Tuesday, May 29, 2012

NRCS Announces Signup for Longleaf Pine in Alabama

Map of EQIP 2012 Long Leaf Pine Priority areas

The NRCS has announced a signup for Longleaf Pine in the EQIP program.  More information is available at this NRCS website.  Locally, you can check with Wade Hill, District Conservationist, Marion/Winston Office, at (205) 921-3103.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May Council Meeting Minutes

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs on May 17, 2012.  Present were John Creed, LaVerne Matheson, Allison Cochran, Johnna Franks, Chris Wright, Mike Henshaw, and James Burnett.
  • Johnna reported that the balance in the treasury was $7,813.38.  She also successfully applied for a $500 grant from the Alabama Forests Forever Foundation to support the Winston County FAWN program.  Those grant funds have been deposited in the treasury.
  • Chris said that grants to landowners were available from the Gopher Tortoise Grant Program for constructing feral swine traps.  Allison noted that the EQIP program has an incentive program for building feral swine traps as well.  
  • Four new cogongrass infestations were located in the Natural Bridge Area.  Chris said that the AFC has marked the spots and will report them to the Alabama Department of Transportation for treatment.
  • The council agreed to give $200 to the Winston County 4-H Shooting Sports Team.  This team has won the State Shotgun competition and will travel to Nebraska to the National 4-H Shotgun Competition.  
  • The Council's next meeting will be a field trip to Raymond Burnett's Quail Farm, on Thursday, June 21, near Addison.  James Burnett has worked to set up this field trip next month.  The informal tour will begin at 9:00 a.m at the farm.  Anyone wishing to carpool to the farm should meet at the U. S. Forest Service office at 8:00 a.m. and we will depart shortly after 8:00.
  • The Youth Fishing Derby will be held on Saturday, June 9, at 8:30 a.m., at the Black Warrior Work Center.  The main attraction is the catfish, but this year's program will also feature a Wild Turkey Federation program for youth.  
  • Matt Brock is the new wildlife biologist on the Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area.
  • Council discussed possible Helene Mosley Treasure Forest Award nominations.
  • Johnna and Chris told the council about tentative plans for a logger training workshop tentatively planned for August.
  • Council members recognized LaVerne and Allison for the National Award that they received in Washington, D. C. recently.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bankhead National Forest Hosts Birding Boot Camp

A partnership between the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources and the National Forests in Alabama brought a "Birding Boot Camp" to Bankhead National Forest last week.  Eric Soehren, Wildlife Biologist for ADCNR's State Lands and Natural Heritage Program, led a short course for north Alabama wildlife biologists, technicians, and volunteer birdwatchers.  The course is held in preparation for upcoming breeding bird surveys conducted on National Forests and Wildlife Management Areas in the state.  Eric, a leader in Alabama bird conservation and an exceptional birder, provides a course that refreshes bird surveyors on bird identification, particularly bird songs.  Over the three day course, nine participants visited many sites on Bankhead observing birds and practicing bird song identification. 

Data from bird surveys are used to monitor trends in bird populations, identify needed conservation actions, and to monitor response of bird communities to forest management over the long term and across the region.

Participants in Birding Boot Camp

Cerulean Warbler on Bankhead National Forest.  credit Eric Soehren
 A highlight of the "birding boot camp" course was the chance to observe the cerulean warbler on Bankhead.  The cerulean warbler is a bird of conservation concern that breeds on Bankhead and very few other places in Alabama.  It requires large contiguous tracts of mature deciduous forests for breeding.  It is a neotropical migratory bird that winters in the Andes Mountains.

Anyone interested in birdwatching on the Bankhead National Forest should contact the Bankhead District Office in Double Springs at 205-489-5111.  Bankhead National Forest is a part of the North Alabama Birding Trail.  Birding brochures are available at the District Office.

May Council Meeting on May 17

Earth Day Station on Soils at Meek Elementary School
The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 17, 2012, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  Possible items for discussion will include the Youth Fishing Derby, Earth Day at Addison and Meek Schools, and the Smart Yards Program in Arley.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Alabama Celebrates Historic Milestone

Alabama Celebrates Historic Milestone
Auburn, Ala, May 2, 2012 – The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is proud to announce the completion of its first generation soil survey that identifies soil conditions in Alabama.  To mark this historic event, members of the Alabama Cooperative Soil Survey Partnership gathered in Montgomery, Alabama, as Governor Robert Bentley proclaimed January through July 2012 as the period for celebrating the next generation of the Alabama Cooperative Soil Survey Partnership.

This is a collaborative effort between NRCS, Alabama A&M, Auburn and Tuskegee Universities as well as other federal, state, and local partners such  as the Alabama Association of Conservation Districts (AACD) and Alabama State Soil and Water Conservation Committee (SWCC).  NRCS State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett said this group is committed to delivering science-based soils information to help people protect and maintain Alabama’s valuable resources.  “Soil health is important to all of us.  It supports plant growth, recycles nutrients, regulates and filters water flow, supports buildings and roads, and provides habitat for many plants and animals.  It is vital to our existence.” said Puckett.   

The proclamation noted the importance of promoting the conservation and wise use of Alabama’s soil, water, air, plant and animal resources.  “The Alabama Cooperative Soil Survey Partnership has worked together for over a century to
investigate, inventory, document, classify, and interpret the soils of Alabama,” said MO-15 Team Leader Charles Love.  A general soils map for Alabama was completed in 1929 and a comprehensive and detailed county level soil survey was completed in 2012. 

Soil surveys are used by city planners, farmers, ranchers, developers, construction companies, teachers, realtors, and numerous other professionals.  The“next generation” web-based soil survey is available 24 hours a day at:  http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov.  A new smartphone application, or “app,” is available as a free download for both iPhone and Android users to access soil survey information.
The app, SoilWeb, combines online soil survey information with the GPS capabilities of smartphones.  For more information about NRCS or the Soils Program visit:  http://www.al.nrcs.usda.gov