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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June Council Meeting

The monthly meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 16th, 2011, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

The Youth Fishing Derby was held this past Saturday, and I've heard that it went very well with over 60 people taking part. There were several WCNRC members assisting, and we also provided funding for this youth event. If any council members that assisted are in attendance at our meeting, we'll look forward to a detailed report.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Mike Henshaw

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fire Danger Prompts the Forest Service to Issue Fire Closures in Alabama’s National Forests

News Release

Fire Danger Prompts the Forest Service to Issue Fire Closures in Alabama’s National Forests

Montgomery, AL (June 8, 2011) ---- With fire danger being extremely high, the USDA Forest Service has issued a fire closure throughout Alabama’s national forests that includes that Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega and Tuskegee. Forest Supervisor Steve Lohr signed an order that prohibits the use of fire or campfires in any location of a national forest without developed recreation sites. National Forest visitors also are restricted from using fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices. The closure order goes into effect from June 7 until September 31.
According to Forest Supervisor Steve Lohr, Alabama is experiencing a severe drying condition and fire danger is extremely high. Dry conditions increase the chance and intensity of a wildfire. A build-up of fuels, such as dead trees and brush, when combined with drought, causes a tinderbox. The moisture content of living and dead plants are so low, that any spark, ember, or other ignition sources that touch these plants is virtually certain to ignite and unwanted wildland fire.
“This fire season is expected to become longer and more difficult; so teamwork is essential in preventing wildfires and improving the safety of the public and firefighters,” said Lohr. Forest visitors can help prevent wildfires by checking spark arrestors on off-road vehicles and other equipment with internal-combustion engines to ensure they are in working order. Drivers in the forest should stay on designated roads and never park on dry brush or grass, to avoid risk of starting a fire. Check fire restrictions and alerts by visiting us online at, control campfires that are built in designated fire rings by making sure they are out and crushing cigarettes in ashtrays.

To protect the public and natural resources from the threat of wildfires, the following public restrictions are effective June 7, 2011 and will remain in effect until September 31, 2011:
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 forest closure orders, please contact one of the following Forest Service district offices: 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.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gulf of Mexico Study Group Visits Winston County

A group from the State of Veracruz, Mexico, visited Winston County recently.  Like Winston County, Veracruz is in the Gulf of Mexico watershed, and the members of the study group wanted to learn more about the natural resources and the people in the State of Alabama.  This study group was made up of citizens from all walks of life including an elementary school teacher, a biology professor, a cattle farmer, coffee grower, and a federal official.  As part of the tour, we visited Barry and Lynn Hendrix's poultry farm, Charles and Kathy Brannon's beef cattle and vegetable farm, and Mr. Buford Spain's family farm and antique tool collection.  The weather was scorching, but the group seemed to enjoy the farm visits.  Each of the farmers and their families definitely enjoyed meeting these international travelers.  Later that evening, the group attended the Rock Creek Watershed Kickoff Meeting in Arley.  Each member of the study group related some of the lessons learned while visiting the United States.  It was a privilege to be able to spend time with the study group, and I hope they enjoy the rest of their visit to Alabama.

Additional photos from the tour in Winston County.

Slough Cleanup on Smith Lake on June 17-18

Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. (WCSLAI) is sponsoring a Slough Cleanup on Smith Lake on Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18, 2011. The cleanup area is from Duncan Bridge to the headwaters of the Sipsey Fork. Boat owners and other volunteers are needed. WCSLAI will furnish trash bags and trash collection at three sites-Lakeshore Marina, Old Yellow Creek Marina, and Clear Creek Recreation Area from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Click on the photo on the right for a full size flyer that gives more information and a map of cleanup locations on the lake.