Monday, March 28, 2011

Haleyville 4-H Club Conducts PALS Cleanup of Haleyville Park

A Haleyville 4-H Club takes part in the statewide Partners Against a Littered State (PALS) cleanup of a Haleyville City Park.  This effort was a partnership between the Haleyville 4-H Club, Winston County Office of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, PALS, and the Winston County Assign-A-Highway Program.  Special thanks to James Conway, 4-H Regional Extension Agent, for organizing the event, and to Crystal Till, Program Manager with the Winston County Assign-A-Highway Program, for providing T-shirts and plastic bags for the program.

Lohr Named Forest Supervisor for National Forests in Alabama

Steven Lohr, a District Ranger from the National Forests in North Carolina, will be the new Forest Supervisor for the National Forests in Alabama, according to Liz Agpaoa, Regional Forester for the Southern Region.

“I am very pleased to announce Steve’s selection,” Agpaoa said. “He has worked in the south and southwest as a biologist and line officer. With his varied experiences, I know our employees and partners in Alabama can expect great things under his leadership.”

The National Forests in Alabama, based in Montgomery, is comprised of four national forests covering 667,000 acres in 17 counties. 

Lohr, who since 2008 has been District Ranger on the Tusquitee and Cheoah Ranger District on the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina, will report to Alabama on May 9.

Growing up on the South Carolina coast and working in the southern Appalachians, Lohr said he has a great appreciation for longleaf pine and mountain hardwood forests. Alabama is a perfect fit because it offers both, he said.

“I look forward to working with the unique management challenges on these forests,” Lohr said. “I also am very excited about working with employees and partners to continue the good work there.”

Prior to his assignment in North Carolina, Lohr was forest wildlife biologist on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. Before that, he worked as a wildlife program leader for the Francis Marion National Forest in South Carolina. He also has worked as a wildlife biologist for the US Air Force at Shaw Air Force Base and for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, a research assistant at Clemson University and a research biologist at Northern Arizona University. Lohr has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Lander University and a master’s degree in zoology from Clemson University.

Lohr and his wife, Stacy, have been married for 13 years and have three children: Malia, 8, Sam, 5 and Will, 3. An avid mountain biker, Lohr and his family also enjoy hiking and camping.  Lohr’s brother lives in Mobile, Ala., so he is looking forward to more family gatherings in the near future.

Minutes of the March Council Meeting

Johnna Franks, Treasurer, called the meeting to order.  Present were:  Carl Godsey, Bill Snoddy, Johnna Franks, LaVerne Matheson, Mike Henshaw, and Jim Hughes.  Johnna reported that the balance in the treasury was $8,115.74.

Johnna also reported on the Arbor Week Tree Event at the Alabama Forestry Commission Office.  The Council made about $500 on the sale of the fruit plants, and the rest of the trees were available free-of-charge.  There was a strong demand for both the free trees and the fruit trees.  She noted that it was hard to gauge demand from year to year, and this year more fruit trees would have been sold had they been available.

The Council is applying for a $500 grant for the FAWN program from the Alabama Forests Forever Foundation.

James Burnett, EMA Director, reported on the 2011 Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant drill that will be held this spring.

A tour focusing on hardwoods will be held on Saturday, April 30th, in the Bankhead National Forest.

Jim Hughes reported on a project to plant eastern red cedar trees at the walking track in Double Springs.

The Council discussed tentative plans to hold the Helene Mosley TREASURE Forest Award Program at Loblolly Farm on Friday, October 7th.  Bill and Jeanie Snoddy have agreed to allow the Council to use their TREASURE forest as the site of the 2011 Award Program, which will be one of three held statewide.  Please mark your calendar, as this will be a major project for our council hosting landowners from across North Alabama.  Johnna said Chris Wright would be the lead organizer of the event.

The Alabama Forestry Commission is announcing the sign up dates for the Fire Hazard Mitigation Program that allows landowners to get cost-share funds to implement the use of prescribed fire and mulching to reduce fuel loads on Alabama forestland.  The signup begins May 2nd and ends May 31st.  Prescribed fire can be applied to 10-80 acres, or up to five acres can be mulched.  Landowners must own less than 250 acres total to be eligible for the program.

LaVerne announced the Slough Cleanup that will be sponsored by Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. on April 30th.  Details are here.  Another cleanup is planned for June.  Laverne also reported on the March Bacteria Blitz, the Rock Creek Watershed Management Grant, and the signs for the tributaries on Smith Lake.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Controlling Tick Problems Around the Home

American Dog Tick-Adult Stage
Ticks are a problem all over Winston County. They are very common in wooded areas, pastures, fields, brushy areas, and sometimes even become common in our lawns and landscapes.  There are over 800 species of ticks worldwide. Fortunately only about 8 of them are found in North America; these include the American dog tick, the lone star tick, deer tick and the brown dog tick.  Ticks are technically not insects; they are arthropods with closer ties to spiders than insects. Adult ticks have 8 legs, although in the larval stage they have only have 6 legs. These larval stage ticks are often called “seed ticks”. 

The American dog tick is the most common tick in Alabama. In the southern U. S. this tick is active most of the year, which means we have more opportunities to encounter it. These ticks are small, adults are about ¼” long, red-brown in color, with a body that is flat and tear-drop shaped. This tick can be a carrier of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which has been confirmed in Alabama.

Ticks are adept hitch-hikers. They don’t travel far on their own steam, but can be carried for miles by animals and birds.

I’m sometimes asked what is a tick good for? Even though people hate ticks, they are part of nature’s food chain, providing food for several species of birds that catch them in the fields or even pick them off an animal’s body.

As is the case with many pests, whether animal or plant, one solution is to use an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to controlling their impacts. IPM involves using a range of control methods instead of relying only on one. IPM for ticks includes activities such as: treating pets with products labeled for tick control; treating their bedding for ticks; fastening garbage cans to discourage wildlife such as raccoons, opossums and squirrels from feeding near your home; trimming shrubs and cutting grass along paths frequented by animals, as these actions decrease contact between parasite (tick) and host (dog or human). Insecticides can be used to control ticks, but no product is going to entirely remove them. Ticks are part of our environment; their eradication is not practical – their reduction and management is.

Minimizing human exposure to tick bites is another tactic we can employ as part of an IPM program. Tick bites can cause reactions that include itching and possibly a rash around the bite spot. Therefore, if you’re gardening or working in areas with substantial underbrush, dressing appropriately is advisable. Dress entirely in light colored clothing as the dark ticks will show up better. Applying an insect repellent containing DEET to shoe tops, around the waist, and on exposed skin will also help.

Generally, ticks must be attached for several hours before diseases can be passed from tick to host, so removing ticks promptly can reduce chances of contacting disease. To remove a tick, use a pair of finely pointed tweezers, firmly grasp the tick as close as you can to where it’s attached. Immediately disinfect the bite with rubbing alcohol or iodine. If possible, avoid removing ticks with your bare fingers as a tick that is crushed is more likely to introduce a disease.

The publication “Tactics for Tick Control” is available for review at and can be downloaded, or you may contact our office at 489-5376 for more information.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Article about Winston County Soil Survey

Eddie Davis, a Soil Scientist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, has written an article about the Winston County Soil Survey.  The article was published in the Wednesday, March 16th edition of the Winston County News.  In the article, Davis states that Winston County is one of four counties that does not have a published soil survey.  The soil survey for Winston County is in progress, and it is 90 percent complete.  In 2011, the mapping team will be working in the Arley and Black Pond areas.  As the team completes its work, they will be contacting landowners for permission to check soils on their property.  If you have any questions about the Winston County Soil Survey, contact Eddie Davis at (256) 372-4428.

A Granddaughter for John and Maureen Creed

John Creed just sent us a note about a new member of his family:

"I will miss Thursday's meeting.  I am in Mississippi welcoming my new granddaughter born today.  Her name is Abigail Kathryn Hoober, 8lbs. 2oz. and 20 inches long. All are doing fine." 
Congratulations to John and Maureen on the birth of their granddaughter.

Photos from a Prescribed Burn in Winston County

Recently we conducted a prescribed burn on my forestland near Double Springs.  My plans were to conduct a burn every three years, but the last one was four years ago, so this one was a year behind schedule.  This practice was funded in part through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's Hazard Mitigation program, which is administered by the Alabama Forestry Commission.  Tom Counts, a member of the WCNRC and a certified burn manager, was the contractor for the grant.  His company, Conservation Services of Alabama (CSA), provides services such as prescribed burning to landowners.  Prescribed burning is a lot of work, but it reduces the risk of devastating wildfire, increases wildlife forage, improves timber stand growth, and improves the forest's aesthetics.  Here's a collection of photos that were made during the prescribed burns.  Thanks to Tom, Debbie, Rebecca, and Bart for all the hard work that led to a safe and successful prescribed fire that met all the goals that we had for the project. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Walker County Grazing Clinic

A grazing clinic will be held in Walker County at the Carl Elliott Board of Education Building on April 28, 2011 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. with registration check in at 8:00 a.m. The registration fee for attending this clinic will be $30.00 and must be paid by April 15, 2011. Included in the registration fee will be a copy of Southern Forages, a forage measuring stick, additional educational materials as well as lunch. You can click on the registration brochures above for additional information. Please call the NRCS Jasper Field Office or The Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District at (205) 387-1879 for registration or questions.

March Council Meeting-Thursday, March 17th

The March meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 17th, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

WCSLAI Sponsors Smith Lake Slough Cleanup on Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Incorporated (WCSLAI) is promoting a slough clean up on Smith Lake on Saturday, April 30th.  LaVerne Matheson sent me this flyer that lists information about the event.  It gives details about the clean up, lists information about their next public meeting, and has a membership form.  LaVerne tells me that WCSLAI members plan to post these flyers on boat houses and docks to inform lake residents about the clean up.