Thursday, December 4, 2014

Planting Small Grains for Fish Habitat Improvement on Smith Lake

Alabama Power and U. S. Forest Service cooperated on fish habitat improvement project on Smith Lake.  This project involved planting small grain grass seed on soil exposed by low water levels on the lake.  If successful, the grass seed will grow and establish a stand of grass.  When water levels rise in the spring, the grass will be submerged and will provide macroinvertebrates and fish with valuable habitat.  More photos of the project are at this link.  These photos were made at the Houston Recreation Area boat ramp.

Loading pontoon with mulch, fertilizer, sticker,lime, and seed.

Mulch material.

Spraying mulch seed mix.

Joe Songer,, photographs the mulching operation.

Seed and mulch after application to bares soil.

Small grain seed embedded in the mulch.

Mike Clelland, Alabama Power, holds a photo of a successful planting that
has been flooded by rising water.  The submerged grass provides valuable
fish habitat.

Photo of successful planting before flooding.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November Council Meeting Minutes

The Winston County Natural Resources Council November meeting was held at the Alabama Forestry Commission office in Double Springs, on November 20, at 9:00 a.m.  Present were:  Johnna Franks, James Burnett, Tim Webb, Tom Grubbs, Mike Henshaw, and Chris Wright.  The balance in the treasury is $5,805.24.  The following items were discussed:
  • Kudzu bugs in Winston County.
  • Program on herbicides and invasive plants will be held on February 6, 2015, in Cullman, and it will have six hours of professional logging manager points.  Further details will be available soon.
  • 4-H Pig Squeal project for Winston County 4-H'ers.
  • $1,000 Sponsorship of FAWN program from Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association.  Thanks to Ernie Stephens for helping secure these funds for FAWN.  
  • Cogongrass program is available to landowners with small patches (less than 0.5 acre) of cogongrass.  Chris said that the backpack sprayer and herbicides were being stored at the AFC office.
  • Tom Grubbs and Tim Webb spoke about the possibility of adding a 911 learning station at FAWN.  It was agreed that a 911 station would be a good addition to the program and the council will look at the possibility of adding it when working up the 2015 FAWN schedule.
  • Chris Wright is taking a position with the Walker County Forestry Commission office and will be transferring soon.  Chris's move will be a loss for the WCNRC and will leave a vacancy in the Chairman position.  
  • A Technician position will be filled at the Winston County Forestry Commission office soon.
  • No December Council meeting.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November Council Meeting - New Location

The November meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, November 20, at the Alabama Forestry Commission Office, 225 Coats Street in Double Springs.  Please see map below for the office location.  It is located at the #1 dot on the map.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cogongrass Assistance Available in Winston and Marion Counties

Cogongrass seedhead.
Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan,
Marion County Soil & Water Conservation District has received a grant from the Northwest Alabama
Resource Conservation & Development Council to assist landowners with the eradication of cogongrass.  Cogongrass is an invasive species.  It spreads by both wind-blown seeds and underground creeping rhizomes.  It is the most unwanted of all plant species in Alabama, worse than kudzu or privet.  It is usually found in small (less than 20 foot diameter) patches. Cogongrass was accidentally introduced into Alabama near Grand Bay about 1911 as seed in packing materials from Japan.  It is gradually making its way into our area.
One key identifying feature is the production of fluff, white, plume-like seedheads in early spring.  It is an opportunistic plant and can be found in forests, pastures, orchards, rights-of-way and waste areas.
For patches that are less than ½ acre in size the landowner can get assistance through this program for the area that needs to be treated.  If the patch is larger than ½ acre an application can be completed through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) administered through the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
If you think you have a patch of cogongrass do not mow through or near the area because this will aid in dispersing the seeds.  Do not do any soil work such as disking because this will aid in carrying fragments of roots to other areas.  Do not attempt to burn in areas with cogongrass before consulting with the Alabama Forestry Commission.  Any equipment that comes in contact with an infestation of cogongrass should be thoroughly cleaned.
Landowners in Marion and Winston counties should contact the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District or Natural Resource Conservation Service at 205-921-3103 ext. 3, Winston County Soil and Water Conservation District at 205-489-5227, the Alabama Forestry Commission at 205-921-3843 or 205-489-5014 or the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service at 205-921-3551 or 205-489-5376 if cogongrass is found on their property.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Photos from FAWN Program

Allison Cochran with the U. S. Forest Service has shared some of her photos from the FAWN program at Houston Recreation Area.  Here's a link to a photo album of her photos.  This year we had approximately 336 sixth graders from Winston County schools.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Minutes of October Council Meeting

Standing: Quinn Wood, David Brown, Jeremy McDonald, Wade Hill, 
John Sudduth, and James Burnett.  Seated:  Renee Smith, Chris Wright,
 LaVerne Matheson, Carl Godsey, and John Creed.
The Winston County Natural Resources Council meeting was held on October 16, 2014, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  Present were: LaVerne Matheson, Carl Godsey, John Creed, David Brown, Mike Henshaw, James Burnett, Quinn Wood, Chris Wright, John Sudduth, Wade Hill, Renee Smith, and Jeremy McDonald.

Items discussed were:
  • FAWN Program details.  Dates are FAWN walk thru - Wednesday, October 22, at 9:00 a.m., FAWN for Meek, Addison, and Double Springs - Thursday, October 23, at 9:00 a.m.  FAWN for Lynn and Haleyville - Friday, October 24, at 9:00 a.m.
  • LaVerne reported on the Clean up on Smith Lake held on October 9.  He said that 6.5 tons of debris where removed from the lake.  About 25 people participated in the effort.  Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy's Facebook page has photos of the cleanup 
  • Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. is placing signs at boat ramps and other access points that there is a $250 fine for littering on the lake.
  • John Sudduth attended the TREASURE Forest Conference.  The TREASURE Forest Association has teamed up with the Alabama Farmers Federation.  The group has a new car tag program that promises to be very popular, since the special TREASURE Forest tag will be provided at no cost.  He also noted that there will be a effort to recruit new TREASURE Forest owners into the program.
  • Jeremy McDonald said there would be a Bankhead Liaison Panel meeting on Thursday, October 16, at 6:00 p.m., at the First National Bank in Double Springs.
  • Carl said that the Winston County Farmers Federation Womens Committee was sponsoring a political forum on October 21, at 6:00 p.m. at the Bernice Hilton Walker Building in Double Springs.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary WCNRC

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October Council Meeting

The October meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, October 16, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  We’ll have updated schedules of the FAWN programs to review. 
Important dates:
FAWN walk thru - Wednesday, October 22, at 9:00 a.m.
FAWN for Meek, Addison, and Double Springs - Thursday, October 23, at 9:00 a.m.
FAWN for Lynn and Haleyville - Friday, October 24, at 9:00 a.m.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Another Successful Renew Our Rivers Lake Clean-up Held on Smith Lake in Winston County

Today the Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy, Inc and Alabama Power Company held another successful Renew Our Rivers Lake Clean-up on Smith Lake in Winston County.  Today's clean-up was focused on the Sipsey Fork near the Lakeshore community.  The clean-up resulted in a construction dumpster full of litter and white-beaded foam.

The Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy, Inc gives a special thanks to all of the VOLUNTEERS who came out today and helped keep our beautiful lake clean!  Special thanks to our sponsors including Hyche, LLC for providing the dumpster, Dan Hogan and Free State Boat Docks for unloading the trash and providing a site, Lake Shore Inn and Marina for providing a launch site and Tom Snoddy, Assign-A-Highway and Bobby Everett and Winston County Commission for providing extra manpower!  All volunteers and sponsors who help make these efforts possible are greatly appreciated!

The following businesses and organizations sponsored the Summer and Fall 2014 Renew Our Rivers Clean-ups in Winston County.
Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy, Inc.
Alabama Power Company
Bankhead National Forest
Smith Lake Civic Association, Walker County
Arley Coffee Shop
Traditions Bank
Williams Grocery
La Plaza Bonita
Latitude Hair and Nail Salon
Gateway Foodland - Curry
Talk of the Town
Mudd Puddlers Pottery
Clark Gas - Addison
Powell Building Supply
Lakeshore Inn and Marina
Addison Quick Stop
Addison Discount Pharmacy
Werner's Trading Company
Hyche LLC
King Quality Boat Docks
Rock Creek Marina
Williams Hardware
Wood Studio


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Renew Our Rivers, Smith Lake Clean-up Scheduled for Thursday, October 9

Alabama Power Company and the Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy, Inc. are hosting another Renew Our Rivers clean-up on Smith Lake this week.  Join in the clean-up to help keep Winston County and Smith Lake clean and beautiful!

Volunteers can meet at the Lakeshore Inn at 8:30 on Thursday, October 9 to assist with the clean-up.  The focus of this clean-up is small trash, like bottles and cans, in sloughs along the Sipsey Fork and its tributaries.  Household garbage will not be accepted.

Bankhead Liaison Panel Meeting Scheduled

The Bankhead Liaison Panel will meet on Thursday, October 16, 2014.  This public meeting will be held at the First National Bank (2nd floor conference room) in Double Springs, Alabama.  The First National Bank is located on Highway 278 across from Jack's Restaurant in Double Springs.  The meeting begins promptly at 6:00 pm.  For more information, contact the Bankhead National Forest office at (205) 489-5111.

The October Liaison Panel meeting topics include;
§  Current State, Maintenance, and Future of the Following Trails

o   Owl Creek Horse Trails

o   Flint Creek Multi-Use Trails

§  2015 Hunting Regulation Changes & Seasonal Gate Closures

§  Lewis Smith Lake Transition Zone – Aquatic Wildlife Project (special guest speaker from the Southern Research Station)

§  Future of Houston Recreation Area

§  Two New Ecosystem Management Projects

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bankhead National Forest News Release - Temporary Horse Trail Closure

Forest Service Temporarily Closes Portions of the Owl Creek Horse Trail System

 (Double Springs, Ala.) September 16, 2014 –
A U.S. Forest Service trail improvement project has temporarily closed portions of the Owl Creek Horse Trail System on the Bankhead National Forest.  For the next six months, portions of the Key Mill Loop that leads out of the Owl Creek Horse Camp along Forest Service Road 262 will be closed to the public for maintenance. 

 The trail improvement project will address important concerns regarding public safety and damages to soil and water resources along the trail system.  Signs will be posted at the Owl Creek and Pine Torch trailheads to indicate which section of the Owl Creek Horse Trail System has re-opened.

    “The safety of our forest users is always a priority, said Dave Casey, district ranger of the Bankhead National Forest. “Heavy equipment on the closed sections of trails could create a safety hazard for trail users. We’re asking the public to be patient during essential trail maintenance work.”

For more information about the trail closures, please contact the Bankhead Ranger District at (205) 489-5111 or visit “Know Before You Go” at to learn current forest conditions.

Minutes September Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on September 9, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  Members present included LaVerne Matheson, Jeremy McDonald, Mike Henshaw, Andy Baril, Travis McDonald, and Allison Cochran.  Items discussed included:
Hamner Park Signage
  • LaVerne announced that Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. will have a lake cleanup effort on Thursday, October 9 at 8:30 a.m.  Volunteers should meet at Lakeshore Inn.  There will be two or three barge type boats.  Anyone with smaller boats that can go into shallower water than the barges are urged to assist as well.  For more information, call LaVerne Matheson at (256) 747-4422.
  • FAWN program is scheduled for October 23-24, with a walk through on Wednesday, October 22.  Several details are being finalized, and draft program will be sent out soon to volunteers and to schools.
  • Hamner park has installed signage throughout the park about watersheds and water quality.   These signs were made possible by the Rock Creek Watershed Management Grant, the Town of Arley, and the Arley Women's Club.  LaVerne mentioned a Alabama Power Grant that might be an opportunity for the park as well.
  • There was a favorable article about the council in the Northwest Alabamian newspaper.
  • A letter about Professional Logging Manager (PLM) training was sent out by the Winston County Extension Office.  Andy reported on the recent Walker County meeting, and said the Walker County Forestry Planning Committee would like to partner on the next logger training program they do in 2015.  For example, the WCNRC could sponsor refreshments at the next meeting at a cost of approximately $250.  Allison noted that there is still a need for logger training since International Paper had formerly provided some training in North Alabama.
  • Travis said that 10 feral hogs were killed on the recent two-week special hunt.  That brings the total number of feral hogs killed on the Bankhead in 2014 to 226.  
  • Allison said that the Forest Lands Stewards Forum was promoting the planting of shortleaf pine.  They would like to provide educational opportunities for both professionals, such as loggers, foresters, and governmental employees, and another for landowners and the public.  Other topics such as prescribed burning and wildlife would be important to these programs as well.  Chris Erwin may attend a future council meeting see if we could partner to conduct these programs.
  • LaVerne commented on the Alabama Water Management Plan.  He said that there were over one million septic systems in Alabama, and that 20-30% are failing.
  • Andy summarized the TREASURE Forest program, American Tree Farm, and Forest Stewardship programs.  He said that the TREASURE Forest program is a priority of the Alabama Natural Resources Council.
  • Fire in the Eastern Oak Forests Conference will be held in Tuscaloosa on May 27-29, 2015, and may include a field trip in the Bankhead National Forest.
  • "Hooves, Horns and Claws" seminar to be held at Double Springs Municipal Building on September 23 at 7:30 a.m.  The seminar will review Alabama's animal and livestock laws.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September Council Meeting

The September meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, September 18, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  We’ll have draft programs of the FAWN schedules to review. 


Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Thursday, September 4, 2014

FAWN Dates - October 23 - 24, 2014

The FAWN dates have been set for 2014.  Meek, Double Springs, and Addison sixth grades will attend on Thursday, October 23, and Lynn and Haleyville sixth grades will attend on Friday, October 24.  Please mark your calendars!  Help us give these Winston County youth, our greatest natural resource, a great learning experience.
Sixth graders learn about boating safety from Coast Guard Auxiliary

Thursday, August 21, 2014

August Winston County Natural Resources Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs on August 21, 2014, at 9:00 a.m.  Present were Allison Cochran, John Creed, and Mike Henshaw.  Balance in the treasury is $8,865.40.  The following topics were discussed:
  • Dates for the FAWN program.  1st choice is Oct 9-10, 2nd choice is Oct 23-24, and a possible rain date of Oct 17.  Schools will determine the date and if they wish to attend.
  • Allison commented on the Buckmasters Expo in Montgomery.  She represented the U. S. Forest Service, and she said that Andy Baril was there representing Extension and the Auburn University School of Forestry.
  • Possible Fall 2014 Landowner/Logger training or field day.  The Council is willing to assist with local logistics including food, postage, meeting rooms, and equipment.  However, at this time, the council will need additional team member resources in order to conduct a training this fall.  
  • Possible tour or educational workshop in 2015 to focus on shortleaf pine establishment and management.  Interesting work is being conducted on this species here in the Bankhead.  
  • Resource Allocation Committee (RAC) Three council members have applied to be members on the RAC.  
  • Hamner Park in Arley is being updated by the Arley Women's Club, and part of the improvements will include signs about protecting watersheds and water quality.  The signs were provided through funds from the Rock Creek Watershed Grant.
  • Allison noted that the Department of Conservation, through the Hunter Education Program is promoting Archery Parks such as the one that is located in Cullman. 
  • The Bankhead National Forest has been awarded a grant through the National Wild Turkey Foundation to control invasive plant species on the district.
  • The Bankhead National Forest is supporting efforts to control wildfires in the western U. S.  The following district employees have been involved in this work and have traveled out west:  Kerry Clark, Craig Moore, Aaron Pirkle, Mike Cook, Jody Tetlow, Randall White, Gaylon McGraw, Lorenzo Walton, Dave Casey, and Brian Henley.
Mike Henshaw

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August Council Meeting

The August meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, August July 21, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Team Places Second at State Competition

The Winston County 4-H recently competed at the State 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program.  The contest was held at the College of Forestry and Wildlife Science at Auburn University.  This was a two day event where the youth were tested on wildlife identification, wildlife foods, aerial photos, management practices, and management plans.  The team placed second in the junior division.  Pictured from left to right: Samuel Gomora, Will Gunnin, Sam Brannon.  Sarah Gomora is holding the trophy.  Not pictured is the team coach, Donna Gunnin.  

The Winston County team was sponsored in part by the Winston County Natural Resources Council.

Beavers, BMPS and Forest Products

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July Minutes of the WCNRC Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on July 17, 2014, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  Present were: Dave Casey, LaVerne Matheson, James Burnett, John Creed, Mike Henshaw, and Allison Cochran.  The following topics were discussed:
  • The council approved $200 to support the Winston County 4-H Habitat Evaluation Team that attended the state competition in Auburn in June.  The junior team, consisting of four youth, placed second in the competition.
  • Dave Casey, District Ranger, made a presentation about the Resource Allocation Committe (RAC) that is forming to allow counties in Alabama to take advantage of Title II funds from the Forest Service.  Winston County is one of three counties that have requested title II funds, and the state must have a RAC to allocate those funds.  The council discussed several individuals that might be recruited to serve on the RAC to represent Winston County.
  • John Creed gave a history of funds that have come from the Forest Service to counties in the past. 
  • Allison said that the FAWN program could still be held at the Houston Recreation Area this year.  The restrooms and other facilities are in working order.
  • The next liaison panel meeting will probably be held in October.  A date for the meeting is still pending.
  • LaVerne said that the next Alabama Water Management Meeting would be held in August.  He also reported on efforts to monitor water quality on Smith Lake.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bankhead National Forest Houston Day Use Area Open for July Fourth

The U.S. Forest Service announced that the Houston Day Use Area on the Bankhead National Forest will be open in time for the July 4th holiday.  Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the swimming and picnic areas as well as the boat ramp beginning this holiday weekend.  According to Bankhead District Ranger Dave Casey, Bankhead National Forest employees and local contractors have been working to restore water, repair buildings and clean grounds for the upcoming holiday.  The swimming and picnic areas will be open through Labor Day weekend.  The boat ramp will remain open as long as water depths allow safe boat launching.

Camping loops at Houston Recreation Area remain closed, but campers will find recreation opportunities at numerous other sites including Clear Creek and Corinth Recreation Areas that will remain fully operational for the upcoming July 4th weekend.

The National Forests in Alabama encourage visitors to check its web site at in advance of visits or contact the Bankhead District Office at 205-489-5111.