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: