Sunday, December 19, 2010

LaVerne Matheson Selected as the Arley Women's Club Person of the Year

LaVerne has been selected as the Arley Women's Club Person of the Year!  The following is a message from Linda Atkinson about the news  :

Our President and founding father of Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy was selected last week as the Arley Women’s Club Person of the Year!  We are so proud of him, and hope that you will extend congratulations his way!   Below is the nomination detailing his accomplishments.

Merry Christmas to you and yours from your Board members, and Happy New (cleaner Lake) Year!


Linda Atkinson, Secretary Treasurer

When the Arley Person of the Year moved from Florida to Alabama, he immediately recognized a need to become involved with local conservation and community groups.  He noticed that some parts of Lewis Smith Lake were having clean-up events but none within Winston County.  He also found that, even though some landowners were concerned about water quality there was no organized group doing anything about it.  He then organized and led the effort to establish Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy in 2006.  Since that time, the group has grown to 80 members.  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. 

This person is the backbone of the group and is responsible for a number of achievements.  To educate Winston County residents and leaders about the importance of watershed health and highlight our unique and clean water resources, this person has provided presentations and slide shows to County Commissioners and others at community events and public meetings.  He represents the group on the Winston County Natural Resources Council and the Bankhead National Forest’s Liaison Panel. 

This person and the Advocacy Group have hosted several Alabama Water Watch training courses for volunteer water quality testers.  The Advocacy Group volunteers (including this person and some 30 others) test Smith Lake’s water at 18 sites in Winston County.  The Group provides testing equipment and reports results to Alabama Water Watch.  The Alabama Water Watch recognized this person with their Fresh Face Award for outstanding performance and contributions of a group that quickly organized monitoring efforts in 2007.

Perhaps the greatest local achievement of this person and the Advocacy Group is their work with Alabama Power Company’s Renew Our Rivers program.  This is a waterways clean-up program to remove Styrofoam, litter and abandoned boat houses from Smith Lake.  This person has single-handedly organized two clean-ups on Rock Creek and coordinated with the Bankhead National Forest to have two clean-ups on Clear Creek and Sipsey Fork.   Hundreds of landowners, the Winston County Commission and local businesses have worked together on this project.  This person understood the need for local involvement and garnered support from the Winston County Commission and other community leaders and businesses.  He has also secured free disposal sites for homeowners to discard old boat house Styrofoam in a responsible manner.  To date many river miles in Winston County have been cleaned-up resulting in an estimated 700 tons of debris removed from our waters.  Over 130 structures were included in that number.

Not only has he led the effort to get the waterways cleaned up; he has also worked to educate the next generation about the issues of water quality.  Partnering with Alabama Power Company, he and the Advocacy Group have distributed Message In A Bottle coloring books to all Winston County elementary school children for the last three years.  These educational coloring books teach students about littering and pollution of our waterways.  They have also participated in the FAWN field days by having an educational lesson on Water Quality for all 5th graders in Winston County Schools.

This person spent many hours working with Alabama Water Watch and many other organizations to develop a project plan that would help rescue parts of the Rock Creek Watershed from the 303D endangered streams list.  He has worked diligently with Advocacy and a local company to obtain a grant and to execute it to erect signs at the entrance to 33 creeks on Smith Lake in Winston County.

In 2009, this person received the prestigious W. Kelly Mosley Environmental Award for 2008, an award administered by Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences to recognize individual achievements in promoting the wiser use of renewable natural resources.

This person is a dedicated volunteer.  He is interested and actively engaged in the conservation of water resources in his new home community on Smith Lake and Winston County.

Sounds like a person with a lot of energy… and he and his lovely bride bought a Wave Runner for the first time and have been enjoying it immensely, and they recently decided that they wanted to realize another lifelong dream…they bought a 1994 Jaguar convertible and have been cruising the highways and byways.. he’ll be 82 years young this month, so wish a very happy birthday to the 2010 Arley Women’s Club Person of the Year, the amazing LaVerne Matheson!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Arley Students Sing the 12 days of Fitness

Meek Elementary students learned about the 12 Days of Fitness.

Singing and acting out the movements of the song to the tune of the "12 Days of Christmas" the students got a workout during the after-school program.

“On the first day of fitness, my trainer gave to me”
- 12 jumping jacks
- 11 raise the roofs
- 10 knee lifts
- 9 side stretches
- 8 jogs in place
- 7 jabs/punches
- 6 kicks to the front
- 5 hula hoops (imaginary)
- 4 jumping ropes (imaginary)
- 3 muscle poses
- 2 scissors (feet apart then cross in front, feet apart then cross in back)
- 1 stork stand (balance on one foot)

After working out for several minutes they transitioned into putting together a bag of trail mix to take home to gift to another or themselves. Ingredients in the trail mix included lots of healthy options -- from dried cranberries, to soynuts, to sunflower seeds, and even whole grain oats.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Healthy Snacking for Addison Youth

Youth in Addison's After-School program got to try soy-nuts and dried cranberries prior to making their own mixture of a trail mix. Using whole-wheat oats cereal as a base, the boys and girls mixed up sunflower kernels, raisins, peanuts, almonds and chocolate and peanut-butter pieces into a healthy snack they could eat while being active outside. They were reminded that different foods provide different nutrients to our body and make it possible for us to be healthy and active.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Youth Trapper Education Workshop

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will hold a youth trapper education workshop in Decatur on December 17 - 19. Seasoned trapping instructors teach students a variety of subjects including the history of trapping, furbearer ecology and management, trapping techniques, laws and regulations, and outdoor ethics. The workshop is free and open to youth at least 6 years old. Youth under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Registration is required. Call 205-339-5716 to register. Visit for more information.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area Hunters Helping Feral Swine Control Efforts

According to Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area Biologist Barry Baird, hunters have reported removing 29 feral hogs so far this season. Baird estimates another 19 have been taken and not reported since the opening of archery season on the Black Warrior. Hunters are being encouraged to help control the feral swine population on the Area by legally harvesting every feral hog encountered. Feral swine hunting regulations for the Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area and for public and private lands in the state of Alabama can be found on On Black Warrior WMA, it is legal to harvest feral swine during any scheduled hunt with the legal arms and ammunition for that hunt with proper license and permit. For example, during this Friday and Saturday Zone A gun deer hunt, hunters may take a feral hog with a centerfire rifle. A state hunting license, management area license, and a management area permit are required. Permits are available at the Black Warrior Check Station on Forest Service Road 208.

During the last two weeks' scheduled gun deer hunt on the Black Warrior WMA, hunters reported seeing feral swine in the Flannagin Creek, Borden Creek and Walston Ridge areas. Please share feral swine sightings and harvest reports with area biologists.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Meek and Addison Elementary Students Learn about Earth Ethics

Students in the after-school programs at Meek and Addison Elementary continue learning about positive actions they can take to be stewards of the environment. During one session the students discussed rules of the outdoors -- from no littering to staying on trails. After reading the book "Trapper" they then talked about other rules that might include no collecting of natural items in the outdoors. In another session students at Meek Elementary developed puppet shows after learning about different things that can be done at home to conserve energy - from turning off the lights when you leave a room, to recycling aluminum and plastic items.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rain Barrel Workshop

The Alabama Environmental Council is hosting a Rain Barrel Workshop on December 4th at Camp McDowell near Double Springs and Jasper, Alabama. The workshop cost is $25 which includes rain barrel materials and tools. Interested participants should register with Adam Johnston, johnsaw.adam@gmail .com or 205-300-0555. The workshop is scheduled on December 4th from 10 - 12 and participants should bring their own lunch. An optional afternoon canoe trip along Clear Creek is available after lunch.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rainbow Trout Released Below Lewis Smith Lake

Here's an article from the Birmingham News about rainbow trout being released below the Smith Lake Dam.  The link is here:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hunters Encouraged To Legally Take Feral Swine

In a news release issued by the Bankhead National Forest, hunters are encouraged to legally take feral swine when the opportunity arises. See the news release at to learn about the growing feral swine problem in our area and how you can help control the problem.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Addison and Meek Elementary are "Youth Taking Action"

Students involved in after-school programs at Addison and Meek Elementary Schools have been involved in learning about being good stewards of the outdoors.

As participants in the USDA Forest Service sponsored program "Youth Taking Action" they have been introduced to topics as diverse as tree identification and forest management - to their role in taking care of the planet. For example, after surveying areas around their school to find litter they discussed ways they could help their school by not littering and recycling the things that they use.

An emphasis on being active outdoors instead of indoors playing video games or watching TV is emphasized because one of the goals of the program is to help reduce childhood obesity by helping youth be active outside. Jumping rope was one outdoor activity that many found challenging and fun. Future topics include energy conservation and respecting the outdoors so future generations can enjoy it too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Minutes of November Meeting

The following members were present at our regular meeting on November 18th at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs:  Mike Henshaw, LaVerne Matheson, Jim Hughes, James Burnett, and Stephanie Love.

Allison Cochran e-mailed some information that we discussed:
  • The Rush Darter has been proposed for listing on the Federal threatened and endangered species list.  This species has been found in Mill Creek, Doe Branch, and Wildcat Branch, all of which are tributaries to Clear Creek.  Daniel Drennen with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service would like to meet with some local citizens ahead of the proposal.  Allison has asked for suggestions on individuals or organizations that would be interested.  LaVerne said that he was sure that there would be someone with WCSLAI that would like to attend.  Allison noted in her e-mail that critical habitat would likely be designated at the same time.  While little is known about this proposal at this time, it could have significant economic impacts in the area, so there could be some controversy surrounding this proposal.  LaVerne gave examples of a dam in Tennessee that was delayed due to an endangered fish while other dam construction plans were canceled altogether.  The council suggested that other organizations that might have a role are the NRCS and Alabama Water Watch. 
  • Allison also said that she supported the Pulling Together Initiative and supported the council funding the proposal with $1,000, if the grant funding comes through.  Since Johnna, the Treasurer, and Chris, the Chairman were not present, and there is no need for immediate action, this issue will be taken up at a later meeting.
The council also discussed other business:
  • Approved a request for $50.25 for FAWN program insurance.
  • Hazard Mitigation Funding for local land owners was approved.  These funds can be used for mulching and prescribed burning on private land.  This funding came to the Alabama Forestry Commission through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • James Burnett brought several copies of a booklet about the Alabama Winter Weather Awareness Week from November 15 to November 19th.
  • James also brought information about the Great Central U. S. ShakeOut.  This is an event commemorating the 200th anniversary of the New Madrid earthquakes.  As part of this effort, the ShakeOut will hold a drill that will be the largest earthquake preparedness event in central U. S. history.  More information is available at
  • Jim Hughes suggested Addison as the location for a 2011 Natural Resources Field Day.  Jim suggested that the Burdick property might make a good site.  LaVerne agreed that with the Rock Creek Watershed Project, Addison would be a good location.  He also suggested looking into the Brannon Farm as a possible site.
  • LaVerne gave an update on the Rock Creek Watershed Grant.  While funding has been promised, the funding amounts and date funds will be received is uncertain.
  • James said that the American Red Cross would be conducting a blood drive at the Double Springs Municipal Building on December 7th.
  • A new invasive insect pest is making it's way into Alabama, the bean plataspid.  This insect feeds on various legumes such as kudzu and soybeans, and may be a threat to peanuts, alfalfa, and clover.  More information is available here. 
  • Stephanie Love invited everyone on the Council to the Annual Christmas Party for the Bankhead National Forest on Friday, December 10th at 6:00 p.m. at the Bernice Hilton Walker Building in Double Springs.  Meat and drinks will be furnished.  Please bring a covered dish or dessert to complete the meal.  Please RSVP by December 3rd, at 489-5111.
Johnna Franks, Treasurer, emailed that the balance was $7,301.50, as of 11/17/2010.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mike Henshaw, Secretary
Winston County Natural Resources Council

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November Council Meeting

The next Winston County Natural Resources Council meeting will be held on Thursday, November 18th, at 9:00 a.m. at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fire Use Restriction for Bankhead National Forest Lifted

The restriction on fire use for the National Forests in Alabama, including Bankhead National Forest, has been lifted.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hightower and Wood Visit National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Leon Hightower, left, and Glenn Wood, both of Addison, visited the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., on September 11th, 2010, through a program provided by Honor Flight Tennessee Valley. The Honor Flights are intended to give World War II veterans a chance to see the memorial and to show them the nation's gratitude for their years of sacrifice.

Hightower served from 1944-45 in the 379th Infantry Regiment which was part of the 95th Infantry Division of the Third Army commanded by General George Patton. Hightower fought in Holland, France, Luxembourg, and Belgium before crossing the River Rhine into the French town of Sarlat. He was wounded three weeks before the war ended. After being wounded, he was sent to Germany to recover from his injuries. Hightower has served on the Winston County Soil and Water Conservation District Board for over 40 years.

Glen Wood served in the Army in the China-Burma-India Theatre under the command of General Joseph Stilwell. He served for over two years as a cook for airplane pilots in remote jungles of Burma and India.

Hightower and Wood were part of an Honor Flight of 103 veterans that visited the memorial.

Double Springs Resident Gary White Takes Part in Mississippi Highpoint Dedication

Gary White with Woodall Mountain monument.

Gary White, a Sipsey Wilderness Hiking Club member and a Highpointers Club member, recently helped dedicate a monument at Mississippi's highest point during the recent national Highpointers Convention.  This highpoint is the 806 foot Woodall Mountain near Iuka.  The highpoint is on private property owned by the Brown family, but permission was granted to move a 8,200 pound rock to the top of the mountain to mark the exact location.  The rock has a permanently mounted bronze plaque that gives the elevation of the highpoint and some history about the mountain.  Gary acquired the rock, transported it to Woodall Mountain, and helped prepare it for the dedication.

The Daily Corinthian newspaper published an article about the monument dedication and the Highpointers Club.

A video about the dedication of the monument is at this link on the Highpointers Club website.

The monument was made possible in part by the Highpointers Foundation.  This foundation works with landowners to obtain access to state highpoints and to fund necessary improvements such as signage and monuments.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ants Featured in Afterschool Program

Jim Casteel, Program Assistant with the Winston County Extension Office, is conducting a program about ants at afterschool programs in each of the Winston County schools. Each class receives an ant farm with live harvester ants inside. During his visits to the schools, Jim shows the students how the ants build tunnels in their enclosure, gives them some basic facts about ants, and tells them the different parts of an ant. After learning how to care for the ants, the students will be able to observe them for several weeks. This program is funded through a 21st Century grant from the Winston County Board of Education.

WCHS Wins First Place in 2010 FFA Land Judging Contest Held on Sudduth Farm

Students from Winston, Walker, and Fayette Counties recently attended a FFA Land Judging Competition at John and Mary Sudduth's Farm in Double Springs. At the competition, students evaluated four sites, each excavated to a depth of four feet to expose all the soil layers. Students then described the features of the land such as slope, soil texture, and rated the land capability class. Students evaluate the soil for its suitability for production agriculture, building homes, or forestland. They also estimate drainage and erosion potential. Students at the contest are tested on their knowledge of soil types, topography, proper land use practices, and related topics. Scores were based on how closely the students’ evaluations match those of the official judges.

Teams prepared for the contest by learning the information in class, studying material published by the NRCS, and practicing land evaluation. Winston County Soil and Water Conservation District awarded prize money to each team. The Natural Resources Conservation Service provided technical support.

Photos from the event are here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fire Use Restriction Expanded to all National Forests Lands in Alabama

Forest Supervisor Miera Crawford Nagy has expanded the fire use restrictions to all lands outside developed recreation areas on the National Forests in Alabama. This prohibition on the use of all fire applies on the Bankhead, Talladega, Conecuh and Tuskegee National Forests. This restriction was prompted by continuing dry conditions and high wildfire dangers. The closure order is effective through December 31, 2010. More information can be found on the National Forests in Alabama's website at

October Council Meeting Minutes

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service Office at 9:00 a.m. on October 21st. Present were Elrand Denson, James Burnett, Tom Counts, John Creed, Laverne Matheson, Mike Henshaw, and Jim Hughes. The following topics were discussed:
  • Laverne Matheson spoke to the Haleyville Rotary Club and mentioned FAWN as part of his program about Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc.
  • Reviewed the FAWN Program at Houston Recreation Area for Winston County sixth grade students.
  • Bankhead Liaison Panel Meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on October 21st at the Traders and Farmers Bank in Double Springs. Elrand gave a review of the agenda for the upcoming meeting, which includes an overview of the mission of the panel, recent thinning operations, feral hog issues on the district, and horse trails.
  • The Winston County FFA Soil Judging competition is being held today.
  • A Bacteria Blitz will be held on October 22 and 23. Laverne reported that the Alabama Water Watch team will be up from Auburn to assist with the Blitz and give a "State of the Lake Address" at Dodge City.
  • An updated Emergency Fire and Fireworks Closure on USFS land is now in effect until December 31st.
  • A Lake Clean Up is being organized by WCSLAI for October 26-27 on Rock Creek.
  • Laverne noted that some of the tributary signs are now up on Smith Lake.
  • Tom said that a coal strip mine near Pebble is being sued by the Tennessee River Keepers for alleged violations.
  • The Pulling Together Initiative Grant has been submitted by the NW Alabama RC & D Council.
  • Status of Hazard Mitigation Program through Alabama Forestry Commission.
  • James said the State Troopers will be holding an Open House for the new State Trooper helicopter that will be located in a new hanger at the Cullman Airport. The helicopter may be available for search and rescue in the Bankhead National Forest.
  • Elrand noted that Alabama Power is undergoing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licensing for the operation of Smith Lake.
  • Laverne stated that there is currently a ban on installing rip rap on Smith Lake pending an evaluation of its effects on wildlife.
Mike Henshaw,

Free Rain Barrel Workshop in Florence

This is Heath King with the Northwest AL RC&D Council. We have secured a grant that will allow us to host a FREE Rain Barrel workshop at the Lauderdale County ACES office on December 1, 2010 at 9 a.m.. This will be a joint project with Extension staff involvement as well as other dedicated volunteers.

I have attached a flyer and a pre-registration form. Please distribute these items to your contacts at schools, community centers, and any other individuals that are interested in the positive benefits of recycling precious natural resources through the use of Rain Barrels.

The grant will allow the workshop to be free and each participant will get to construct their own rain barrel and take it with them. Registration will be first come, first serve so make sure any interested parties email, snail mail, or fax the attached pre-registration form back to me in a timely manner. My contact info is listed on the pre-registration form.  See registration form here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October Council Meeting on 21st

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 21st, at the U. S. Forest Service in Double Springs.

Feral Hogs Cause Damage in the Bankhead National Forest

Barry Baird, Manager of the Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area, says that feral hogs are a widespread problem on the wildlife management area. He sent me this map showing areas highlighted in green where feral hogs are present.  Barry said that this map would be updated as more information becomes available.  Plans also include a map of a larger area showing other areas where feral hogs are causing damage.

Monday, October 18, 2010

FAWN Programs Held at Houston Recreation Area

The 2010 Winston County FAWN Program was held on October 13 and 14, at the Houston Recreation Area in the Bankhead National Forest. 335 sixth graders attended the outdoor field days that included eight learning stations on a variety of natural resource and safety topics. Photos for the FAWN for the Addison, Double Springs, and Lynn Schools are available here. The photos for the FAWN program for the Haleyville and Meek Schools are available here. Thanks to all the partners that work together to provide the FAWN program for all Winston County sixth graders. Here's a partial list of the sponsors:

AL Cooperative Extension System/Winston County Office
AL Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources
Alabama Forestry Commission
Cradle of Forestry
Forest Stewardship Education Committee
Gateway Foods, Double Springs
Haleyville Board of Education
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Northwest Alabama RC&D Council
Regional Paramedical Services
Soil & Water Conservation District/Winston County Office
U. S. Forest Service, Bankhead National Forest
Winston County Assign-A-Highway
Winston County Board of Education
Winston County Commission
Winston County Emergency Management
Winston County Farmers Federation
Winston County Natural Resources Council
Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Article in local Times Daily on White-nose syndrome in bats

Check out this Times Daily article about the spread of white-nose syndrome in bats towards Alabama.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Professional Logging Managers and Foresters Course

The Alabama Center for Advanced Woodworking Technology is hosting a Professional Logging Managers and Foresters Course in Haleyville on Tuesday, October 12, 2010You can see the agenda for the program by clicking on this link. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

U. S. Forest Service Restricts Fire Use in Bankhead National Forest

Montgomery, AL (September 28, 2010) ---- Because of the extreme dry conditions that can possibly lead to wildfires, the U.S. Forest Service is alerting all forest users to be aware of specific public fire use restrictions in Alabama’s national forests. Forest Supervisor Miera C. Nagy recently signed an order that prohibits the use of fire in wilderness areas in the Bankhead and Talladega National Forests.

To protect the public and natural resources from the threat of wildfires, the following public restrictions are effective September 24, 2010 and will remain in effect until October 31, 2010:

Bankhead National Forest – Sipsey Wilderness; Talladega National Forest (Talladega and Shoal Creek Districts) - Dugger Wilderness and Cheaha Wilderness

  • Building, maintaining, attending, using a fire or campfire (wood or charcoal) at any wilderness area located on the Bankhead, Shoal Creek, and Talladega Ranger Districts of the National Forests in Alabama; except, the use of gas generated fire in a Coleman-type or backpacking stove will be allowed throughout the Sipsey, Dugger, and Cheaha Wilderness Areas on the Bankhead, Shoal Creek, and Talladega Ranger Districts. 36 CFR 261.52(a).
  • Violating any state law concerning burning or fires which are implemented for the purpose of preventing or restricting the spread of fires. 36 CFR 261.52(k)
  • Pursuant to 36 CFR 261.50 (e), the following persons are exempt from the order: Any federal, state, local officer or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting team or those holding a permit specifically authorizing the use of fire.

Anyone found violating any of these prohibitions might face a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization or imprisonment for not more than six months or both.

Forest Service officials advise that if you are planning to spend a few days in the national forest, you should look for changes in restrictions, which could change according to fire weather conditions. Human-caused fires can be reduced during these very dry conditions when everyone work together to prevent wildfires.

For information concerning any public restrictions and closure orders, please contact a U.S. Forest Service district office before visiting: Bankhead District (205) 489-5111, Conecuh District (334) 222-2555, Shoal Creek District (256) 463-2272; Talladega District (256) 362-2909; Oakmulgee District (205) 926-9765; and the Tuskegee District (334) 727-2652.

Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 Archaeofest at Brushy Lake

Here's a short video from the 2010 Archaeofest held at Brushy Lake in the Bankhead National Forest.  Despite the threat of rain, many exhibitors and participants showed up to enjoy this event.  Jean Allan, District Archaeologist, the Bankhead National Forest staff, and scores of volunteers pitched in to host a successful family-friendly event.

Photos have been posted here from this year's Archaeofest.

The Winston County Natural Resources Council was one of the sponsors of the event, providing the food and refreshments at no cost to participants.

Four New Cost-Share Practices Announced by Winston County Soil and Water Conservation District

Dianne Godsey, District Administrative Coordinator with the Winston County Soil and Water Conservation District, said that four new cost-share practices have been approved for Winston County landowners.  These new practices are Treatment of Invasive Species such as privet and kudzu, Plastic Culture for Vegetable Crops, Feral Hog Trap, and Treatment of Poultry Litter with Alum.  All of the practices have a 60% cost-share rate, meaning that 60% of the cost of implementing the practice is covered by the Soil and Water Conservation District and 40% is paid by the landowner.  Call Dianne Godsey at (205) 489-5227 for details about these new practices.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cattle Poisoned by Perilla Mint

I have gotten a number of calls about cattle being poisoned by perilla mint.  Dr. David Tyree, veterinarian and owner of Animal Health Services in Addison, told me that he knows of over 130 head of cattle that have been killed by perilla mint poisoning in this area.  Dr. Tyree said the symptoms of perilla mint poisoning are pneumonia, difficulty breathing, drooling, nasal discharge, and grunting upon exhaling.   He added that treatment is difficult and often unsuccessful.  Perilla mint is poisonous to cattle, goats, sheep, and horses.

The drought that we are experiencing is a major factor in the severity of this problem this year.  The plant is always present on Winston County farms, but the drought has driven the cattle to feed on this plant even though it is unpalatable.  Other poisonous plants may also become a problem if the drought continues.
We have a publication about perilla mint that is available free of charge by calling our office at (205) 489-5376 or by visiting our office in the John Nichols Building in Double Springs.

Mr. John Sudduth, a Winston County cattleman, explains how to identify perilla mint in this video that we made in a Winston County pasture.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September Council Meeting

LaVerne Matheson, President of WCSLAI, presents the
Council with a $1,000 check to support the FAWN
program for Winston County sixth graders.

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service Building on September 16th.  Present at the meeting were:  Jim Hughes, John Creed, Charlie Meek, Allison Cochran, LaVerne Matheson, Tom Counts, Mike Henshaw, and Stephanie Love.  Chris Wright, Chairman, called the meeting to order.  The following topics were discussed:
  • Wildfire conditions in the area are a concern with the recent dry weather.  Chris and Allison reported on two recent wildfires.
  • Chris said that Johnna Franks is recouperating well, and hopes to be back to work on light duty soon.
  • Treasurer's Report-Current account balance is $9,725.
  • T-Shirts for the FAWN program have been ordered.  This will be an increased cost for the FAWN program this year.
  • Discussed having a tour of the Old Log Jail for the students from Lynn and Meek this year.  There are several individuals in the community that could be recruited to speak to the students.
  • The FAWN program was discussed at length.  Several changes were made to the program, and a tentative program for the October 13-14 dates will be sent to members soon.  The walk-thru for FAWN will be held on October 12, at 9:00 a.m. at Houston Recreation Area.
  • The Archaeofest 2010 will be held at Brushy Lake on Saturday, September 25th.  The WCNRC approved $350 for food for the event.  WCNRC members are encouraged to attend and assist with the program.
  • Allison said that the Forest Service will be sponsoring a Hunter Education Class on October 18, 19, and 21.  Participants must register online at
  • There will be a Fire Prevention Day at Houston on October 2nd.
  • Tom Counts reported on the Alabama Prescribed Fire Council Meeting in Eufaula.  He noted that there were over 400 applications for the new program to promote prescribed fire. 
  • LaVerne reported on the recent Smith Lake Clean-Up that Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. (WCSLAI) conducted.  He said that Smith Lake was free from styrofoam from Duncan Bridge north.  He added that since the clean-ups had begun, over 170 tri-axle dumptruck loads of styrofoam had been removed from the lake, and over 130 abandoned boat houses had been removed.  LaVerne also stated that WCSLAI had made good progress on the signage for the tributaries on Smith Lake.  He said that one of their directors, Tom Grubbs, had been working very hard on that project.  LaVerne added that WCSLAI would also provide coloring books to all Winston County students in K-3rd grade, which would include about 1,400 students.  He gave us an update on the Rock Creek Watershed Grant and the PowerPoint Slide Presentation on Water Quality.
  • LaVerne also brought a $1,000 check from WCSLAI to be used for the FAWN program.  
  • Charlie gave us an update on the Pulling Together Initiative Grant to control invasive alien plants like privet and kudzu.  He said the final version of the grant would be submitted at the end of the month.  If funded, several sites will be selected for these demonstrations.
  • Charlie noted that the Winston County Assign-A-Highway program has been funded for another year.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Visit National Timber Tax Website

Visit the National Timber Tax Website where Tax Tips for Forest Landowners for Tax Year 2010 will be posted soon.
This website offers information for timberland owners on the tax treatment of timber related activities.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

2010 Archaeofest to be held at Brushy Lake on September 25th

Youth search for artifacts at an archaeological site
near Brushy Lake.

The USDA Forest Service, along with several national, state and local partners, is hosting an archaeology festival called “Archaeofest” in the Bankhead National Forest. The theme for Archaeofest 2010 is “Celebrating Our Heritage.” The free, public event is focused on people of the past and the things they left behind. “Living history” demonstrations will include civil war soldiers and civilians, Southeastern Indians, pioneer skills and even a bagpiper musician. Activities and exhibits are family oriented and will include a small working archaeological excavation, pottery and arrowhead making. Their will be learning stations on “What Can We Learn From Bones,” rock art and cave archaeology, as well as information about local history and Cherokee genealogy. Kids will enjoy Smokey Bear and Indiana Jones, and a free hot dog lunch will be provided. Please bring your lawn chair or blanket. The Archaeofest will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturday, September 25, 2010. Rainout date will be Saturday, October 9, at the same time. The Archaeofest will be held at Brushy Lake Campground Day Use Area. (Directions: From Alabama Highway 33, take paved Lawrence County Road 70 to Brushy Lake Campground.)  For more information, call Jean Allan at (205) 489-5111.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Minutes of August Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council Meeting was held at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 19th at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  Present were Chris Wright-Chairman, Jim Hughes-Vice Chairman, Mike Henshaw-Secretary, James Burnett, John Creed, Carl Godsey, LaVerne Matheson, Allison Cochran, Stephanie Love, and Elrand Denson.

Johnna Franks, the WCNRC Treasurer, is recuperating well at home.  The Council wishes her a speedy recovery.

The following items were discussed:
  • 2009 FAWN programs were reviewed and tentative plans were made for the 2010 FAWN programs.  According to James Burnett, funding should be available from the Winston County Commission for bus transportation.  LaVerne Matheson, reported that WCSLAI is planning to give $500 to $1,000 for FAWN, pending board approval.  There will be an increased cost associated with the T-shirts for the students this year.  If possible, the duration of the learning stations will be increased slightly. 
  • Allison Cochran distributed a color brochure about White-Nose Syndrome on bats.  She said the poorly-understood disease is having a major impact on bats.  To help prevent the spread of the disease to this area, all caves in the Bankhead National Forest are closed.  For more information on White-Nose Syndrome, visit  
  • LaVerne Matheson reviewed the status of the Rock Creek Watershed Grant.  Alabama Water Watch is making revisions to the draft proposal, and it will be resubmitted to ADEM in the next few days.
  • Pulling Together Initiative Committee
  • Charlie Meek, Northwest Alabama RC & D Council, is working with a group of
    council members on an invasive plant control demonstration grant called Pulling Together Initiative (PTI).  The pre-proposal was successful, so the group is now working on the full proposal.
  • LaVerne gave an update on the landslide that has occurred on Smith Lake.  He is working with various agencies to mitigate the hazards and environmental damage resulting from the slide.
  • The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is asking the public to take part in their Future Talk Survey that will help formulate a five year plan.  Survey is available until August 31st at
  • Hunter Education will be available at the U. S. Forest Service Office.  Allison said they will offer both the field day portion and the general hunter education course.  Call (205) 489-5111 for dates and other information.
  • Tentative date for the 2010 Archeofest is Saturday, September 25th.  
  • Alabama A & M is seeking approval for an air quality research tower on the Bankhead National Forest.
  • Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Incorporated is sponsoring a three-day Smith Lake Clean-Up on September 14-16th.
Submitted by Mike Henshaw, WCNRC Secretary

Monday, August 16, 2010

August Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 19th, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Monday, August 9, 2010

National Forests in Alabama Named Conservation Organization of the Year

The National Forests in Alabama were honored by the Alabama Wildlife Federation's 2011 Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards as the Conservation Organization of the Year. The National Forests in Alabama include the Bankhead, Shoal Creek, Talladega, Oakmulgee, Tuskegee, Conecuh Districts and the Supervisor's Office in Montgomery. The NFs in AL was recognized for being a leader in both forest and wildlife conservation in Alabama. "Working with numerous management partners, they devote countless hours and resources to restore vast areas of our national forests back to the historic longleaf pine ecosystem that once dominated Alabama's landscape. In the wildlife arena, they are leaders in the effort to recover the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and their efforts are providing beneficial examples that are being replicated on private lands in Alabama and the Southeast. The NFs in AL team is also assisting with native warm season grass establishment and re-introduction of Eastern indigo snakes once found in south Alabama. The NFs in AL team is also a leader in conservation education - promoting a land ethic for youth."