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.