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

“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

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

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.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

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:

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


Mary Jennings,, 931/525-4973
Denise Rowell,, 251/441-6630
Tom MacKenzie,, 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

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 Connect with our Facebook page at, follow our tweets at, watch our YouTube Channel at and download photos from our Flickr page at

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.