Thursday, December 15, 2011

December Meeting of WCNRC

WCNRC Hog Trapping Demonstration
The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on December 15th, at the Bankhead National Forest Office in Double Springs.  Members present were, Jeremy McDonald, Lorenzo Walton, James Burnett, Allison Cochran, Mike Henshaw, John Creed, Tom Counts, and Travis McDonald.

The following topics were discussed:
  • Invasive plant control-various sprayers used
  • Brown's Ferry Nuclear Power Plant Ingestion Pathway Exercise-James Burnett
  • "More Kids in the Woods" Grant Proposal-Allison Cochran
  • Auburn University School of Forestry Advisory Council Report-Tom Counts, AU Advisory Council Member
  • Future Outings Planned for Council-(Tentative Dates Below)
  • Center for Advanced Woodworking Technology in Haleyville-January 19, 2012
  • Cane Creek Preserve in Colbert County-April 19, 2012
  • Burnett Quail Farm near Addison-June 21, 2012
  • FAWN Program Article by Allison Cochran in Smith Lake Living magazine
After the general discussion, the group visited a variety of internet web pages such as Facebook sites, blogs focusing on feral hogs, and maps of hog activity in the region.  After discussing various possibilities, the group decided that more thought would be needed on how to create a good informational site related to feral hogs in this area.  Additional team members are needed that are knowledgeable about Facebook, and more help will be needed from the Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area.  Since new personnel are being hired at this time on the Black Warrior WMA, we'll wait to involve the new WMA manager in any future "hogblog" type effort.  For now, there will be additional links on hogs added to the WCNRC blog.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December WCNRC Meeting

The December meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 15, 2011, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  At the last meeting, there was some interest in looking into a "hogblog" or a similar effort to help educate the public about feral swine in the Bankhead area.  Such topics as control measures, hunting opportunities, damage maps, and other information about hogs would be available online for those interested in feral hogs.  At this meeting, the council will look at some possibilities to help get the word out about feral swine in this area.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

FAWN Program Featured in Smith Lake Living Magazine

The Winston County FAWN (Forestry Awareness Week Now) program was highlighted in the latest copy of Smith Lake Living magazine.  The article was written by Allison Cochran, and also features photos by the magazine's editor, Eddie Hand.  The FAWN program is featured prominently on the magazine's cover photo, on right.  We'll have a copy of the magazine on hand at the next council meeting.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Alabama Forestry Association Meetings

Mary Ellen Edwards asked me to help get the word out about these Alabama Forestry Association Meetings in our area.  Here is the information that she sent me:

December 6, Tuesday, Tuscumbia, AL
6:00 pm
Cost Share Program and Legislative Update
Meal provided
$5.00 for AFA members and $10.00 for non members
Bevill Center for Environmental Technology
1011 George Wallace Boulevard
Tuscumbia, AL

December 8, Thursday, Decatur, AL
6:00 pm
Cost Share Program and Legislative Update
Meal provided
$5.00 for AFA members and $10.00 for non members
McCollum’s Catfish and Seafood Restaurant
2101 Gordon Terry Parkway
Decatur, AL

Please confirm reservation with Lisa Martin 334 481-2120 or contact her with any questions.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rock Creek Watershed Project Meeting on December 6th

Please join the Rock Creek Stakeholder Group for the upcoming Rock Creek Watershed Management Project meeting on Tuesday, December 6th at 6pm in Addison, Alabama at the Community Center. We will be discussing recent project activities and will also plan activities for 2012.


For more information please contact Mona S. Dominguez by email srs0013@auburn.edu or call (334) 844-9323.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thank You Letter to the Bradley/Murphy Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Trust

The WCNRC Council has sent this thank you letter to the Bradley/Murphy Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Trust for their support of the North Region Forestry Field Day:

http://www.aces.edu/~henshmd/temp/Alabama Natural Resources Trust Thank You.pdf


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Minutes of the November WCNRC Meeting


The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs, on November 17, at 9:00 a.m.  Present were Jeremy McDonald, LaVerne Matheson, Carl Godsey, Allison Cochran, Tom Counts, John Creed, James Burnett, Mike Henshaw, and Elrand Denson.

LaVerne gave a report on two Smith Lake Clean Ups conducted by Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Incorporated (WCSLAI).  These Clean Ups were conducted by volunteers and residents with assistance from WCSLAI.  Tarrie Hyche provided dumpsters.  The Northwest Alabamian newspaper featured an article and news photo of the Clean Ups.  One more Clean Up is planned for this year.

LaVerne added that only 80 boat houses with white beaded foam remain on Smith Lake.  Since there are approximately 8,000 such structures on Smith Lake, there is only a small percentage that are in violation.  These are being turned over to Alabama Power's legal department for further action.

WCSLAI is also sponsoring a program on Boating Safety that will focus on boating rules and regulations.  The Coast Guard Flottilla on Smith Lake will offer free boat inspections to boat owners.  The goal of this program is to prevent boating accidents on Smith Lake.

Allison reported that about 10 acres of shoreline seeding had been completed to provide fish habitat and prevent erosion.

A discussion was held about the North Region Forestry Field Day evaluation.  Overall, evaluations were very positive.  Thanks to Tony Glover, Cullman County Extension Coordinator, for his help in designing and conducting the evaluation.

Tom Counts purchased 45 of the 60 hay bales that Wade Hill brought to the field day.  The remaining bales were too damaged to use and a few were left for Bill Snoddy to use.  The members present agreed to pay Wade $45 for those 15 bales at $3.00 each.  The bales were very useful for seating at the stations and for decorations. 

FAWN programs were discussed and it was agreed that they were successful and well received by the students and teachers.  It was noted that one afternoon "break" in the program needed to be removed.  Also, the guides should help get the students organized for the class photos to help streamline that chaotic process.  Allison noted that there might be a change next year with the administration of the recreation areas.  The Council may need to do more to prepare the Houston Recreation Area for the programs next year.

Jeremy McDonald said that another Junior Ranger Program for the Payne Creek Demo Area was in the works for next spring.  He will probably request some funding for the program early next year.

The poster that Travis McDonald developed for the WCNRC was posted on the bulletin board.  It was suggested that the Winston County Commission Logo be added.  Thanks to Travis and Apex Development for their help in developing and printing the poster.

Other items discussed included:
  • Browns Ferry Nuclear Excercise-Ingestion Pathway-December 8th
  • Rock Creek Watershed Meeting on December 6th in Addison at Addison Community Center
  • Nationwide Disaster Alert Excercise
  • Liaison Panel Meeting, December 1st, First National Bank Building, Double Springs, 6 p.m.
  • Jud Easterwood will be the replacement for Ron Eakes at the Department of Conservation
  • Update on vacant Black Warrior WMA Manager Position
  • Possible FAWN donation from Conservation Officers Association-Ernie Stephens
  • Local Emergency Planning Committee being organized according to James.
  • Road building and maintenance discussion with Winston County Commission and the WCSLAI
  • "Hog Blog" discussion
The next meeting will be held at the regular time and place, Thursday, December 15, but the focus will be on the potential to develop a so called "Hog Blog" as an information center for those interested in feral swine control and hunting opportunities.  We will review blogging, mapping with Google Maps and Bing Maps, Facebook, and other ways to address the need for information about wild hogs in this area.

Mike Henshaw, Secretary, WCNRC
CEC, Winston County Extension Office

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bankhead Liaison Panel Meeting Scheduled

The next meeting of the Bankhead Liaison Panel will be held Thursday, December 1, 2011, beginning at 6:00 PM at the First National Bank in Double Springs, AL.
The meeting topics will include:
• 2011 Bankhead National Forest Accomplishment Report
• Trails Update - Horse Trail Assessment, Sipsey Wilderness Trail Clearing & Sipsey Wilderness Ranger Program
• Rush-Brushy Watershed Action Plan
• Hardwood Restoration Workshop Highlights
Anyone interested in the management of the Bankhead National Forest is invited to attend this public meeting of the Liaison Panel.

Monday, November 14, 2011

November Meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council

The November meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 17th, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.
Hope to see you at the meeting.
Mike Henshaw
Secretary, WCNRC

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

First Nationwide Test of Emergency Alert System

(James Burnett, Winston County Emergency Management Director, asked me to post this information about a test of the Emergency Alert System.)  
As part of their ongoing efforts to keep our country and communities safe during emergencies, the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Emergency Management Agency will conduct the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The EAS test plays a key role in ensuring the nation is prepared for all hazards, and that the U.S. public can receive critical and vital information, should it ever be needed. The first nationwide test will be conducted Wednesday, November 9 at 1 p.m. CDT. This test will last 30 seconds, and will be transmitted via television and radio stations within the U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii, the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. Similar to local emergency alert system tests, an audio message will interrupt television and radio programming indicating: “This is a test.” When the test is over, regular programming will resume. For more information about the nationwide Emergency Alert System test, please visit http://www.fema.gov/medialibrary/media_records/6407 and www.FCC.gov. On November 9 at 1 p.m. CDT, please remember: Don’t stress; it’s only a test.
· FEMA Administrator’s Message – In English http://www.fema.gov/medialibrary/media_records/6407
· FEMA Administrator’s Message – In Spanish http://www.fema.gov/medialibrary/media_records/6408

Friday, October 28, 2011

FAWN Programs Held at Houston Recreation Area

The 2011 FAWN Programs were held at the Houston Recreation Area on October 20-21.  Here's a few facts about this year's FAWN Programs for Winston County's sixth graders:
  • Total number of students attending FAWN---376
  • Number of teachers---17
  • Number of volunteers---30
  • Number of buses and drivers---8
  • Cost of Bus Transportation---$1,052.88
The schools in attendance were Addison Elementary School, Double Springs Middle School, Haleyville Middle School, Lynn Elementary School, and Meek Elementary School.  Each class attended eight learning stations on GPS, Forest Management, Water Quality, Boating Safety, Wildlife Management or Hunter Safety, Forest Fire Safety, Forest Soils, and Beekeeping.

The bus transportation cost was covered by a grant from the Winston County Commission.

Thanks to all the students, teachers, school administrators, WCNRC members, volunteers, and presenters for teaming up to hold two successful FAWN programs.

Additional photos of the Addison, Meek, and Double Springs Schools are at this link.



Monday, October 17, 2011

Professional Logging Manager Initial Training to be held in Haleyville

A Professional Logging Manager Program Initial Training will be held in Haleyville at the Alabama Center for Advanced Woodworking Technology on November 3 and 17, 2011.  This class will not qualify for PLM Continuing Education points;  it is for the initial training only.  A registration form is available at this link.

Monday, October 10, 2011

2011 North Region Forestry Field Day


The 2011 North Region Forestry Field Day was held at Bill and Jeanie Snoddy's Loblolly Farm near Double Springs on October 7th.  There were over 100 people in attendance.  The field day featured commercial and educational exhibits, four learning stations, an awards program, and door prizes.  Lunch was provided by the Alabama Natural Resources Council and the Alabama State Tree Farm Committee.  Most of the local arrangements were completed by members of the Winston County Natural Resources Council.  Photos of the event are available at this link.  

According to our evaluation of the learning stations, participants reported an average 56% increase in knowledge about key concepts taught at the stations.  When questioned about how likely they were to implement practices demonstrated at the learning stations, 66% reported they would put the information to work.  While this is the first time that we've evaluated the learning stations in this way, the results are encouraging, and seem to indicate that some landowners will change the way they manage their forestland.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Forestry Awareness Week Now (FAWN) Dates

Paul Gilliland and Craig Moore teach Forest Fire Safety
The 2011 FAWN dates are scheduled for October 20-21, 2011, at the Houston Recreation Area in the Bankhead National Forest.  The Meek, Addison, and Double Springs sixth graders will attend on Thursday, October 20, and the Haleyville and Lynn schools will attend on the 21st.  Please put these dates on your calendar.  We'll be sending out draft schedules for both dates soon.  A walk-through will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 19, to setup.  Thanks in advance to all those that work toward the continued success of the FAWN program.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Photos from the Bankhead Liaison Panel Hardwood Restoration Workshop and Field Tour


Acorns gathered at a tour stop.

The Hardwood Restoration Workshop and Field Tour was held on Saturday, September 24th, 2011. It featured four experts in the field of hardwood restoration. The four panelists were Ben Prater, Associate Executive Director with Wild South; Dr. Luben Dimov, Assistant Professor at Alabama A&M University; Ed Loewenstein, Associate Professor at Auburn University; and Dr. Callie Schweitzer, Research Forester with the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station. After brief presentations by each of the four panelists, the participants visited five hardwood restoration sites on the field tour. After the tour, the group met back at the Black Warrior Work Center for a question and answer session.

The Hardwood Restoration Workshop and Field Tour was organized by the Bankhead Liaison Panel in cooperation with the Bankhead National Forest staff.

Additional photos from the Hardwood Restoration Workshop and Field Tour.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bankhead Liaison Panel Hardwood Restoration Workshop


The public is invited to a free workshop and field tour hosted by the Bankhead National Forest Liaison Panel on September 24, 2011.

The Hardwood Restoration Workshop and Field Tour will highlight the hardwood restoration goals and management techniques for Bankhead National Forest. Research scientists and professors specializing in silviculture and forest management will be guest speakers at the workshop. A field tour of the Bankhead National Forest will immediately follow the presentations.

The Hardwood Restoration Workshop will begin at 8:45 AM at the Black Warrior Work Center located on Highway 33 between Moulton and Double Springs, AL. The workshop will end by 5 PM. Participants are asked to dress appropriately to walk in the forest, bring lunch and drinking water. Contact Bankhead Ranger District at (205) 489-5111 to register.

Minutes of the September WCNRC Meeting


The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on September 15, 2011, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  In attendance were John Sudduth, Tim Albritton, LaVerne Matheson, Carl Godsey, Allen Varner, Johnna Franks, Chris Wright, Allison Cochran, Mike Henshaw, Jeremy McDonald, Tom Counts, John Creed, Tom Snoddy, Tony Avery, Jim Hughes, Elrand Denson, and Bill Snoddy.

Johnna stated that the balance in the treasury is $14,073.94.  Some of these funds are earmarked for specific activities, such as the fishing derby.

The FAWN dates are Thursday, October 20th, and Friday, October 21st, please mark your calendars for these important dates.  Mike Henshaw will prepare FAWN Programs and send them to all the participants.  

The following points were discussed about the North Region Forestry Field Day:
  • Commercial and Educational Vendors
  • Tables and Tents
  • Learning Station locations
  • Trailers
  • CFE’s
  • Awards Program
The next planning meeting for the field day will be on September 22nd at 9:30 a.m. at Loblolly Farm.

Tom Snoddy introduced himself as the Assign-A-Highway Program Manager.  He gave a brief report on the number of people enrolled in the program and the amount of litter cleaned from county roads.

Elrand noted that the Shortleaf Pine Symposium would be held on September 20-22.  The Hardwood Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, September 24th.

Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September Meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council

The September meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 15th, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.
Hope to see you at the meeting.
Mike Henshaw
Secretary, WCNRC

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Charlie Meek Retires from NRCS

I'm sure that many council members are aware that Charlie Meek has retired from the NRCS as of August 31st.  Charlie has been a key team member of the Winston County Natural Resources Council, and we will miss his contributions to the council.  His family has a blog called "A Meek Perspective", and there is a post about Charlie's retirement.  I think it is safe to say that everyone on the Winston County Natural Resources Council wishes Charlie all the best in retirement.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tom Snoddy Named as Program Manager of Winston County Assign-A-Highway Program

Tom Snoddy, Program Manager, Winston County Assign-A-Highway
Tom Snoddy is the new Program Manager of the Winston County Assign-A-Highway Program.  Tom is a resident of Double Springs, a University of Alabama graduate, and has over 20 years experience in corrections.  In this position, he will coordinate the work of citizens that have fines or court costs in Marion and Winston Counties.  Those that have fines or court costs can choose to pay them or to work them off by doing community service.  Participants get credit for each hour they work cleaning up county road rights-of-way.  Tom also hopes to encourage citizens to help clean up county roadways on a volunteer basis to improve the appearance of the county and to improve our environment.  Assign-A-Highway is a partnership of the Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments (NACOLG), Northwest RC & D Council, and the Winston and Marion County Commissions.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee

Tropical Storm Lee brought much needed rainfall to the county.  Charles Brannon, an Addison resident and volunteer observer with the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, recorded 6.81 inches of rain from Lee.  In Double Springs, I recorded 7.38 inches over the two day period.

More rainfall totals are available at http://www.cocorahs.org/

Monday, August 29, 2011

Help is Needed to Control Feral Hogs from Rooting up the Bankhead National Forest

Help is Needed to Control Feral Hogs from Rooting up the Bankhead National Forest

News Release
(Double Springs, Al) August 15, 2011 ---- A growing problem is facing land managers on the Bankhead National Forest and private landowners in northwest Alabama and feral hogs are at the root of it. Biologists with the U.S. Forest Service and the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division are noticing feral hogs invading the Bankhead National Forest and surrounding areas. They are encouraging hunters to help them with managing the populations by harvesting feral hogs when permissible opportunities arise.

“Feral hogs are nuisance animals that take a toll on native game animals, like deer and turkey, and cause extensive damage to the land and native plants,” says Allison Cochran, Bankhead National Forest wildlife biologist. “Their populations in the Bankhead are increasing rapidly, and we need help before the problem gets much worse,” added Cochran. Feral hogs damage crops and property by rooting and wallowing.

The feral hog population is concentrated in the northern portion of the national forest that includes the Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area (WMA). According to Elrand Denson, district ranger for the Bankhead National Forest, feral hogs are legal game that can be hunted. “We want hunters to understand the regulations for hunting feral hogs are different in the Bankhead National Forest and in Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area,” said Denson.

Within the Bankhead National Forest, it is legal to hunt feral hogs year round with a valid state hunting license; however, within the Black Warrior WMA, hunters may take feral hogs during any open hunting season with a permit, legal firearms and ammunition for that season. There is also a special feral swine season scheduled from September 3-18, 2011 and March 1-14, 2012 for the Black Warrior WMA. Trapping of feral hogs is currently not allowed in the Bankhead National Forest or within a wildlife management area. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on-line version of hunting regulations are located in the 2011-2012 Hunting Digest at http://www.outdooralabama.com/.

“Feral hogs are the number one enemy for native wildlife and plant species,” said Cochran. Recognized as non-native species, feral hogs compete with native wildlife species, like deer, raccoon, turkey, fox and squirrel for food, water and cover. They destroy native ecosystems and many areas experience erosion and water quality problems due to increase hog populations.

Please contact the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division at (256) 353-2634 for information on hunting in the Black Warrior WMA, and the Bankhead National Forest’s district office at 205-489-5111 for further information on hog hunting the national forest.

U.S. Forest Service Orders Fire Use Restrictions in Alabama’s National Forests

U.S. Forest Service Orders Fire Use Restrictions in Alabama’s National Forests

August 29, 2011 ---- USDA Forest Service Supervisor Steve Lohr recently signed an order that prohibits the use of fire in any location of a national forest without developed recreation site. Due to the dry weather conditions, the fire use restriction will be enforced in the Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega and Tuskegee National Forests. The public is restricted from using fire or building campfires outside of designated campsites, developed campgrounds and in any location of a national forest without developed recreation sites. The closure order goes into effect from August 29 until September 31.

Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega, and Tuskegee National Forests

1. Building, maintaining, attending, using a fire or campfire (wood or charcoal), or stove fire is prohibited.
36 CFR 261.52(a)

Exemptions to this prohibition are fires that are built at a developed recreation area within the designated fire rings. Additionally, the use of gas or liquid fuel type stoves or backpacking stoves will be allowed.

2. 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)

3. Possessing, discharging or using any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device is prohibited.
36 CFR 261.52(f)

Persons who are exempt from the order include:

1) Persons with a permit specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission. Pursuant to 36 CFR
261.50(e),

2) Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force, in the performance of
an official duty. Pursuant to 36 CFR 261.50(e)

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.

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.

North Region Forestry Field Day and TREASURE Forest Awards Program

The North Region Forestry Field Day and 2011 Helene Mosley Memorial TREASURE Forest Award will be held on Bill and Jeanie Snoddy's Loblolly Farm in Double Springs on Friday, October 7th. 
 
This program is one of three regional programs held across the state.
Loblolly Farm carries the special designation of Helene Mosley TREASURE Forest, which means that Bill and Jeanie Snoddy 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. 

The field day includes learning stations on landscaping for wildlife, herbicide applications for aesthetics, pond construction and management, and aesthetics for the forested landscape.

The program begins with registration at 8:30 a.m., followed by a tour featuring four learning stations. After lunch, the Alabama Natural Resources Council will present the TREASURE Forest Program Awards.   The program will conclude at 2:30 p.m. with door-prizes for participants.  Lunch is included and the program is free with registration before October 5th.   Register by calling (205) 489-5014.

A printable version of the flyer is available here:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Signup for Rock Creek Watershed Management Practices

Rock Creek Watershed Map
The Rock Creek Watershed Management Project would like to announce a 319 cost-share program for farmers and landowners in the Rock Creek Watershed in Winston and Cullman Counties. This project will help producers make farm improvements and also reduce runoff and prevent harmful bacteria from reaching local streams and creeks by installing best management practices (BMPs).
Practices to be funded include tree planting, grass planting, watering troughs, weed management in pastures and hayfields, feeding areas, cross fencing, riparian fencing, stream crossings, dry stacks and dead bird disposal systems. Applications will be funded on a first come basis. Sign up for the project will begin on September 6th and end September 16th. Applications will be available at the Cullman, Winston and Hamilton USDA Offices. For more info call Wade Hill at (205) 921-3103 EXT 3, or Mike Henshaw at (205) 489-5376.
A description of available practices is located at this link.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Minutes - August Council Meeting


The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on Thursday, August 18, 2011, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs. Present were: Ray Rice, Tony Avery, Carl Godsey, Mike Henshaw, Jim Hughes, John Creed, Johnna Franks, Chris Wright, Allen Varner, Jeremy McDonald, James Burnett, Tom Counts, and Elrand Denson.

Allen Varner and Dr. Ray Rice gave us some updates from the Alabama Natural Resources Council about the three regional field days that are being held across the state. A number of details are still being worked out at the state level, but all of the regional programs promise to be very educational.

The Council discussed a details regarding the Regional Field Day that will be held at Bill and Jeanie Snoddy's Loblolly Farm on Friday, October 7, 2011. Highlights from the discussion include:
  • An urgent task is the development of a flyer for the North Region Field Day. Mike Henshaw is responsible for this flyer. It will be posted online as soon as possible for review.
  • Another urgent task is reserving a large tent for the event, if possible. Tony Avery will check on getting a tent reserved as soon as possible.
  • An excellent slate of speakers is scheduled, and these will be detailed soon in the upcoming flyer.
  • Future planning meetings were scheduled: Friday, August 19th at 1:30 p.m. - Meet with Bill Snoddy about locations for parking, learning stations, meal, and awards program. September 1st, September 15th, and September 29th, will be the dates of additional planning meetings. Thursday, October 6th will be a set up day in preparation for the field day on Friday.
  • No "rain date" was selected due to the difficulty in rescheduling this event.
  • Commercial Vendors that have exhibits will be required to provide a $75-$100 value door prize. Allison Cochran was nominated as the Commercial Vendor coordinator.
Other items included:
  • Rock Creek Watershed Management Plan Best Management Practices Sign-Up will start on September 5th and end on September 16th. Further details will be posted in the blog and published in area newspapers.
  • FAWN Program discussion focused on getting dates set with the school systems and providing funding for FAWN t-shirts.
  • Johnna gave an overview of the Professional Logging Manager program held on August 12. There were 18 individuals that obtained Continuing Forester Education Credits, 41 individuals received Professional Logging Manager Points, and there were 24 speakers/volunteers. There was a total of 83 participants. Registration fees covered all costs for the program, with a small surplus for the treasury. The council voted to give $100 to the American Legion for the use of the Legion Hall.
  • Johnna said the balance in the treasury is $14,049.62
  • Elrand Denson gave the Council some details about the Shortleaf Symposium to be held in Huntsville on September 20-22. A field trip will be held in the Bankhead with lunch at Brushy Lake on the 21st. More information is available here.
  • Elrand announced the dates for the rescheduled Hardwood Restoration Workshop. It will be held on Saturday, September 24, 2011 at the Black Warrior Work Center at 9:00 a.m. Details are available at this link.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary
WCNRC

Hardwood Restoration Workshop on the Bankhead National Forest

Information from Ruby Gilbreath, Bankhead National Forest:
You are invited to attend the Bankhead Liaison Panel’s Hardwood Restoration Workshop and Field Tour on Saturday, September 24, 2011. This workshop will focus on the restoration of hardwood ecosystems. The Bankhead National Forest is nearing completion of the Forest Health and Restoration Project begun in 2004 and beginning the next steps in our restoration program. This workshop will highlight and describe some of the changes you are seeing in the Forest, especially as they relate to Bankhead hardwood restoration goals and objectives and the management techniques used to accomplish these. A panel of professionals including research scientists and professors specializing in hardwood silviculture and restoration will join us to explain the ecology and management of upland hardwood ecosystems.
The workshop will begin at the Black Warrior Work Center (Central Fire Lookout Tower) located on Highway 33 about 7 miles south of Wren, Alabama. The workshop is scheduled to begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. with a field tour following which should end by 5:00 p.m. This free workshop is open to the public for anyone who wishes to attend. Participants should plan for a day of walking in the forest and should bring their lunch and drinking water. Please try to arrive early to pick up printed materials and be ready to begin at 9:00 a.m. Participants should register for the Hardwood Restoration Workshop by calling the Bankhead National Forest at (205) 489-5111.

Update (8/22/11)  This program has been approved for 5 CFE's (Continuing Forester Education Credits).  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Meeting of the WCNRC

I apologize for the late notice, but our regular August meeting of the Council is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 18th, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs. 
 
Be sure to see the blog post on the Professional Logging Manager Program, if you have not already done so.
 
 
Thanks,
 
Mike Henshaw, Secretary
WCNRC

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Using Bing Maps to Calculate the Area of a Pond or Field

I was recently exploring the capabilities of Bing Maps, when I discovered that it could be used to calculate the area of a field or pond. Landowners often need an easy way to calculate the area of a field. Here's a video showing how to navigate to Bing Maps, and then how to calculate the area of a field, or in this case, a pond.



If you want to see the video with all the detail of what is being done on-screen, choose the 720HD option in the lower part of the screen and also turn on the "full screen" mode. That way, it will be full screen instead of a small window. Here's the link to the video, or you can click on the video above.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Professional Logging Manager Program

Keith Nichols, Nichols Dozier Service
The Professional Logging Manager Program was held on Friday, August 12th, at the American Legion Hall in Double Springs. The turnout of loggers and foresters was excellent with 62 paid participants and 24 speakers, exhibitors, and volunteers. Loggers received 6.0 Professional Logging Manager (PLM) Continuing Education Units (CEU's). Foresters could also receive CEU's for attending the program. The program focused on Best Management Practices in Forestry, Helicopter Landing Zone Procedures, Environmental Emergencies, and Invasive Species. Keith Nichols conducted a live waterbar construction demonstration on-site.  Air Evac landed their medical transport helicopter so participants could look at the aircraft and meet the crew.  There were also exhibits on Cogongrass, Quail Restoration, Sunsafety and Staying Hydrated, the Rock Creek Watershed Management Project, and Air Evac.

More photos from the program are available at this link:
https://picasaweb.google.com/116754646435358603296/ProfessionalLoggingManagerProgram#

Denise Mann, Air Evac Lifeteam

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rush Darter Receives Endangered Species Act Protection






News Release from the US Fish and Wildlife Service

Endangered Status for Five Southeastern Fish Species
August 9, 2011

Contacts:

Mary Jennings, Mary_E_Jennings@fws.gov, 931/525-4973
Denise Rowell, Denise_Rowell@fws.gov, 251/441-6630
Tom MacKenzie, Tom_MacKenzie@fws.gov, 404/679-7291

The Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, chucky madtom, and laurel dace are now federally-listed as endangered throughout their respective ranges. The listing of these five fish species as endangered becomes effective on September 8, 2011, 30 days following today’s publication in the Federal Register.

The Cumberland darter occurs in Kentucky and Tennessee, the rush darter in Alabama, the yellowcheek darter in Arkansas, and the chucky madtom and laurel dace in Tennessee.

The Cumberland darter is only found in the upper Cumberland River system above Cumberland Falls in Kentucky and Tennessee. Historically, this species inhabited 21 streams in the upper Cumberland River system. Now, the Cumberland darter survives in short reaches of less than one mile along 12 streams.

The rush darter is only found in the Tombigbee-Black Warrior drainage in Alabama. It continues to have a presence in three watersheds: the Turkey Creek watershed (Jefferson County); the Clear Creek watershed (Winston County); and the Cove Creek watershed (Etowah County). However, the fish has a more limited distribution within these watersheds.

The yellowcheek darter is found in the Little Red River basin in Arkansas. Although yellowcheek darters still inhabit most streams within their historic range, they exist in greatly reduced population numbers in the Middle, South, Archey, and Beech forks of the Little Red River.

A small catfish, the chucky madtom is found in the upper Tennessee River system in Tennessee. Currently, only three chucky madtoms have been collected from one stream, Little Chucky Creek, since 2000.

The laurel dace was historically found in seven streams on the Walden Ridge portion of the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. Currently, laurel dace’s population is found in six of the seven streams that were historically occupied, but in shorter reaches. In these six streams, laurel dace are known to occupy reaches of approximately 0.2 to 5 miles in length.

The ranges and abundance of these five fishes seriously declined due to changes in their stream habitats resulting from mining, agriculture, reservoir construction, channelization, urban sprawl, pollution, sedimentation, and incompatible forestry practices.

The designation of critical habitat also is prudent for all five fishes and will be proposed in the Federal Register following the final listing. A 60-day comment period will follow publication of the proposed critical habitat rule in the Federal Register at which time the public can provide comments and request public hearings.

All five fishes were candidates for listing as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The Cumberland darter was first identified as a candidate for listing in the 1985 Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR), and the rush darter became a listing candidate in the 2002 CNOR. The yellowcheek darter was included in the 2001 CNOR, the chucky madtom in the 1994 CNOR, and the laurel dace in the 2007 CNOR.

Federal agencies that undertake, fund or permit activities that may affect endangered species are required to consult with the Service to ensure such actions do not adversely affect or jeopardize the continued existence of the species.

For more information about these five species and a summary of the factors affecting them, please refer to today’s notice in the Federal Register.

Copies of the final rule are available by contacting Mary Jennings, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 446 Neal Street, Cookeville, Tennessee, 38501, telephone 931/525-4973; facsimile 931/528-7075). The final rule also is available on the Fish and Wildlife Service’s website at http://www.fws.gov/cookeville/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Storm Relief Efforts Highlighted on USDA Blog

John Sudduth talks with producer in Hackleburg.
Wade Hill, District Conservationist with NRCS, told me about a USDA blog post featuring the storm relief efforts for the tornado victims in Northwest Alabama.  Here is a link to the blog post.  To date, over $20,000 worth of fencing supplies have been delivered to livestock producers in Northwest Alabama.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July Council Minutes


The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs on Thursday, July 21, 2011. Present were: Allison Cochran, LaVerne Matheson, Mike Henshaw, John Creed, Johnna Franks, Chris Wright, Carl Godsey, James Burnett, and Wade Hill. Johnna reported that the balance in the treasury was $6,877.76. The following items of business were discussed:
  • James Burnett updated the council on the status of the grant proposal that is under consideration at the Winston County Commission. He said that he would check on the proposal this week, but did not foresee any problems. There may be some time left in the 45 day waiting period.
  • Johnna reviewed the Professional Logging Manager Program scheduled for Friday, August 12. There have currently been 12 registrations and approximately 50 are expected. Council members that can assist with the program should plan on arriving at 7:30 a.m. to help with meeting set up.
  • Johnna had an excellent cover photo on Alabama's Treasured Forests Magazine. In the photo, Chris Wright is operating the tractor to move storm debris.
  • Wade Hill noted that the storm relief for cattle producers in Northwest Alabama continues. The Winston County Cattlemen's Association has coordinated the delivery of approximately $20,000 worth of fencing supplies so far, and $5,000 more in donations are likely. Several WCNRC members have been involved in this effort.
  • Wade also noted that the NRCS has allocated $310,000 in special EQIP funds to help farmers in Marion County.
  • EQIP applications are needed from Winston County landowners. There are many practices such as privet control, kudzu control, water for livestock, pasture weed control, high use areas, stream crossings, prescribed fire, site preparation, etc. that are eligible. Wade said that there were relatively few applications at this point, and that the batching period for this year ends on September 30. Interested producers should apply before that date. Approximately $100,000 are expected to conduct EQIP practices in Winston County.
  • Allison Cochran said that the Forest Service was conducting a Tornado Salvage Sale of 250 acres. She encouraged any interested loggers to contact the Forest Service about the sale.
  • LaVerne Matheson told us about future lake cleanups sponsored by Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. and will provide a barge for debris removal, trash bags, and disposal sites. Individual lake homeowners, their families, and neighbors will work together to provide the labor to pickup debris. Details are posted on their blog.
  • Allison reported on efforts by the Wild Turkey Federation to work with private landowners to encourage wild turkey and quail conservation practices. She added that Jody Holdbrooks, a Haleyville resident, has been hired by the Federation as a wildlife biologist.
  • Carl Godsey inquired about the status of the Flattened Musk Turtle study that is being conducted on Smith Lake. He said that Alabama Power's permitting process for putting riprap on shorelines had been suspended.
  • FAWN Program details. Johnna will contact the Winston County School Board and Mike will contact the Haleyville Board. A date will be set as early as possible.
  • Chris Wright updated the group on the Helene Mosley TREASURE Forest Award Program scheduled for Friday, October 7th. Commercial vendors are being sought, if possible, they should agree to provide a $50 to $100 door prize for the event. Learning stations include Development of Loblolly Farm, Pond Construction, Landscaping for Wildlife, and Aesthetic Considerations when Developing Forestland. The program will also feature an award ceremony and recognition of forestland owners.
  • James Burnett mentioned that a new tick-borne disease is causing concern. The disease causes the victim to have a severe food allergy to meat.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Winston County 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Team


Three 4-H members from Winston County recently competed in the State 4-H Wildlife Judging Contest held at the College of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences in Auburn. The team placed third out of nine junior teams at the two day event. 4-H'ers were evaluated on their knowledge of wildlife identification, wildlife foods, management practices, and wildlife management plans. Pictured from left to right are Caleigh Cook, Sarah Mauldin (both attend Meek Elementary) and Will Gunnin (Addison Elementary). Jay Conway, Regional Extension Agent for Winston and Cullman Counties, worked with the team to help them learn about wildlife habitat evaluation. The Winston County Natural Resources Council sponsored the team's trip to Auburn by covering the registration fees and lodging for the 4-H'ers and their families. For more information on the 4-H Wildlife Judging team contact the Winston County Extension Office at 205-489-5376. Congratulations to the 4-H'ers on their successful team effort. (Photo by Jay Conway)

Thinning Stands with the Brown Tree Cutter

I recently visited Jerry Clark on his farm in Winston County. Mr. Clark is a retired extension agent, and also the father of Kerry Clark, the Fire Management Officer on the Bankhead National Forest. Mr. Clark was using the Brown Tree Cutter to thin some overstocked loblolly pine stands on his property. This machine is manufactured in Oxford, Alabama, and it is designed to be mounted on a standard 3-point tractor hitch. It cuts through three-inch diameter pines with ease, and can cut up to eight-inch diameter trees. The operation of the cutter requires a great deal of skill and attention on the part of the operator. The cutter is pushed into the trees by operating the tractor in reverse. This is a fatiguing position for the tractor operator. The cut trees fall on the cutter, and the shear volume of material makes it difficult to see the cutting head. A "forestry package" for the tractor, which includes shields for the windows, underside, hood, and roof, is absolutely essential to avoid damage. The results are very positive; a thinned stand that will result in a healthier forest and better wildlife habitat.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

WCNRC Meeting on Thursday, July 21st

The July meeting of the WCNRC will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 21, 2011, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.
 
Look forward to seeing you on Thursday.
 
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Alabama Forest Recovery Task Force Meetings

Damaged Trees in Hackleburg
The Alabama Forest Recovery Task Force will hold a series of meetings from July 18-28 to provide information and help for landowners who saw their timber damaged or destroyed in the storms of April 15 & 27. Meetings will include program sessions from state and federal agencies designed to help landowners work through the recovery and clean-up process. The agenda will cover salvage operations, fire and insect damage considerations, reforestation, government assistance, and tax implications.

These meetings will be held at six locations around the state. The closest meeting location for Winston County landowners is in Cullman on Tuesday, July 19th.

The meeting times will be 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at each location. A detailed listing of the meeting locations is available here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Professional Logging Manager Workshop Scheduled for August 12, 2011

A Professional Logging Manager Workshop is scheduled for Friday, August 12, 2011, in Double Springs. The program will feature speakers on Best Management Practices for Forestry, Forest Road Construction, Helicopter Landing Zones, Recognition and Treatment of Common Injuries, and Invasive Species Control Measures.

Click here for a detailed copy of the program.

A printable copy of the registration form is available here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

GPS 101: Technology for Better Land and Water Management

A class will be held in Cullman on July 28, 2011, about using the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to better manage natural resources.  Some of the topics include:
  • Overview basic Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
  • Review various GPS systems and the management options and uses they can provide landowners, WaterWatch volunteers, etc.
  • Overview of free or inexpensive software that can be used with the GPS to develop maps.
  • Hands-on training with Garmin GPS units.
  • Hands-on training with low-cost GIS software.
  • Quick review of Google maps, Google Earth, and Picasa.
 Here's a link to a flyer that outlines the program and the registration.

Participants that live in, work in, or assist residents in the Rock Creek Watershed can request a scholarship that will cover the $30 registration fee.  This scholarship is being offered by the Alabama Water Watch Program in support of the Rock Creek Watershed Management Project.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Income Tax Deduction for Timber Casualty Loss

Damaged Timber in Hackleburg
  
Recent storms damaged a great deal of timber in Northwest Alabama. Some landowners had devastating losses where entire stands of timber were leveled, and often little can be done to salvage what's left. Landowners that had timber losses may want to consider the income tax deduction for timber casualty losses. This two-page publication from Dr. Linda Wang, National Timber Taxation Specialist-USDA Forest Service, gives tips on how to determine the loss, how to report it, and how to keep supporting documentation for your records.  For a PDF of the publication, follow this link.
Timber Casualty Loss Deduction

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June Council Meeting Minutes

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on June 16th, 2011, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  The following members were present:  Jeremy McDonald, Travis McDonald, Tom Counts, James Burnett, Lorenzo Walton, Elrand Denson, Allison Cochran, Carl Godsey, and Mike Henshaw.

Travis McDonald, Wildlife Biologist,  is a new employee with the Bankhead National Forest and will be working with Allison Cochran, District Wildlife Biologist.  Lorenzo Walton, has previously worked on the Bankhead as an intern, and now has a position as a Forestry Layout Trainee.

Johnna Franks and Chris Wright could not attend due to an AFC meeting in Decatur.  However, they sent word that the balance in the Treasury was $7,126.45.  They also noted that they were seeking speakers on aesthetics and recreation at the TREASURE Forest Awards Program to be held on October 7, 2011, at Bill and Jeanie Snoddy's TREASURE Forest near Double Springs.

Allison Cochran gave a report on the Youth Fishing Derby.  65 youth attended, which does not include all the parents or volunteers that hosted the event.  This number of youth is ideal because the youth can spread out on the pond bank and still have plenty of room to fish.  She reported that the event cost about $2,000 to hold.  Those funds came from a variety of sources this year, with the WCNRC providing about $1,000.  She noted that the event would not be possible without the support of the Conservation Officers Association, the Double Springs Lions Club, and the WCNRC.

Other topics discussed:
  • A couple reported seeing a Black Bear on County Road 2 in Winston County.  The bear was raiding garbage cans.  The nighttime photos of the bear are not clear, but do support their account.  Other sitings have been reported in Blount County, Jefferson County, and Marion County.
  • New Extension Publications:  Lost, Abandoned, or Orphaned Deer Fawns and Common Birds of Prey in Alabama.
  • A GPS 101 Workshop will be held in Cullman County on July 28, 2011.  Participants associated with the Rock Creek Watershed will be eligible for a scholarship that will cover the $30 registration fee.
  • A Smith Lake Cleanup will be held this Friday and Saturday, June17-18.  The main headquarters will be at Clear Creek Boat Ramp with other sites at Yellow Creek and Lakeshore.  
  • Mr. Carl Godsey stated that the Winston County Cattlemen's Picnic will be held on Saturday, June 18th.
  • Forever Wild Amendment discussion.  A state-wide vote will be held on extending the Forever Wild Program.
  • The AFC is holding a sign up for the Prescribed Burning and Hazardous Fuel Reduction Program.  Winston County landowners are encouraged to sign up for this program if they are interested in prescribed burning or mulching on their property.  There were only two applications from Winston County in 2010.  Deadline to apply is June 30th.
  • Jeremy McDonald reported on the district's efforts to control invasive plants such as privet, mimosa, and kudzu.  Special emphasis has been placed on limestone glades where invasives have encroached on critical habitat.
  • Elrand updated the council on the new National Forest Supervisor in Alabama, Steve Lohr.  He will be visiting the Bankhead soon to meet with employees here.  He also said that they were working on budgets for the Bankhead District, had met with Mississippi State forestry students, and are completing the steps to hold a salvage operation from storm damage.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary
WCNRC
http://wcnrc.blogspot.com/