Monday, December 14, 2015

Shortleaf Pine Initiative Announced

Mobile Hog Trap

Feral hog trap materials loaded on a trailer.

The Winston County Natural Resources Council has a feral hog trap that is available for loan.  Matt Brock, North Ala. Private Lands Technical Assistance Biologist with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, is shown here transporting a feral hog trap to a landowner's property in Addison.  The "mobile hog trap", as Matt calls it, consists of four-16 foot cattle panels, guillotine-style trap door, trigger, 12 t-posts, t-post driver, and a 16 foot utility trailer.  Matt can help the landowner check for feral hog damage, select a good trap location, and assist with the construction and operation of the trap.  Later, the landowner can disassemble it and return the trap, or purchase new trap materials and construct a new trap door to return to the council.  This trap has been used in the past with good results.  Landowners should also keep in mind that the EQIP program provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service has an incentive program to assist landowners with the cost of construction of feral hog traps.

Matt explains how a feral hog trap operates
at a feral hog meeting last year.

Farmer 101 Class to be Held in Cullman

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Tennessee Shortleaf Pine Publication

Tennessee's Shortleaf Pine Publication will be very helpful for anyone in North Alabama or North Georgia that is managing shortleaf pine or establishing a stand.  Click here to see this pdf publication.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Minutes of November Meeting

Photo by Allison Cochran.
The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs on November 19, 2015.  The following members were present:  Mike Henshaw, Allison Cochran, John Creed, Matt Brock, and James Burnett.  The following items were discussed:

  • Tripp Gaskins is in the process of moving to South Carolina.  The council hopes his move goes well, and we appreciate all his help in the past on many council projects.
  • Karen Pulliam is retiring at the end of the year.  Allison said that position might be moved to the supervisors office in Montgomery.
  • Matt said that there have been many staff changes at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  Matt will be changing duties to be part of a technical assistance team for landowners.  There will be five team members statewide.  Matt's area will be Northwest Alabama, but it is not strictly limited to certain counties.  His office will be located in the Walker County NRCS office in Jasper.  Matt will work on wildlife management plans for landowners, submit wildlife disease samples, and conduct white-tailed deer reproductive studies.  Kevin Pugh will take over as manager of the Black Warrior WMA and the Sam Murphy WMA. 
  • Proposals will be submitted to the Winston County Commission for several council projects including FAWN.  There is uncertainty about the status of the Resource Allocation Committee, but we hope that will be worked out soon.
  • Water quality monitoring workshops will be held in Curry on January 15-16.  For more information, see this link. 
  • Big Tree Wildfire response discussion.  Allison said the fire was contained, and now has been declared "out".  Allison said it was a learning experience for everyone.  For example, having outside fire fighting teams come in to the Bankhead, partnering with outside organizations, and having an informational meeting about the fire: these were all new events for many involved.  She said that the final estimate of the size of the fire was 2003 acres.  She said that damage was light and there were some benefits.  The fire fighters tried to have a light touch since they were in the Sipsey Wilderness, and they have gone back in to cover some of the bare soil exposed by fire lines.  Further leaf fall should also help cover exposed soil.
  • Corinth and Clear Creek are closed for the season, but maintenance and repairs will continue during the off season.  Allison said they are preparing to build handicap accessible courtesy piers at some of the boat ramps.  
  • John said he has seen bald eagles in the Houston area, and Allison said that the Forest Service would be conducting a bald eagle survey in January.
  • James said there was no damage reported from the recent storms.
  • Matt reported on the early gun hunt on the Black Warrior WMA.  He said that only five deer were checked in.  Hunter participation was heavy with 500 permits issued on both days, but they had a low success rate.  He said that it was successful in promoting the use of public lands for hunting, and that this hunt may be expanded next year to include other areas of the Bankhead and/or other areas.
  • Allison said that high numbers of deer have been seen on the annual spotlight survey on the Bankhead.
There will be no December meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council.

Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

November Council Meeting

Beekeeping and Forest Pollinators Station at FAWN
Photo by Johnna Franks. 
The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, November 19, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Water Testing Workshops to Be Held in January near Curry

Water Watch volunteer prepares bacteriological sample.

Water testing workshops will be offered on January 15-16, 2016, near Curry, at the Smith Lake Civic Association Building.  The Friday, January 15, training will be for Water Chemistry Training, and the Saturday, January 16, training will focus on Bacteriological Water Testing.  You can register online by clicking on the link below.

These training classes will be taught by Alabama Water Watch.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Informational Meeting about the Big Tree Wildfire to be held at Winston County High School

Aerial image of Big Tree Wildfire (USFS)
The U. S. Forest Service will hold an informational meeting about the Big Tree Wildfire at 10:00 a.m, on Saturday, October 24, 2015, in the Winston County High School Parking Lot.  This meeting will be open to the public and to the news media.  Anyone wanting to find out more about the Big Tree Wildfire in the Sipsey Wilderness of the Bankhead National Forest is welcome to attend.

The Forest Service Website for the Big Tree Wildfire is located at this link and it is frequently updated with the latest conditions.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Big Tree Wildfire Information Web Page

The Forest Service has developed a web page to post updates about the wildfire in the wilderness.

 Please check this link to get the latest on the fire.

Update on Sipsey Wilderness Fire

Monday, October 19, 2015

October 19 Updates on Sipsey Wilderness "Big Tree" Wildfire 192015USE.pdf
Click on either image to view the announcements more closely in pdf format..

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Minutes of the October Council Meeting

Beekeepers Charles Brannon (yellow shirt) and Billy Pratt
(holding poster) teach students about forest pollinators.
Photo by Johnna Franks, AFC.
The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on Thursday, October 15, 2015.  Present were Allison Cochran, Tripp Gaskins, Mike Henshaw, Karen Pulliam, and John Creed.  Many forest service personnel were in a mandatory meeting, and the Marion County FAWN program also tied up other members.

Items discussed included:
  • FAWN program overview-  312 students total for both days, 13 teachers attended, over 30 volunteers assisted with the program.  Enrollment was down for the schools, but we had a few more home-school students that attended.  Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association may help sponsor some of the expenses from this year's FAWN program.
  • Houston Recreation Area may be closed in the future, but the Forest Service is committed to continuing the FAWN program.  They will work with the Council to find another site, if necessary.
  • A landowner survey is in progress by the American Forest Foundation.  They are conducting focus groups across the state to learn how to motivate more private forestland owners to actively manage their forests.  Results of this survey will be shared with other organizations.
  • North Region Forestry Field Day/Landowner Tour was held recently and at least one Winston County landowner attended.  He reported that it was an excellent tour.
  • A QuickBooks financial recordkeeping course will be held in Haleyville.  The course would be helpful for any small business or farm, that needs to keep good financial records.  The 2 1/2 hour classes will be taught on three Tuesday evenings starting on November 3, 2015.  For more information call Mike Henshaw at (205) 489-5376.
  • Tripp Gaskins, silviculturist, told us that he has accepted a position on the Francis Marion National Forest in his native South Carolina.  Tripp has been a tremendous asset on many of the Council's activities, and we certainly hope his move to South Carolina goes smoothly.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October Council Meeting

Class at the 2015 FAWN Program at Houston Rec. Area
(Photo by Johnna Franks, AFC)
Council Members,

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, October 15, 2015, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Minutes of September Meeting

Photo by Allison
The September meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council was held on Thursday, September 17, 2015, at the U. S. Forest Service Office.  Present were Allison Cochran, Andy Baril, Matthew Brock, Mike Henshaw, and John Creed.  The following items were discussed:
  • FAWN program is set for October 8 - 9.  There will be eight learning stations.  The schools will send six classes of students both days, with one home school group on Friday.  The walk-thru will be on Wednesday, October 7.
  • Andy noted that the North Region Forestry Field Day will have PLM points, and there will be another event in Pickens County on October 30, that will also have PLM points for loggers.
  • Andy attended the Stewardship Management Conference in Jasper.  He said that about 115 people attended, and a large percentage were foresters.
  • Will Liner joined the Alabama Forestry Commission recently, and will be working as the Urban and Community Forestry Partnership Coordinator.  He will work with such programs as the Arbor Day Foundation, and Tree City USA.  His number is 334-240-9306.
  • Matt gave an update on the state general fund budget; cuts were not as severe as feared.  He said that only a few hogs had been killed in the special hog hunt that ends Saturday.  His staff is working on planting wildlife food plots on the WMAs this month.  
  • Allison said the Bankhead is also planting wildlife food plots, installing soil and water protection projects, and conducting site prep burns.  A recreation realignment group is studying recreation assets on the district and will make recommendations.  Nationally, there are efforts to shift costs from the most damaging wildfires to FEMA, and away from the U. S. Forest Service.  This could benefit eastern and southern national forests, since so much of the wildfire costs are in western states.  
  • A Hunter Education class will be held on October 19-20, at the U. S. Forest Service Office.  Contact Allison at 489-5111 for more information.  
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

September Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet at 9:00 a.m., on September 17th,  at the U. S. Forest Service office in Double Springs.  We will have some draft agendas for the upcoming FAWN programs that will be held on October 8th and 9th.  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

Winston County FAWN Dates - October 8-9, 2015

The Winston County FAWN program will be held on Thursday and Friday, October 8 - 9, 2015, at Houston Recreation Area.  Please mark your calendars.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Minutes of the August Meeting of the WCNRC

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on August 20, 2015, at the U. S. Forest Service office in Double Springs.  The following members were present:  Andy Baril, Mike Henshaw, John Creed, James Burnett, Matthew Brock, and John Sudduth.  The following topics were discussed:

  • Balance in the treasury is $6,134.06, per an e-mail from treasurer, Johnna Franks.
  • Discussed the Forest Stewardship Conference that will be held on September 16, at Bevill State Community College in Jasper.  The conference will have 7.5 Professional Logging Manager credits and 6.0 CFE for Registered Foresters.  There is no registration fee, but registration is required.  A letter is being sent to the Winston County logger mailing list to make loggers aware of the program.  Andy said over 120 people attended last year's conference.
  • FAWN dates were discussed, October 8-9, and October 22-23, were proposed, but will have to be approved by the school systems.  
  • James Burnett said that impending state general fund budget cuts could cause the closure of many county Emergency Management Agencies across the state.  The legislature will meet soon to consider the budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1.
  • The council is still working on a tour of the barrel stave mill in Stevenson, and the barrel making factory in Decatur.
  • Andy said there will be a major shortleaf pine meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee, and that there will be more educational activities about planting shortleaf pine in Alabama during the next year.
  • Matthew said there would be a special hog hunt on the Black Warrior Wildlife Management Area on September 5-19.  He also noted that there would be an early rifle hunt for deer in Zone B of the Black Warrior WMA on November 13-14.  He expects the early rifle hunt to be very popular with hunters across the state.  Matthew said the WMA staff is also preparing wildlife openings for planting this fall.
  • The North Alabama Forestry Tour will be held in Cullman this year.  The dates for the tour will be posted as soon as possible on the WCNRC blog.
Mike Henshaw
Secretary, WCNRC

Stewardship Workshop in Jasper to include PLM and CFE Credits

Click here for printable agenda

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

August Meeting of the WCNRC

The August meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, August 20, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Minutes of the July Meeting of the WCNRC

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on July 16, 2015, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  Present were James Burnett, John Creed, Allison Cochran, Andy Baril, Mike Henshaw, and John Sudduth.
The following items were discussed:

  • Johnna Franks, treasurer, emailed the balance in the treasury, and it is $5,633.57.
  • The Council helped sponsor the Winston County 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Teams.  There were two junior teams and one senior team that attended from Winston County.  The senior team placed second in the state competition in Auburn.  Congratulations to the team, and thanks to their parents, volunteers, and Jay Conway, 4-H Foundation Agent.
  • James gave an update on the heat advisories from the U. S. Weather Service.  He noted that the heat index is predicted to reach 102 degrees by 10 a.m. on Saturday morning.  He recommended that we check on anyone working outside in this heat.
  • A feral hog trapping demonstration at an Addison farm resulted in five hogs being captured.  Thanks to Matt Brock for transporting the trap and providing technical assistance to the landowner.  This effort no doubt prevented damage to the farmers vegetable crops.
  • Allison said that about 90 feral hogs have been controlled on the Bankhead this year.
  • Jonathan Stone has been promoted to Lieutenant with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  He will be supervising conservation enforcement officers in several counties and is based out of the district office in Tanner, Alabama.
  • Andy said the date for the Walker County Logger Training will be on September 16, 2015, at Bevill State College, and will include 6 PLM credits.  He will send a flyer as soon as it is available.
  • A Certified Burn Manager Course will be held at Camp McDowell August 11-14, 2015.  A re-certification workshop will be held on August 10. More information is on the AFC website.
  • Allison said that the Forest Service will have two stewardship contracts that will be held soon.  They are recruiting local individuals that can provide services such as logging, gate installation, invasive plant control, etc. to bid on these contracts.
  • James gave an update on debris removal during severe weather outbreaks.  Contracts are put in place before the emergency so that services can begin sooner after the storm event.
  • Allison noted that there are two remote weather stations in Winston County, one at John and Mary Sudduth's Farm, and another at the Black Warrior Work Center.  James said that the County Commission was working on getting one near the courthouse in the near future.
  • John Sudduth brought flyers for the TREASURE Forest tag that will be available at no charge the first year.  More information is available about the tag at this link.
  • Possible tour of the barrel plant in Decatur, and the barrel stave mill in Stevenson.  Andy is going to try to find a contact for the tour.  These mills use white oak to construct wooden barrels.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

July Meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, July 16, 2015, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Great Article about LaVerne Matheson

LaVerne Matheson accepts the Rise to the Future, National Hydrology, and Soil Science Award, from USDA in Washington, D. C., on behalf of Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy, Inc.

Laverne was a steady member of the Winston County Natural Resources Council, and we could always count on his support.

Read more about LaVerne's work in this article on the Alabama Water Watch blog:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Minutes of June Council Meeting

The June WCNRC meeting was held on June 18, 2015, at the U. S. Forest Service office in Double Springs.  The following members were present:  Matt Brock, Jeremy McDonald, Mike Henshaw, James Burnett, and John Creed.  The following items were discussed:
  • Shortleaf Pine field day - several things were noted that could be changed to improve future field days, but overall, we thought it was a very good event.  The unusually hot weather was tough on the older age demographic that attended the field day.  According to Allison, the total registration number was 87 people.
  • Allison sent word via email the Youth Fishing Derby was very successful.  She reported on the derby in this blog post.  She noted that 64 kids attended the fishing derby, 350 lbs of catfish were stocked.  The kids caught lots of fish.  Total cost was $1,778.83, of that, the Forest Service spent - $750 on fish and toilet; NWTF gave a $250 donation, and the WCNRC spent $778.83.  
  • Jeremy reported on several activities.  The Payne Creek Outdoor Classroom had about 85 students that visited recently.  The council sponsored this group by covering the cost of the bus transportation.  They also had a group of University of Alabama students that visited on another date.  Jeremy has also assisted with the setup for the FFA Forestry Judging for Winston County students and offered to assist county Agriscience instructors with training the teams.
  • Davey Casey has relayed information that the Resource Allocation Committee is in the process of being established.  The council will be able to apply for Title II funds when the application process is opened.
  • Mar-Jac Poultry Prospective Grower Meeting in Russellville on June 23.  Mar-Jac is expanding its northwest Alabama operations and plans to build 100-125 new poultry houses.
  • Matt said that he used the council's hog trap put on a trapping demonstration for about 30 Fayette County landowners.  He will take the trap to an Addison landowner in a few days.  He will help the landowner set up the trap and provide technical assistance.  Andy noted that fruit-bearing blackberry patches were a good place to locate a hog trap, because the fruit are very attractive food for them.  Jeremy said that feral hogs appear to be expanding southward in the county.
  • The WMA is having an early gun season this year in response to the early breeding season of the deer there.  The dates for the hunt are November 13-14.  The limit will be one deer per day on the WMA this year.  Matt reported that he has been seeing more deer on the WMA this year, and James confirmed he had noticed higher numbers as well.
  • Discussion about deer habitat, unantlered deer harvest, and fawn depredation, on the WMA and private land.
  • Andy said Walker County would be hosting logger training at Bevill State College again this year in September.
  • Buckmasters Expo will be held in Montgomery on August 14-16. The Winston County Shotgun Team will be attending to compete in the 4-H Shotgun event.
  • James said that cutbacks are being considered for the U. S. Weather Service.  These cutbacks would include closing many state weather offices and issuing weather forecasts from six regional offices instead.  If the cuts were made, Alabama weather forecasts could come from Weather Service offices one or two states away.
  • James said that State budgets for the Emergency Management Agency have not been finalized, but deep cuts are being considered that would limit future grants to the EMA and could close many county EMA offices.  The legislature will go into special session later this summer to pass State budgets.
  • Matt Brock and his wife have a five week-old daughter, Savannah Elizabeth, and Matt said she is doing very well.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Kids Fishing Derby

2015 Kids Fishing Derby

The Bankhead National Forest held the 23rd annual “Kids Fishing Derby” on Saturday, June 13 in celebration of National Fishing and Boating Week and National Get Outdoors Day. The Forest Service, which hosts the yearly event to help interest young people in wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation, stocked a pond with about 350 pounds of catfish and invited area youngsters to try their luck.  The highlight of this year’s Derby was the National Wild Turkey Federation’s “Jakes Take Aim” Shooting Booth.  All children received a free membership to the NWTF’s Jakes club and a fishing derby t-shirt complements of the Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association.

Over 60 children (with accompanying adults) from surrounding counties came to the Black Warrior Work Center on the Bankhead National Forest to compete for trophies in three age categories. Contestants fished for approximately 1 ½ hours and the winners in each age group were decided by measuring the longest fish caught by each individual.

The largest fish overall was caught by Tylie Romero of Houston.

In the 5-6 year old age group, Robert Gilmore of Houston took the first place trophy.  Molly McDonald of Haleyville captured second place.

Braden Luker of Addison won the first place trophy in the 7 - 9 year old group.  Nena Garrison of Double Springs won the second place trophy.

In the 10 – 12 year old category, John Linley of Halyeville took the first place trophy and Tucker Beck of Nauvoo took the second place trophy. 

In addition to the fishing competition, a casting contest was held in which Tyden Steele of Houston won in the 5 – 6 year old division; Jon Hess of Haleyville won in the 7 – 9 year old division; and Brilyn Dover of Addison won the 10 – 12 year old division.  All three received a new rod and reel and tackle box as their prize. 

The Derby concluded with drawing for door prizes, awarding of trophies to contest winners and a hotdog lunch.  This year’s event was funded by a grant to the Winston County Natural Resources Council from the Winston County Commission, a grant from the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the US Forest Service.  Sponsors of the 2015 Kids Fishing Derby include the Double Springs Lions Club, the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Sipsey Strutters Moulton Chapter and Bankhead Beards and Spurs Winston County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association, Winston County Natural Resource Council, and the Bankhead National Forest. 

A big “THANK YOU” from Smokey Bear to everyone who continue to help make the Kids Fishing Derby a great success.

June Council Meeting

The June meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, June 18, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Mike Henshaw, Secretary

2015 Shortleaf Pine Field Day

Click here for more photos from the 2015 Shortleaf Pine Field Day near Moreland.

For more information about the event see the field day flyer at this link.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Smith Lake Slough Cleanup

Information from Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy:

Friday, May 22, 2015

2015 Youth Fishing Derby to be held Saturday, June 13

Minutes of May Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service office in Double Springs on May 21, 2015.  Present were John Creed, Allison Cochran, Mike Henshaw, Carl Godsey, John Sudduth, Andy Baril, and Tripp Gaskins.  The following topics were discussed:
  • The Bankhead National Forest Liaison Panel is evaluating the present membership and is looking to add new members, especially those with an interest in recreation.  If any one knows of an individual that would be interested in serving on the liaison panel, please contact Dave Casey.
  • Dr. Stone at Alabama A&M University is conducting a survey of landowners with feral swine.  If you have had feral swine on your property or know anyone that has, please get a copy of the survey from Allison, and return it to her or Dr. Stone.
  • Discussion of the TREASURE Forest program and other certification programs.  The TREASURE Forest program is promoted by the Alabama Natural Resource Council.
  • Allison discussed the upcoming Shortleaf Pine Field Day on Monday, June 15.  A walk-thru will be held on Wednesday, June 10, at 1:00 p.m. at the Wilson Farm.  Anyone guiding or driving a van will need to be at this walk thru to review the tour route.
  • Saturday, June 13, at 8:00 a.m. is the date for the 2015 Youth Fishing Derby at Black Warrior Work Center.  This event is for 5-12 year old youth, and they must be accompanied by an adult.  The WCNRC helps sponsor this event with funding each year.  
  • Mike will check on submitting Rural Schools Grants to Commission.  
  • Junior Ranger program for Double Springs 6th graders.  Allison has some good suggestions to improve the event next year.  The WCNRC sponsored the bus transportation for the youth this year.
  • A Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc. Cleanup will be held at Houston Recreation Area Boat Ramp on June 17 and 18.  Contact Allison for more information.
  • Invasive Plant Discussion.  The council will assist any private landowner that has cogongrass on their property.  If they cannot obtain NRCS EQIP assistance, the council will provide technical assistance, herbicides, and herbicide application equipment, at no charge in order to slow the spread of this pest in Winston County.  
  • Andy gave an update on the Emerald Ash Borer which he feels may have already entered the state, even though it has not been detected yet.  
  • Allison said that the Northern Long Eared bat has been listed as a threatened species with the interim 4(d) rule that provides flexibility to landowners, land managers, and government agencies as they conduct activities in northern long-eared bat habitat.  This bat is found in the Bankhead National Forest.
  • White nose disease of bats is probably still spreading in the U. S. and in Alabama, according to Allison.  However, little is known about the disease's spread, since so few of Alabama's thousands of caves have been checked.  She noted that there is a promising treatment for the disease that has been discovered by a researcher.  
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May Council Meeting

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Double Springs Students Attend Outdoor Classroom Event

Bankhead National Forest Host Double Springs Students For Outdoor Classroom

On Tuesday, May 12, about 70 Double Springs 6th graders visited the Payne Creek Shortleaf Pine Demonstration Area and Outdoor Classroom.  The students got into the woods for a day of learning and fun on the Bankhead National Forest.  Students learned about efforts to restore the shortleaf pine ecosystem in the south and how timber harvesting, silvicultural practices, and prescribed fire are used in those restoration efforts.  Students also learned about local wildlife and the benefits of forest management on native wildlife.  A learning station on archaeology enlightened students on people living in the Bankhead National Forest in the past.  The day ended with a hike to Payne Creek Canyon to view bluffs, a waterfall, rock house and unique plants growing along the stream.

Special thanks to everyone who made the day possible including the teachers and students in Winston County, the Bankhead National Forest staff, the Winston County Natural Resources Council for financial support, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources - Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Farmers Federation State Beef Tour Visits Sudduth Farm

John and Mary Sudduth recently hosted the Farmers Federation State Beef Tour on their farm.  The focus of this stop at the Sudduth farm was to see the silvopasture.  Approximately 40 people attended the tour.  After the tour, the Winston County Farmers Federation hosted a BBQ lunch for all the participants and speakers. Additional photos from the tour at at this link.

Bankhead Liaison Panel Public Meeting Scheduled, May 14 in Double Springs

The next meeting of the Bankhead Liaison Panel will be held Thursday, May, 14, 2015.  The meeting will be held from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the First National Bank in Double Springs, AL. 

Meeting topics will include:

§  Feral Swine Survey and Research Project Updates;

§  Native Understory Restoration Research Project;

§  Black Warrior Waterdog Proposal for Federal Listing and Critical Habitat Designation; and

§  A facilitated discussion on Bankhead National Forest’s Recreation Program. 


All members of the public interested in the Bankhead National Forest are invited to the Bankhead Liaison Panel meetings.  If you have any questions, please call the District Office at 205-489-5111.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Arley Women's Club Hosts Earth Day at Hamner Park

Arley Women's Club hosted Meek Elementary School students for an Earth Day event at Hamner Park.  Photos from the event are at this link:

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Public Meeting - Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy, Inc.

Everyone Welcome!

When? Friday, April 24, 2015 at 7 PM

Where? Traders & Farmers Bank Building, Arley

Why? Meet new & old friends on the Lake

Learn about volunteer efforts to keep Winston County & Smith Lake beautiful

Learn about the Bankhead National Forest and opportunities for outdoor recreation in your backyard

Elect officers and board members of your Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy, Inc.

Find out how you can participate in 2015 Renew Our River Clean-ups

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Minutes of April Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council meeting was held on Thursday, April 16, 2015.  Present were Matthew Brock, Mike Henshaw, Carl Godsey, John Creed, James Burnett, John Sudduth, and Andy Baril.  Topics discussed:
  • Shortleaf Pine Field Day.  Allison has prepared a draft agenda which we reviewed.  The field day will be held on Monday, June 15, 2015, from 8 a.m to 2 p.m. at Phil and Djuna Wilson's farm.  Allison has done a lot of the work on the agenda, but will need help with drivers, guides, and lunch servers.  A walk through will be held on Wednesday, June 10, to review the tour stops with van drivers.  A big turn out is expected, so many council members will be needed to help host the event.  
  • Fishing Derby will be held on Saturday, June 13, at the Black Warrior Work Center.
  • South Carolina's new rules on coyotes encourages residents to kill coyotes because they have a negative effect on the deer population.
  • Mr. Sudduth said that he will host the Farmers Federation Beef Tour at his farm on May 6, and the focus will be silvopasture.  50 to 60 people are expected to be in attendance.
  • Chris Erwin and another forester visited Mr. Godsey's forest land in Houston.  
  • Forest Certification Programs
  • Hog Trap has been returned from landowner, and is available, if needed.  Matthew Brock can provide technical assistance to landowners that want to use trapping to control feral swine.  Mr. Sudduth said that hogs have been causing problems on the McCrary Farm near Double Springs.
  • State budget cuts could close 15 of the 22 state parks in Alabama.  Matthew said that cuts could affect the Department of Conservation federal matching funds. James said that Emergency Management could lose a large number of employees and that the staff was already much smaller than just a few years ago.
Mike Henshaw
Secretary, WCNRC

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April Meeting of the WCNRC

The April meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, April 16, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

2015 Kids Fishing Derby

We have scheduled the Kids Fishing Derby on Bankhead for Saturday, June 13.  I hope you can all participate, as usual!  We will be in touch soon.  Just wanted to get the date marked on your calendar.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Marion County Landowners Meeting

Info from Tony Avery:

The Marion County Forestry Planning Committee will host a program for hunters and land managers on Thursday, March 19, 2015 at Oh Bryan’s Restaurant on Highway 17 in Hamilton Alabama at 6:30 p.m.  This is the same program that was cancelled due to weather last month.

Matt Brock with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries will update us on recent agencies information and recent regulation changes as well as Wildlife Management Area updates.

Matt Brock graduated from Mississippi State University in 2007, with a B.S. degree in Wildlife Science. He began his career with the MS Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries, and parks as a regional wildlife biologist, managing WMA habitat activities, public hunts, and assisting landowners with management activities. In 2011 he accepted a position with the National Wild Turkey Federation as a longleaf pine restoration and management biologist assisting landowners with longleaf pine establishment and management. Later in 2011, he began employment as the wildlife biologist on Black Warrior WMA with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. He is currently the wildlife biologist on Black Warrior WMA, Sam R. Murphy WMA, Fayette Public Disability Hunting Area, and Smith Lake Public Disability Hunting area, as well as the Turkey Committee representative for District 1. He resides in Double Springs with his wife, Kerin, and sons, Luke and John.

The meal will be Dutch treat. In order to better prepare for the program, please call the Alabama Cooperative Extension System office at 205-921-3551 on or before March 17, 2015 to indicate your attendance.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Minutes February Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council meeting was held at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs on February 19, 2015.  Present at the meeting were:  James Burnett, Mike Henshaw, Chris Erwin, John Creed, Carl Godsey, Allison Cochran, Andy Baril, Jody Tetlow, Rick Oates, Dave Casey, Johnna Franks, John Sudduth, Tony Avery, Travis McDonald, Kerry Clark, and Tripp Gaskin.  

The following subjects were discussed:
  • Chris Erwin, Director of Woodland Conservation at the American Forest Foundation, gave an overview of the Foundation's efforts to work with private landowners.  He also reviewed some of the efforts to educate landowners about the significance of shortleaf pine in the Southeast US.  Shortleaf pine has suffered a decline in it's historic range and prevalence in the Southeast and especially on the Cumberland Plateau.  To date, efforts to stem the decline include planting shortleaf on suitable sites, controlling invasive plants, restoring wildlife habitat, and streamside restoration.  Assistance to private landowners is available, and there is cooperation between the AFA, ACES, USFS, ATFA, AFC, and others.  Chris said that seven meetings to educate professional foresters have been held, including one in Cullman that had 75 foresters in attendance.  While shortleaf was historically widespread in Alabama, there will be two focus areas in Alabama for the educational efforts.  These are the Bankhead National Forest and the Skyline WMA, near Scottsboro.  These are areas where shortleaf has been planted and can serve as demonstration areas.  As part of this effort, a field day for private landowners, foresters, and loggers is tentatively planned for Monday, June 15, 2015, at Phillip and Djuna Wilson's Farm near Moreland.  This field day will be a team effort by the American Forest Foundation, the Bankhead National Forest, Alabama TREASURE Forest Association, and the Winston County Natural Resources Council.  
  • Rick Oates, ATFA, gave an update on the TREASURE Forest program.
  • Johnna said that the balance in the treasury is $6,757.22.
  • Tree Give-Away will be held on Thursday, February 26th. (note, this was postponed due to weather)
  • Dave Casey reported that the Secure Rural Schools funding was ending since it was not renewed by Congress.  These funds, which go to the Winston County Commission and Winston County Board of Education, will be cut sharply.
  • James gave an update on the severe weather forecast.
  • Tony said that Matthew Brock would present a program at the Marion County Landowners Meeting.
Mike Henshaw
Secretary WCNRC

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Road Conditions on Bankhead National Forest

Public Asked to Drive with Caution Due to Conditions on Bankhead National Forest Roads


(Double Springs, AL) March 2, 2015---- U.S. Forest Service officials are urging all forest users to limit their use of forest roads in the Bankhead National Forest.  If you need to drive on forest roads, please drive with caution for your safety and to reduce damage to the roads.  Forest roads were severely impacted by the recent snow event and freezing and thawing temperatures.  Heavy rainfall is predicted next week which will make road conditions worse.  Limited use is advised on all Forest Service roads.

“We are making every effort to ensure roads are safe and resources are protected,” said Dave Casey, district ranger for the Bankhead National Forest.  In some instances, when weather or road conditions cannot provide for safe use, or in periods critical to wildlife and other resources, roads may be closed temporarily. 

For more information about current road conditions or closures contact the Bankhead District Office at 205-489-5111 or the “Know Before You Go” section on the Forest Service website at

Owl Creek and Flint Creek Trail Systems on Bankhead National Forest Temporarily Closed

Owl Creek and Flint Creek Trail Systems on Bankhead National Forest Temporarily Closed to

Horse and Motorized Use 


(Double Springs, AL) March 3, 2015---- U.S. Forest Service officials have temporarily closed the Owl Creek and Flint Creek trail systems to horse and motorized use, effective March 3.  The unusual snow storm produced significant moisture when approximately 10 inches of snow fell on the trails.  Melting snow and recent rains have created saturated soils that are easily eroded. Both trails will remain open to hiking use.  As soon as conditions are sufficient to protect the trails, they will be opened to normal use.  Visitors can contact the Bankhead Ranger District for the current status. 

 According to Bankhead District Ranger Dave Casey, the soft trail conditions threaten the forest’s basic soil resource and can cause a hazard to riders in some places.  “We have recently invested substantial funds to improve the Owl Creek trail system and need sufficient time for the work to stabilize before horses and motorized equipment impact it,” said Casey. 

For more information about current trail and road conditions or closures contact the Bankhead District Office at 205-489-5111 or the “Know Before You Go” section at

Monday, March 2, 2015

Arbor Week Tree Give-Away

The annual Arbor Week tree give-away will be held on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at 9 a.m.  The tree giveaway will be held at the Alabama Forestry Commission's office at 225 Coats Street in Double Springs.  The office is located approximately .3 mile from the Winston County Courthouse, just off Blake Drive at the old TMA Sawmill site.  For more information call the Alabama Forestry Commission at (205) 489-5014.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February Council Meeting

The February meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, February 19, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs. 

We will have two guests, Chris Erwin, Director of Woodland Conservation at the American Forest Foundation, and Rick Oates with the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Minutes of January Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on January 15, 2015, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  The following persons were in attendance: Matthew Brock, Travis McDonald, James Burnett, John Sudduth, and Mike Henshaw.  These topics were discussed:

  • The Shortleaf Pine Workshop on January 29, 2015, in Cullman.
  • The Professional Logger Meeting on February 3, 2015, in Cullman.
  • Longleaf Pine Restoration program.
  • 4-H Shooting Sports Club is applying for National Rifle Association grant.
  • Mr. Sudduth said the Winston County Cattlemens annual meeting and steak supper is being held on January 31, at the Double Springs Municipal Building.
  • Matthew said that he now had additional responsibilities to manage the Sam Murphy Wildlife Management Area, the Lewis Smith Physically Disabled Hunting Area in Walker County, and the Fayette Physically Disabled Hunting Area.
  • Black Warrior WMA deer harvest was down this year, but hunter man-days were up.  There were only 78 deer harvested during gun hunts and 17 on archery hunts.  Matthew attributes the low harvest to low deer populations and less non-antlered deer hunting days.
  • Travis said that the Forest Service would be conducting prescribed burns soon as weather permits.  They will also be doing some shortleaf planting contracts and there is active logging contracts in progress.  The Forest Service is preparing for a bat tracking project in March where bats will be tagged and tracked by aircraft and ground equipment.  He also said that APHIS may hire a local worker to assist with feral pig management.  Finally, they are continuing to survey for golden eagles on the Bankhead.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 Landowner Incentive Program for Longleaf

January Meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council

The January meeting of the Winston County Natural Resources Council will be held at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, January 15, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.