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.