The Annual Arbor Week Tree distribution was held on Tuesday, February 22nd, and it was a very well attended event. Thousands of trees were distributed to over 100 people. Most of the trees available are free, but there are a few fruit plants that are available for sale to cover the expense of those plants. There are a limited number of species available while supplies last. Call Chris or Johnna at (205) 489-5014 to check availability.
The Junior Ranger Program was held on February 18th, at the Payne Creek Demonstration Area in the Bankhead National Forest near Double Springs. Students attended five learning stations and completed challenges required by the Junior Ranger Program. The program was sponsored by the Bankhead National Forest, Alabama A & M University, the Winston County Extension Office, and the Winston County Natural Resources Council.
The February Council meeting was held on the 18th at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs. Present were James Burnett, Carl Godsey, LaVerne Matheson, and Mike Henshaw. Several other council members were out on prescribed fire details due to the favorable weather conditions. The following items were discussed:
Discussion of Best Management Practices (BMP's) in logging and water quality.
TREASURE Forest Helene Mosley Award nominations due.
Arbor Week Tree Sale to be held on Tuesday, February 22nd, at 9:00 a.m., at the Forestry Commission Office. Council members are urged to come 30 to 45 minutes early to help organize the sale. Since the trees are free this year, there may be a bigger demand than last year. More information is available at this link.
James Burnett, County EMA Director, announced two training class that will be taught in coming weeks. On March 3rd, a Storm Spotter Class will be held at the Arley Fire Station at 6:00 p.m. The public is welcome to attend. On March 15th, a Basic Radiation Class will be taught at the Double Springs Municipal Building at 7:00 p.m. This class will be targeting first responders, law enforcement officers, and public health officials. James also said two important emergency drills will happen this summer, the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant drill and an earthquake drill.
LaVerne Matheson announced the Alabama River Alliance's Water Rally at Camp McDowell on March 11-13th. He also detailed the plans for the WCSLAI Lake Cleanup on April 30th. Lake residents will be recruited for the cleanup.
A Bacteria Blitz by Alabama Water Watch is planned for March 15th.
Poisoning of the Toomer's Corner Live Oak Trees.
The Junior Ranger Program will be held at the Payne Creek Demonstration Area on Friday, February18th. The council is helping sponsor the program by providing the funding for the bus transportation for the Double Springs Middle School sixth grade students and teachers.
Dr. Stephen Enloe, an Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor at Auburn University, has written a fact sheet about the poisoning of the two live oak trees at Toomer's Corner in Auburn. Click on this link to see the fact sheet.
WCNRC members Allison Cochran and Barry Baird were recently interviewed on a WAFF TV report about feral swine in the Bankhead National Forest. A special hunt for feral hogs is scheduled for March 1-14.Click on this link to see the video report:
Also, the Decatur Daily newspaper published an article quoting Ron Eakes, Allison Cochran, Barry Baird, James Horsley, Elrand Denson, Dr. Charles Borden, Ronald Britnell, and James Rau. All were questioned about feral swine in the Bankhead National Forest. The link to this report is here.
A training session will be provided for those needing to renew their pesticide permit or for those who are interested in getting their first pesticide permit. This program will be held on Tuesday, February 22, 2011, at 6:00 p.m. at the First National Bank Building in Double Springs. During this session participants will be given training for free; however, for those who choose to take the test there is a $25.00 charge for the three-year permit. There is also the option to use a take home self-study packet at any time of year. Most people find it more convenient to attend this class. To determine when your permit expires, check the first four digits on your card. For example, if the code is 0313, this would mean that the permit expires in March 2013.
Most farmers in Winston County get this permit so that they can buy Grazon (2,4-D + picloram) for pasture weed control. This herbicide does an excellent job on dogfennel (summer cedar). This permit will allow farmers to buy any restricted use pesticide.
Please contact the Winston County Extension office at 205 489-5376 with any questions.
Free trees will be available for the 2011 Arbor Week event on Tuesday, February 22nd, in Double Springs. A flyer produced by Johnna Franks at the Alabama Forestry Commission details the event and tree species availability. A printable version is available at this link.
The National Wild Turkey Federation's Sipsey Strutters (Lawrence County Chapter) has set their Annual Hunting Heritage Banquet for February 22, 2011. The Banquet will be held at the Moulton Rec Center and begins at 6 PM on Thursday, Feb. 22. Contact Stanley Coan at 256.566.6204 for more information or tickets. The banquet includes both live and silent auctions and a dinner. All proceeds support the National Wild Turkey Federation's critical conservation and hunting heritage mission.
Alabama PALS (People Against a Littered State) has contacted Winston County asking for the county's participation in its 2011 "Don't Drop it on Alabama" Statewide Spring Clean-up, scheduled for April 16-23. Aside from having statewide participation, the goal is to have citizens in each county get involved in beautifying the appearance of the county and state roadsides in the area by picking up roadside litter.
Crystal Till, program manager for Assign-A-Highway said, "On behalf of the County Commission office I am reaching out to civic organizations, clubs, etc. county-wide to coordinate our county's participation." There is no expense to participate other than investment of time. PALS provides trash bags and t-shirts.
PALS needs to know the number of participants by March 1 to get supplies sent out by March 15.
Any group wishing to participate, and for more information, contact Crystal Till at (205) 489-8887 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally we ask that each participating group take a few pictures while they are working and report the area cleaned and the number of bags collected. We will use this information to report back to PALS and get the info in our local news.
Jim Wilson has devised an innovative use for kudzu vines; he makes baskets of all shapes and sizes including “half baskets” for hanging on walls. Wilson has been making these baskets for over 15 years. He’s had many offers to purchase them, but he prefers to craft them for his own use and as gifts to friends. While he suffers from rheumatoid arthritis in his hands, he is still able to weave the baskets from green vines collected near his home in Arley. Mr. Wilson also makes jelly from kudzu blooms, which he says produces a delicious purple jelly. He decided to bring a basket by the Winston County Extension Office after noticing a publication about controlling kudzu.
I was looking at the 2010 Regional Extension Natural Resources Awards Results and was very impressed with one of the Gold Award Winners-A Guide to Successful Wildlife Food Plots: Blending Science with Common Sense. This 164 page publication goes into a great deal of detail on foodplots. Almost all information in the publication would be appropriate for Winston County and many other areas in North Alabama. The publication was written by Craig A. Harper, a Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist at the University of Tennessee. This $20 publication is available at no cost at the above link.
Annually, Alabama Power Company and Bankhead National Forest staff place sunken fish structures in sloughs and along banks at one of the Forest Service's three Recreation Areas on Smith Lake. Bundled Christmas trees or bamboo structures are put in Smith Lake to improve fish habitat and improve fishing opportunities. These structures immediately attract small fish, which in turn attract larger fish like bass and crappie.
On January 31, Alabama Power and Bankhead partners placed about 60 structures at the Clear Creek Recreation Area. Sites where fish structures are located are recorded by GPS and available by visiting www.alabamapower.com/lakes/home.asp.
Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area Wildlife Biologist and Area Manager Barry Baird estimates that deer hunters harvested 74 feral swine during the 2010/2011 deer season. Hunters are encouraged to harvest feral swine when any legal opportunity arises.
Feral swine are non-native nuisance animals that compete with native wildlife for habitat. Feral swine cause extensive damage to property and crops by rooting and wallowing. They are a growing problem on the Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area and Bankhead National Forest.
Even though deer hunting season has come to an end, there are still opportunities to take feral swine. On Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area, feral swine may be harvested through squirrel season which ends on February 28 using shotguns with No. 4 shot or smaller or .22 caliber or smaller rimfire firearms. On Bankhead National Forest there is no closed season on feral swine.
Hunters interested in feral swine can stop by the Black Warrior WMA headquarters or contact the Bankhead National Forest District Office at 205.489.5111.