He encouraged everyone to promote the program to landowners since there had not been a great deal of signup activity in Winston County. The EQIP program has funding for such practices as pasture weed control, privet and kudzu control, water troughs and spring developments for livestock, prescribed fire, tree planting, timber stand improvement, fencing for rotational grazing and water protection, silvopasture, grass planting, and poultry incinerators.

The Arbor Week Tree Sale will be held on Monday, February 23 at 9:00 a.m. at the Winston County Forestry Commission Office in Double Springs. Johnna Franks will be posting an entry on the blog about the species available this year.

Johnna stated that the treasury has a balance of $2,113.82.

Barry Baird, Wildlife Biologist for the Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area, reported on the Archery in the Schools program. He is looking for support to establish the program at Winston County High School. Mr. Byron Tuggle, Agriscience Instructor, teaches Hunter Safety Education to his students and the archery program would help in conduct the hands-on portion of the training. Barry recently graduated from the Police Academy, and was fourth in his class.

Allison Cochran said that they will be putting out fish structures in Smith Lake on February 18-19 at 9:00 a.m. at Clear Creek. They are recruiting additional volunteers to assist.

Allison noted that WildSouth will be planting 1,000 longleaf pine seedlings on February 14th and they are seeking additional volunteers for the project.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jasper Workshop on Woody Biomass as Energy

The Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District is sponsoring a workshop about using woody biomass as energy on Thursday, February 19th at 10:00 a.m. in Jasper. There is no charge, but registration is required. You should be able to read the detailed agenda by clicking on the image on the right side of this entry. If you would like a copy of the agenda, give me a call at 205 489-5376.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Correction - Bankhead Liaison Panel to Meet in Moulton

Correction - Please Note!
The Bankhead Liaison Panel will meet in Moulton (not Double Springs) at 6 PM on January 22. The meeting will be held at the Moulton Rec Center (Alexander Park).
Everyone is welcome to attend this public meeting.

January Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet on Thursday, January 15th, at 9:00 a.m. at the Bankhead National Forest District Office in Double Springs.

Tom Grubbs and Johnna Franks have some good news about FAWN funding.

Plans are falling into place for the Landowner Field Day at Bill and Jeanie Snoddy's Loblolly Farm on Friday, May 1st, but we still have a few gaps in the agenda. We'll have draft programs at the meeting.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bankhead Liaison Panel Meeting

The Bankhead Liaison Panel will meet on Thursday, January 22 at 6 PM. The meeting will be held at the Bankhead National Forest office on Highway 33 North. The meeting is open to the public. Agenda topics include updates on the Grindstone-Mill-Inman and Corinth Watershed Restoration Projects & Environmental Assessments; an upcoming stewardship project in the Upper Brushy Watershed; an update from Alabama A&M's Center for Forest Ecosystem Assessment; and on-going projects in the Bankhead's Quail Emphasis Areas.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sipsey Wilderness Hiking Club Trailblazer Award

The Sipsey Wilderness Hiking Club recently selected Larry Barkey as its Trailblazer of the Year.  Pictured from left is, Gary White-Chairman, Larry Barkey-Vice Chairman and Trailblazer of the Year, and his wife, Mimi Barkey, Secretary/Treasurer.  The award is given to the club member with the most hours of volunteer service.  In the past year, Larry Barkey volunteered 62 hours of service.  In 2008, the Sipsey Wilderness Hiking Club volunteered 349 hours work toward public service projects, such as clearing trails in the Sipsey Wilderness Area of the Bankhead National Forest.  Since the club's inception in 2000, the club has spent 3,728 hours in volunteer service.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Article about Quail Habitat Restoration on Public Lands by Tom Counts

The Winter 2009 issue of Alabama Wildlife, features an article by Tom Counts, the District Wildlife Biologist for the Bankhead National Forest. The article reports on bobwhite quail habitat restoration on the National Forests in Alabama, as well as, the Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge. Alabama Wildlife is a publication of the Alabama Wildlife Federation.

USGS Real-Time Stream Levels in Winston County

The U. S. Geological Survey has real-time water data for many streams in Alabama.  Links to the two stations in Winston County have been added to the links section on this blog.  One station is located near on the Sipsey Fork near the Sipsey Picnic Area, and the other is located on Clear Creek near Poplar Springs.  As I write this, heavy rain is causing the Sipsey Fork stream gage to report rising water levels.  When you click on the links for the real-time stream data, there are two main sections, the discharge flow and the gage height.  The webpage provides a graph for the past seven days, but this can be changed to any time frame from 1 to 60 days, if you desire.