Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Renew Our Rivers Lake Clean-up Scheduled for Winston County on June 19 & 20

Please join us for a Renew Our Rivers Clean-up on Smith Lake on June 19 & 20.  The Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy, Alabama Power Company and Bankhead National Forest are sponsoring a clean-up around the Yellow Creek Area (Yellow Creek, Sipsey and Brushy) to target trash created and deposited in the lake from this year's wind storms.  We will meet at 9 AM at the Old Yellow Creek Marina at the END of County Road 61 in Houston.  Bring lunch, water and sunscreen.  Special thanks to Carl Godsey for hosting the clean-up and Hyche LLC for providing the dumpster.

Please note we will not accept large trash, structures of any kind (old boat houses, piers, etc) or household garbage.  This clean-up is focused on removing small hand trash and debris from the lake.

Allison Cochran, 205-489-5111
David Brown, 256-747-2109

Free Fishing Derby Saturday

Please remember and spread the word about Saturday's Free Kids Fishing Derby.
Join in the fun on Saturday, June 1.  The Annual Kids Fishing Derby is held at the Bankhead National Forest's Black Warrior Work Center on Highway 33 between Double Springs and Moulton.  Children ages 5 - 12, accompanied by an adult, should bring gear and bait for a day of catfishing!  Children can compete in the casting contest, fish for catfish, enjoy the National Wild Turkey Federation's Jake's Take Aim Shooting Gallery, and win door prizes.  Registration begins at 8:30 and lunch is served around noon.  We hope to see all area youth this Saturday!

The Annual Kids Fishing Derby is made possible by partnership with a number of local organizations.  We thank the Bankhead National Forest, Alabama Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries, the Double Springs Lions Club, the National Wild Turkey Federation Sipsey Strutters and Bankhead Beards and Spurs, the Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association, the Winston County Natural Resources Council, the Winston County Commission and many many other volunteers and businesses!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Wildlife Society's Position Paper on Feral Swine

At the recent Feral Swine Working Group meeting held at the Bankhead District Office, it was mentioned that The Wildlife Society had a position paper about feral swine.  This document is a good place to start when learning about the effect of feral swine on our natural resources.  The document is available on their website.

Guide to Hunting Feral Swine on the Bankhead National Forest

A guide to hunting feral swine on the Bankhead National Forest is available on the
U. S. Forest Service website.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fishing Derby Flyer

May Council Meeting Minutes

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs on Thursday, May 16, 2013.  The following members were present:  LaVerne Matheson, James Burnett, Carl Godsey, Allison Cochran, Matt Brock, Elrand Denson, Jeremy McDonald, Mike Henshaw, and Eugene Brooks.  Items discussed included:

  • Fishing Derby will be held Saturday, June 1st.  Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will include a casting contest, and the National Wild Turkey Federation inflatable shooting gallery.
  • June 19-20 are the dates for the Renew Our Rivers Cleanup that is tentatively planned to cleanup tornado debris in the Yellow Creek area of Smith Lake.
  • Jeremy McDonald said approximately 200 youth and adults took part in the Junior Ranger Program at the Payne Creek Demonstration Area on May 15.  The WCNRC sponsors this event by providing bus transportation for the youth at a cost of $208.80.
  • Bankhead Liaison Panel Meeting tonight at 6:00 p.m. at First National Bank in Double Springs.
  • Johnna Franks, Treasurer, emailed the balance in our account which is $15,489.23
  • Checks are needed for Fishing Derby and Junior Ranger Program, John Creed will see about getting the checks.
  • False alarm on hemlock woolly adelgids at Camp McDowell, the insect turned out to be Indian Wax Scale, a relatively harmless insect that feeds on hemlock.
  • Update on grants from the Winston County Commission for natural resource programs.
  • Herbicide Workshop to be held on August 3rd or 10th.  Program will be open to the public.
  • James Burnett, Winston County EMA Director, said that signs are needed on the Sipsey Fork to help stranded canoeists access nearby roads to get help.
  • LaVerne gave a report on Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. activities including a public meeting and roadside clean-up.  He also noted that help is available for the clean-up of illegal dumps from ADEM.
  • Matt Brock, Black Warrior WMA manager, stated that summer food plot plantings were underway on the management area.  He said that only 24 wild turkeys were harvested on the management area, largely due to the unusually cool weather this year.  
  • There will be a Trophy Scoring Session at the Tanner District Office on July 11.
  • Matt noted that Hunter Education is moving to an online system, with fewer field days.  One traditional hunter ed class will be held in Winston County this year.
  • A youth dove hunt is scheduled for this year in East Lawrence, more information later on this event.
  • Rush Creek Culvert Replacement Project has started and will cause road closure at some point during construction. 
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Council Meeting on May 16th

FFA Forestry Judging Winners from WCHS,
 sponsored by WCNRC
The May meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 16, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Aquatic Surveys - Sipsey Fork and Brushy Creek - Long-term Monitoring of Aquatic Species and Effects of Reservoir Inundation on Bankhead National Forest

Lewis Smith reservoir is a 35 mi long, 21,200 acre impoundment located in the headwaters of the Black Warrior River, on Sipsey Fork and Brushy Creek in north central Alabama. The dam was constructed in 1962 and is operated by the Alabama Power Company to provide flood control and hydroelectric power. Water levels upstream of the reservoir fluctuate seasonally and are generally highest in the spring and lowest in late fall or early winter. Seasonal water level fluctuations can be up to 20 ft. and create a ‘transition zone’ at the upstream extent of the impoundment.  During high water periods the lower reaches of Sipsey Fork and Brushy Creek and their tributaries become inundated by reservoir water, which eliminates riverine habitat and isolates and fragments aquatic communities.  As lake levels drop and tributaries reconnect to mainstem rivers, aquatic communities at least temporarily regain lost habitat and become less isolated.  The frequency, timing, and magnitude of changes in water levels have the potential to affect stream habitat and the distribution and ultimately the persistence of aquatic species within the Sipsey Fork and Brushy Creek watersheds, but the spatial and temporal extent of the transition zone and its effects on aquatics and habitat are largely unknown.
In 2012, the Bankhead National Forest initiated a multi-year effort to investigate the effects of the transition zone on biota (fish, mussels, crayfish, salamanders, turtles, and aquatic plants) and habitat within the Sipsey Fork and Brushy Creek watersheds.
The Sipsey Fork and Brushy Creek drainages on the Bankhead NF are home to 4 federally listed mussels (2 endangered  and 2 threatened), 4 sensitive mussels, 1 threatened turtle, 2 threatened  aquatic plants, 3 sensitive fish, and 1 sensitive salamander along with 94 mi of designated critical habitat for mussels. In cooperation with the Alabama Natural Heritage Program, the Geological Survey of Alabama, the USFS Southern Research Station, the Center for Aquatic Technology Transfer, and the Alabama Power Company (APCO), the Bankhead National Forest’s goals for this multi-year effort are to delineate the extent of the transition zones in Sipsey Fork and Brushy Creek, determine distribution and status of biota in the transition zones, provide a baseline for long-term monitoring, and develop streamside management plans.
The project continues this year.  Fisheries biologists from the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station in Blacksburg, Virginia and Oxford, Mississippi sampled fish in the main stem Sipsey Fork and Brushy Creek and tributaries inundated by the reservoir water.  Spring fish sampling methods included backpack electrofishing in small streams, boat electrofishing in main stems, and the use of a mini-trawl in main stems and mouths of major tributaries. 
The project was made possible by an agreement with APCO and the NFs in Alabama.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bankhead National Forest and Alabama Power Company Install Fish Habitat Structures on Smith Lake

This winter Bankhead National Forest and Alabama Power Company partnered again to improve fish habitat and sport fishing opportunities in Lewis Smith Lake.  Habitat and fishing opportunities are enhanced by placing fish structures in Lewis Smith Lake in areas adjacent to Forest Service Recreation areas.  US Forest Service and Alabama Power Company employees utilize bundles of recycled Christmas trees to construct sunken fish habitat structures.  In summer, the partners will place additional habitat enhancement structures, bamboo bucket structures, in the lake.   The structures provide habitat for small fish, which in turn will attract larger sport fish, such as bass and crappie.

The Alabama Power Company records the locations of the structures and produces a map to aid sport fishers in finding the structures.  The map can be found at  Fish Structure Location Map

This winter structures were installed at sites near the Corinth and Clear Creek Recreation Area.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Youth Fishing Derby Planned for Saturday, June 1

The Youth Fishing Derby is scheduled for Saturday, June 1, at the Black Warrior Work Center.  The Derby is open to area youth free of charge.

Bankhead Liaison Panel Meeting Scheduled

Interested members of the public are invited to attend the next meeting of the Bankhead Liaison Panel.  The stakeholder group will hold their quarterly public meeting on Thursday, May 16, 2013.  The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00.  The meeting will be held at the First National Bank in Double Springs, Alabama.  If you have questions about the meeting, please call the Bankhead National Forest at 205-489-5111.