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