Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Rain is a Gift to Firefighters as USDA Forest Service Lifts Fire Restrictions in Alabama’s National Forests

Firefighters debrief

Montgomery, AL (December 6, 2016) ---- The Forest Service announced today that the fire restrictions order for Alabama’s National Forests was terminated.  The much needed rain was a gift to firefighters that were battling large wildfires in the Talladega National Forest.  The fire restriction cancellation allows the public to build campfires in Forest Service recreation areas and throughout the Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega and Tuskegee National Forests.
The Forest Service has reopened National Forest System Roads (NFSR) 637 and 637B in the Talladega National Forest about 3 miles west of Cheaha State Park and Cheaha Road.  The Pinhoti National Recreation Trail and NFSRs 680 and 691 are re-open about 8 miles east of Sylacauga.  Lake Chinnabee Recreation Area is closed for the season.
According to Talladega District Ranger Gloria Nielsen, all wildfires in the Talladega National Forest, Talladega District are either contained or controlled.  “We appreciate our federal, state and volunteer firefighters who were dedicated to protecting Alabama communities from devastating wildfires,” said Nielsen. “After the recent rainfall, burnout activities and extensive mop-up operations, we are finally able to re-open closed areas.”  Forest Service officials advise all forest visitors to be careful in the national forests, particularly during high wind events, since wildfires may have burned tree roots making live or dead trees hazardous.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Governor announces grant to aid small farmers in northwest Alabama

MONTGOMERY— Gov. Robert Bentley has announced a $30,477 grant to improve the sustainability of small farms in northwest Alabama and provide fresh foods to buyers.  
Funds from the Appalachian Regional Commission will be used to construct and demonstrate the advantage of cool-storage trailers in transporting agricultural crops and livestock to farmers in Winston, Franklin and Marion counties. The appropriation is part of a continuing project by the Northwest Alabama Resource Conservation and Development Council to assist farmers throughout northwest Alabama.
“Farmers and small businesses are essential to a healthy Alabama economy,” Bentley said. “This grant is vital in providing small farmers with an additional means to compete and succeed, and it is another way in which farms can provide buyers with fresh, nutritious food.”
Two refrigerated trailers will be constructed to assist 20 farmers in the three counties. Several teaching demonstrations will also be conducted to show farmers and buyers the advantage of harvesting and delivering farm-fresh products. The farmers will be able to use the trailers at no cost to deliver their goods to markets.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs manages the ARC program in Alabama.
“Agribusiness is a top industry in Alabama, and this cooperative effort is a formula that helps us respond to community needs and supporting local and state economies,” ADECA Director Jim Byard Jr. said. “ADECA has strong partnerships with agriculture, and I am pleased to see this grant awarded to benefit farmers in Winston, Franklin and Marion counties.”
ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments. The agency’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.
ADECA manages a range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, recreation, energy conservation and water resource management.  

At Risk Wildlife in South, Family Forest Owners are solution

At Risk wildlife in South, Family Forest Owners are solution

Monday, December 5, 2016

Drought Emergency ‘No Burn’ Lifted Statewide

For more information, visit this link:

Livestock Indemnity Program for Livestock Lost in Storms

Storm damage to hay barn on Helicon Road.

We recently spoke with Tim Malone, County Executive Director for Winston County Farm Service Agency Office, about a Winston County livestock producer that had lost several animals in one of the tornadoes that hit the county on the night of November 29.  He said that the producer should contact the Farm Service Agency Office in Hamilton at (205) 921-3103 ext.2.  Malone said “the Livestock Indemnity Program can help producers that have livestock deaths due to these storms.”

Producers that have losses should document with photos or video.  They should keep purchase records, veterinarian records, tax records, insurance documents, and other similar documents.   If the livestock are missing, as is often the case after tornadoes, the producer should have neighbors and family members familiar with the farm provide a written statement about their knowledge of the livestock deaths along with name, address, phone number, and their affiliation with the livestock owner.  More information about the Livestock Indemnity Program is available at this link:

Malone said that in light of the extensive damage from the storms, the Winston/Marion Farm Service Agency County Committee has also applied for the Emergency Conservation Program.  If approved, this could allow producers to get assistance for repairing fences, getting downed trees out of pastures, getting downed trees off fences, and picking up scattered roof tin and other debris out of pastures and hay fields.  While the Emergency Conservation Program has not been approved yet, Malone urges producers to document damage with photos, and keep records of time worked repairing damage and clearing debris.  Malone gave an example of a producer using a tractor with a loader to pick up debris out of a pasture.  If the producer used the tractor for eight hours, then his eight hours of labor could be counted at $8-10 per hour, and the eight hours the tractor was in use would also count at another hourly rate.  If the producer also hired a backhoe operator at $75 per hour, he would need to keep the receipts for that work.  These records will be crucial if the Emergency Conservation Program is approved later.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November 29, 2016 Storm Damage

Several areas of the county suffered storm damage on the night of November 29, 2016.  One of these areas was on County Road 77 near Helican, Alabama, on the eastern side of Winston County.  Here is a short video showing just a sample of the damage.  Click full screen icon on lower right after clicking play button to see in more detail.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Current Fire Conditions Websites

Photo from U. S. Forest Service website

Visit these websites for Current Fire Conditions:

U. S. Forest Service

Alabama Forestry Commisson

Frontliners - Fire Danger Flyers

Click on any of these flyers below for a printable PDF.

News Release from Alabama Partners for Wildfire Prevention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE        November 20, 2016                                                 
Forest Service- Heather O’Hanlon/Tammy Freeman Brown - 334-832-4470;

Alabama Forestry Commission  Mike Kyser/Elisha Ballentine – 334-240-9300

Shooting Star Wildfire on Talladega National Forest Burns At Night in a Longleaf Pine Forest

Top Federal and State Forestry Management Organizations Unite to Protect Alabama Communities
(Montgomery, Al)  November 20, 2016 ----The USDA Forest Service and the Alabama Forestry Commission are taking an all lands approach to protect Alabama communities and natural resources from dangerous wildfires.  The long-standing partnership unites numerous federal, state and local fire specialists to respond to wildfire emergencies that impact all boundaries. Since October 1, approximately 1,860 wildfires have burned over 24,000 acres in Alabama.

Safety is a number one concern of land managers for forest visitors, especially hunters, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts who utilize the forest during the fall season.

Help us prevent wildfires.  Report arson or suspicious activities by calling 1-800-654-0775; share Forest Service and Alabama Forestry Commission fire prevention messages through social media contacts; document the drought to assist natural resource managers to monitor impacts by uploading georeferenced photos of rivers, lakes and streams with the hashtag #documentthedrought and adhere to the statewide burn ban that includes Alabama’s National Forests.   

           For more information about fire restrictions or the no burn order, visit these websites:, or contact the U.S. Forest Service - 334-832-4470 and the Alabama Forestry Commission- 334-240-9357.                                                         

Friday, November 18, 2016

Hunters Reminded Statewide Burn Ban in Effect

Press Release
November 17, 2016
Contact: Wildlife Section, 334-242-3469

Hunters Reminded Statewide Burn Ban in Effect

Due to severe drought conditions across much of the state, an increased risk of wildfire exists when hunters return to the woods for the opening of gun deer season on November 19. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) reminds hunters that a statewide no burn order is in effect. The burn ban affects all outdoor burning including campfires on private lands, all Wildlife Management Areas and in Alabama’s National Forests.

“Until we get sufficient precipitation, the woodlands of Alabama are very prone to wildfires,” said Keith Gauldin, ADCNR’s Wildlife Section Chief.  “We encourage hunters to remain cautious and avoid building any campfires during this period until we get some much-needed rain.”

According to the Alabama Forestry Commission, there have been 1,749 wildfires in the state since October 1, 2016, burning more than 21,000 acres. Currently, all 67 Alabama counties are included in the no burn order, which will be in effect until further notice. Penalties for violating the burn ban include up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

To lower the risk of accidentally starting a wildfire this hunting season, please practice these fire prevention tips.

Avoid parking in tall dry grass. Vehicle exhaust pipes can potentially ignite the grass.
Be mindful of any sparks generated by discharging a firearm.
Do not discard cigarette butts from a vehicle window or near any potential fire source.
When hauling a trailer avoid dragging chains. Sparks generated against the pavement can ignite grass along the roadway.
If possible, carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle.

“The most successful hunting trip is a safe one,” Gauldin said. “With this year’s prolonged drought, that includes practicing wildfire prevention.”

For more information about current drought conditions and the state’s no burn order, visit

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.  To learn more about ADCNR, visit


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Minutes of the November Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs on November 17, 2016.  Present were Mike Henshaw, Matthew Brock, Kerri Roberts, Travis McDonald, Casey Hammack, and Daks Kennedy.  Johnna Franks, Treasurer, emailed that the balance in the treasury is $1,786.97.  She also noted that the total cost of FAWN this year was $1,551.54, but this was artificially low because t-shirts were already on hand and not purchased this year.  Transportation cost was the largest expense at $1,064.16.  The following topics were discussed:
  • Firewise programs will be submitted to the Winston County Commission to cover some of the costs for the FAWN program and the Fishing Derby.  
  • Drought issues on the Bankhead and in other areas of Winston County.  There are concerns about tree health, pine beetles, aquatic organisms, wildlife, feral hog damage to critical mussel habitat, cattle forage and water sources, and lake and creek levels.
  • Matt said that Kevin Pugh has undergone back surgery and will be out for several months recovering.  Matt will help cover the Black Warrior WMA during popular hunts while Kevin is out.  
  • On the WMA, the number of deer harvested is up, and many of the deer have been large.  Matt said that the acorn crop is tremendous this year, but other forage for deer is very scarce.  Food plots have almost no growth.  He is concerned that deer may be in poor condition later this winter due to the drought.
  • Daks gave an update on the status of the district office.  He will be serving as the Acting Ranger on Bankhead National Forest until December 10.  Then, Jessica Blackwell will serve until January 21, and Andy Casey will serve in that capacity until March 4.  He also noted some of the adjustments in staffing that have come about due to wildfires and concerns about the drought conditions.
  • Casey gave an update on the wildfires that the Forestry Commission has been working.  He said that they had recently worked two arson fires, but had not had as many fires as some other counties.
  • Travis gave a report on the wildlife activities he has been working on.  Wildfires have taken up some staff time.  They have completed the nighttime deer survey on the Bankhead, and are preparing for a Golden Eagle survey on the Bankhead.  
  • Kerri gave an update on the 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Team and is recruiting some of our local wildlife biologists for technical help on coaching the Winston County team.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Drought Effects on Some Popular Sites in the Bankhead National Forest

Made a video from some visits to some popular sites like the Sipsey Fork at Highway 33, Thompson Creek trailhead (0:34), Kinlock Falls(0:54), Houston Recreation Area (1:53), Brushy Lake (2:42), Borden Creek Trailhead (3:42), and the Sipsey Fork at the Picnic area (3:53).  The most shocking was Thompson Creek, which was totally dried up, and Borden Creek, which had only small pools that were about a hundred yards apart.  Borden also had some hog sign where pigs had flipped large rocks to forage for food items that might be under them.  Make the video full screen by clicking square icon on lower right of video.

November Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, November 17, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Thompson Creek on November 11, 2016.  Not even pools of water within sight from the bridge.

Monday, November 7, 2016

News Release from National Forests in Alabama

Fees Waived on Veteran’s Day at U.S. Forest Service Recreation Sites in Alabama’s National Forests

[MONTGOMERY, AL] November 7, 2016 – The U.S. Forest Service will waive fees at most of its day-use recreation sites in Alabama’s National Forests on Nov. 11 in honor of Veteran’s Day. The U.S. Forest Service offers five fee-free days annually.  The scheduled fee-free days observed by the Forest Service are National Public Land’s Day, Veteran’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, President’s Day and National Get Outdoors Day. Visitors are asked to plan trips by visiting the Forest Service website at or contacting a Forest Service office.

Fees will be waived at the following day-use recreation sites throughout Alabama’s national forests on the national observances:

Bankhead National Forest – Double Springs, AL (334) 489-5111

Brushy Lake Recreation Day Use Area & Boat Launch, Natural Bridge Day Use Area, Owl Creek Day Use, Pine Torch Trailhead, Sipsey River Day Use Area, Flint Creek Multiple Use Trail, Pine Torch Trailhead and Hurricane Creek Shooting Range (Picnic shelter rentals are not included in the fee waiver}.                                                                       


Conecuh National Forest – Andalusia, AL (334) 222-2555

  Open Pond Campground


Talladega National Forest

Oakmulgee District – Brent, AL   (205) 926-9765
Payne Lake Campground, Vick Firing Range and South Sandy Shooting Range

Shoal Creek District – Heflin, AL (256) 463-2273
Henry Creek Shooting Range, Warden Station Trailhead, Warden Station Horse Camp Day Use,

Coleman Lake Day Use Area and Pine Glen Day Use Area

Talladega District – Talladega, AL (256) 362-2909
Shepherd Branch Shooting Range, Lake Chinnabee  Day Use Area, Kentuck ORV Trailhead and Turnipseed Day Use Area


Tuskegee National Forest – Tuskegee, AL (334) 727-2652

Uchee Shooting Range



USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

FAWN Sixth Graders Write Thank You Notes

Click this link to see all the FAWN thank you letters.

Winston County Designated as Extreme Drought County, Livestock Producers to get Assistance

Winston County has been designated as suffering from an extreme drought also known as (D3) by the U. S. Drought Monitor.  This means that livestock producers will be eligible for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program through the Farm Service Agency (FSA).  This program is to compensate livestock producers for grazing losses during the drought.  This compensation can be used to purchase hay and feed to substitute for lost grazing.

The FSA will begin accepting applications on November 1 and continue until January 30, 2017.  Producers will need to have their livestock inventory on hand as of August 26, 2016.  Specifically, they will need the number of adult cows, bulls, and bred heifers, and the number of heifers and young bulls over 500 pounds.  Goats and sheep, and some other kinds of grazing livestock are also eligible.  Horses used for breeding and for sale may be eligible, however, those used for recreation, pleasure, or show are not.  The producer should have any sales tickets for livestock that were sold after August 26, 2016.

Leased acreage must have a signed written lease agreement, even if no rent is charged on the pasture.  The FSA has a sample lease form that may be used for this purpose.  The grazing acreage should be identified on an aerial photograph.  If the grazing acreage was not certified by November, 2015, then there will be a $46 late filing fee per farm.

If the producer has not previously signed up on other FSA programs, he or she will need their Social Security number, mailing address, phone number, email address, and a blank voided check to sign up for direct deposit.  The FSA recommends that producers call the office before visiting in person, so that they can pull some of the required documents prior to the visit.

For more information on the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, please call the Farm Service Agency at (205) 921-3103, ext 2.

Estate Planning Seminar to be held in Double Springs

Alabama Cooperative Extension System is currently offering free seminars on estate planning. Many people may not know what estate planning is or why it is important.  Estate planning is important for individuals who wish to have some control over transferring property before and after his/her death.  With proper planning, families can avoid many of the problems associated with dividing a family member’s assets.

If you are interested in learning more about 1)  How to Make an Informed Decision by Avoiding Investment Fraud;  2)  Alabama’s Plan for Your Estate,  3)  Documents in An Estate Plan, and  4)  Should I make a Will or Trust.  Please plan to attend this free seminar on Wednesday, November 2, 2016, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, at the Traders and Farmers Bank Bernice Hilton Walker Building, upstairs room, located at 64 Main Street, in Double Springs.

Dr. Robert Tufts, Estate Planning Attorney and Auburn University Professor, will present information and answer questions relating to estate planning topics.  Call the Winston County Extension Office at (205) 489-5376 to pre-register for this free seminar no later than noon on October 31st, due to limited seating.  Refreshments will be provided for all participants.  This program is being sponsored by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Traders and Farmers Bank.  For more information, contact Pat W. Smith, Regional Extension Agent at 256-710-7706 or e-mail:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Camp McDowell Tour

Maggie Johnston hosted the Winston County Natural Resources Council on a tour of the Camp McDowell at our last council meeting.  Here's a few photos from the tour, but there are more at this link.  Thanks to Maggie for taking time to show us around, updating us on the new programs such as the Magnolia Nature School and the McDowell Farm School, and for providing our lunch.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October Council Meeting

The October meeting of the Council will be a field trip to Camp McDowell.  Our plan is to meet at the U. S. Forest Service office and carpool to the camp.  We will depart from the Forest Service office at 9:30 a.m., on Thursday, October 20.  If you would prefer, you can drive directly to Camp McDowell and meet us at the welcome center at 10:00 a.m.

At present, I have the following individuals signed up to attend:
Mike Henshaw, Kerri Roberts, Wade Hill, Blake Addison, Johnna Franks, Andy Baril, John Creed, Travis McDonald, Matt Brock, Jeremy McDonald, and Casey Hammack.

After the tour, we will eat lunch at the camp, and we need to let them know how many folks we will have.  If you would like to attend and are not listed, please let me know as soon as possible.

Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday.

Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Game Check Seminar

A Game Check Seminar was held in Double Springs on October 11, 2016.  21 hunters and several other Department of Conservation and Natural Resources officials.  Matt Brock, North AL Private Lands Technical Assistance Biologist, with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, taught the seminar about the new mandatory Game Check.

To see more photos, click on this link:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

News Release from the National Forests in Alabama - Fees Waived at Recreation Areas in Celebration of National Public Land's Day

Fees Waived at U.S. Forest Service Recreation Sites in Alabama’s National Forests
[MONTGOMERY, AL] September 19, 2016 –The public can enjoy waived fees this Saturday for National Public Land’s Day and during other national observances at most of Alabama’s national forests’ day-use recreation sites.

The U.S. Forest Service offers five fee-free days annually.  The scheduled fee-free days observed by the Forest Service are National Public Land’s Day - September 24, Veteran’s Day - November 11, Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday - January 16, 2017, President’s Day – February 20, 2017 and National Get Outdoors Day on June 10, 2017. Visit the National Forest Service website for more information.

Fees will be waived at the following day-use recreation sites throughout Alabama’s national forests on the national observances dates:

Bankhead National Forest – Double Springs, AL (334) 489-5111
Brushy Lake Recreation Area, Day Use Area & Boat Launch, Houston Recreation Area, Day Use Area, Natural Bridge Day Use Area, Owl Creek Day Use, Pine Torch Trailhead, Sipsey River Day Use Area
Conecuh National Forest – Andalusia, AL (334) 222-2555
Open Pond Campground 

Talladega National Forest
Oakmulgee District – Brent, AL   (205) 926-9765
Payne Lake Campground

Shoal Creek District – Heflin, AL (256) 463-2273
Henry Creek Shooting Range and Warden Station Trail System

Talladega District – Talladega, AL (256) 362-2909
Shepherd Branch Shooting Range 

Tuskegee National Forest – Tuskegee, AL (334) 727-2652
Uchee Shooting Range

Monday, September 19, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fall Renew Our Rivers Cleanups on Smith Lake – Volunteer Opportunity!

WCSLAI Clean up at Lakeshore, October, 2014.

Information from Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Incorporated:

Thursday, October 6, 2016:
The Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy will host a cleanup at the Houston Recreation Area with volunteer sign-in at 8:30 am. We will have the Alabama Power Renew Our Rivers Boat, the WCSLA boat, and a board member’s pontoon boat. Other volunteers’ boats will also be greatly appreciated! Volunteers will receive a free t-shirt and lunch will be served about 1:30 pm. Trash bags and water will be available prior to launch. Please bring your own life jacket (REQUIRED for boats), insect repellent, and snacks. For more information contact Jim Eason at Any volunteers who may need proof of community service will receive an official document.

Friday and Saturday, October 7-8, 2016:
The Smith Lake Environmental Protection Committee (SLEPC) will host a 2-day cleanup at Smith Lake Park in Cullman County. Sign-in will be at 8:00 am. For more information contact Lynn Martin at or Jim Murphy at .

Minutes of September Meeting

John Creed, Mike Henshaw, Allison Cochran, Kerri Roberts and Andy Baril.
The Winston County Natural Resources Council met on September 15, 2016, at the U. S. Forest Service in Double Springs.  Present were John Creed, Mike Henshaw, Allison Cochran, Kerri Roberts, and Andy Baril.  The following topics were discussed:
  • FAWN programs on October 13-14.  Most of the learning stations have been confirmed, and we have a Skins and Skulls as a spare station.  The FAWN walk-thru will be held at 9:00 a.m., on Wednesday, October 12, at Houston Rec Area.
  • Firewise Program at Houston Recreation Area.
  • Firewise Program at the Black Warrior Work Center.
  • Firewise trailer proposal.
  • We are tentatively planning on a Camp McDowell Tour for our October council meeting. Camp McDowell has added many facilities and educational programs in the last year, so even if you have been there before you will see new improvements.
  • Landowner meeting flyer was mailed to loggers since the program was in Jasper and included 6.0 Professional Logging Manager Points.  Andy Baril said well over 110 people were in attendance.
  • Game Check programs in Moulton and Double Springs.
  • Right Bite Healthy Eating/Diabetic Cooking School in Haleyville beginning September 21.
  • Andy gave a report on the Health Action Committee in Jasper.  Some of the group's projects include Walking to School programs, Walker County Lake master plan, hiking trails, mountain bike trails, possible conference center at the lake, R. V. Park, and kayak rentals.
  • A Bankhead Liaison Panel meeting will be held on Thursday, September 29, at the First National Bank in Double Springs.  The recreation committee report and recreation will the focus of this meeting.
  • Landowner Tour in Tuscaloosa on November 3.
  • Winston County received Outstanding Council of the Year Award.
  • September 19 - 26 is Leave No Trace Week.  Allison said there would be a Leave No Trace hotspot at Delano Park in Decatur.
  • Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy will sponsor a Smith Lake Cleanup on October 6, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Houston Recreation Area.
  • Kerri Roberts, 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agent, introduced herself and said that she would be starting to meet with 4-H Clubs in the schools in October.  She will also meet with special interest clubs and community clubs soon.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Renew Our Rivers - Smith Lake Clean-up - October 6th at Houston Recreation Area, Bankhead National Forest

Join the Alabama Power Company and Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy Inc for a Renew Our Rivers lake clean-up on October 6th.  Volunteers with and without boats are encouraged to come out, clean up litter and help keep Smith Lake and Winston County clean and beautiful!  Boats will launch from Houston Recreation Area on October 6th.  Please arrive at the Houston Rec Area boat ramp by 8:30.  Bring water, sunscreen and a life vest if you have one.  Trash bags and gloves will be provided. We will not accept household trash or Styrofoam or other dock flotation.  We are only accepting litter collected from Smith Lake.  Contact the Winston County Smith Lake Advocacy at to volunteer, for information, or to sponsor this or future Renew Our Rivers clean-ups.

Bankhead National Forest Liaison Panel Meeting Scheduled for Sept 29th at First National Bank in Double Springs

Bankhead National Forest Liaison Panel Meeting Scheduled

The next Bankhead National Forest Liaison Panel Meeting is set for September 29th.  The meeting will be held on the second floor of the First National Bank in Double Springs from 6:00 – 8:30 PM.  The majority of this meeting will be spent discussing the work that the Recreation Working Group has completed to date and getting feedback from Liaison Panel members and the general public so please make every effort to attend.  The public is invited to learn more about the future of recreation on the Bankhead National Forest.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September Meeting of the WCNRC

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

The main items for discussion will be related to the upcoming FAWN programs on October 13 and 14.


Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Friday, August 19, 2016

Minutes of August Council Meeting

August 18th Meeting of the WCNRC
In attendance Johnna, John and Allison.
Treasurer’s Report:  $2,400.94
  • Discussion on dwindling funds and ideas for fund raising.  Charge to WCNRC members – Come up with fund-raising/funding ideas.
  • Follow-up with ACEOA and Smith Lake Advocacy on funding request.
  • Marion County charges for advertisements on their FAWN t-shirts, something like $100/ad.  This has really helped them build up some budget. A good idea to consider for WCNRC.  
  • Tree Sale is another idea.  Johnna can check and see what might be available for this winter, but we didn’t order anything to be grown for a sale this year. 
  • Want to try to order and have a good sale in Winter 2018 for sure. See what we can do for Winter 2017.
  • Fawn – Didn’t get the $500 Legacy grant for t-shirts’s this year.  Have some leftover shirts from another year that may get us through this year.
  • Need dates, shooting for October.  Johnna will work on getting the dates from the schools.  Houston Rec Area will be the site again this year.  Again, need to come up with some funding ideas.
  • Johnna nominated the WCNRC for Council of the Year.
  • Discussion on Treasure Forest training that several of us attended at Wheeler this month.  Ideas for developing/recruiting great Treasure Forests and continuing to work with existing Treasure Forests in the county.  Continue to work on and discuss.  Joel Glover to provide us with an example of how his council works on this program.
  • Discussion on on-going work on Forest and in the County.  AFC – Johnna and Casey – are prepping fire lines for this years prescribed burns.
  • Bankhead welcomes a new Silviculturist, Jason Harris from the Mark Twain NF in MO.
  • Several folks out west supporting national wildfires.  Alabama sent a handcrew with GA/FL out west.
  • Upcoming meetings seminars – 

Allison Cochran

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Game Check Seminar to be held in Moulton

August Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, August 18, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Fall Armyworms are Damaging Winston County Hayfields and Patures

There have been reports of damaging populations of fall armyworms in Winston County pastures and hayfields.

For more information on these pests, click on the following links:

Management of Fall Armyworms in Pastures and Hayfields

Map of Fall Armyworms Infestations by Counties in Alabama

Insect and Weed Control Recommendations for Pastures and Hayfields

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July Council Meeting Minutes

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service office in Double Springs.  Present were Mike Henshaw, Allison Cochran, Wade Hill, Tim Malone, James Burnett, Lee Holt, and Rob Hurt.  The following items were discussed:

  • Lee Holt and Rob Hurt came to update the council on the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.  Lee works with the program in the central part of Alabama from the Tennessee River to Montgomery.  The mission of the Partners program is to efficiently achieve voluntary habitat restoration on private lands, through financial and technical assistance, for the benefit of Federal Trust Species.  They can work with municipalities, counties, private landowners, and non-profits.  The Partners program is not available on Federal lands, and very limited on state lands.  Lee and Rob gave examples of projects such as old culvert removal to restore fish movement, stream bank stabilization, and bridge construction that have been conducted through the Partners program.  They noted that the Partners program is available to landowners in Winston County.  Their projects usually have a 5 year agreement, and strive to have a 50% cost share from another partner on the project.  Wade and Tim noted that EQIP and CRP can often fit into a landowner's need to implement a practice in Partners projects.  For more information, contact Lee at (256)-929-0137 or email at
  • Tim noted that CRP has changed somewhat in the new farm bill.  It has a $100 per acre incentive payment, a 15 year term, $50 per acre per year rental payment.  When planting pines, he said that the landowner can get almost 90% of the cost of planting pines covered, if they wait until the second year to plant the trees.  He also said that nationwide, the program had been cut somewhat in the new farm bill.
  • Discussed the Native Grass Field Day and Landowner Tour that was conducted recently near Autaugaville, Alabama.  Jeff Hendrix and I attended the event hosted by the Autauga Forestry and Wildlife Stewardship Council.  Some photos from the tour were shared with the council.  Rob said the Partners program has a Truax native grass seed no-till drill available for landowners planting native grasses.  He said that over 2,000 acres of native grass have been planted on private lands with that drill.
  • The Winston County 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program team successfully competed at the state competition in Auburn.  The junior team placed second, and the senior team placed fourth.  The council voted to provide up to $200 for the teams' expenses in travelling to Auburn to the two-day competition.
  • Livestock owners are urged to be on the lookout for poisonous perilla mint plants in pastures.  If the late summer weather turns dry, it could cause grazing animals to feed on the plants.  The plant can cause lung damage and a slow death.  Perilla probably kills more livestock than any other poisonous plant in Alabama. 
  • Northwest Alabama RC&D office has moved to 909 George Wallace Blvd. St C, Tuscumbia.  
  • Wade noted that he needs more EQIP applications, especially from Winston County landowners.  Practices include tree planting, esp. shortleaf, cross fencing, livestock water development, privet control, high use areas, stream crossings, and many others.  Applications should preferably be in by September, but can be accepted at any time.  For more information call Wade Hill, at (205) 921-3103.
  • James noted that there will likely be a Heat Advisory issued by the Weather Service.  Heat index will be in the 105-115 range.
  • Allison said construction work would start soon on the Rush Creek Bridge replacement.
  • Allison, Wade, and I are planning to attend the Certified TREASURE Forest Inspector Training, that will be held in Decatur on August 9.
  • Dr. Gary Lemme, Director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, will be in Double Springs on August 29, at 9:00 a.m., to present the Winston County Commission with the Centennial Youth Initiative Award.  
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Monday, July 18, 2016

2016 Bat Festival

 Alabama Bat Festival Flyer

July Council Meeting

The Winston County Natural Resources Council will meet at 9:00 a.m., on Thursday, July 21, at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs.  Allison Cochran has invited Lee Holt, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Private Lands Biologist, and Josh Melson, the newly hired County Extension Coordinator with the Lawrence County Extension Office, to attend the meeting.  Please attend and meet these professionals that work in our area.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Alabama Water Watch Training - Water Chemistry Monitoring

Jul 15,2016 -     Time: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Trainers: Eric Reutebuch and Stephen Morros Workshop Contact Phone: 334-844-4785 Workshop Contact Email: Workshop Location: 330 County Road 187 Crane Hill, AL 35053 Please wear clothes and shoes that you don't mind getting wet or dirty. Please bring a sack lunch and something to drink. If it's sunny, consider sunscreen and a hat - if weather permits, there will be fieldwork.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

June Meeting Minutes

The Winston County Natural Resources Council met at the U. S. Forest Service Office in Double Springs on June 16, 2016.  Allison Cochran and Mike Henshaw were present.  The following items were discussed:

  • Game Check Seminar Series
  • Forest Service Maps now available on Maps on the Go App
  • 4-H Mud Run in Cullman County.  For more info:
  • Job posting for Winston County 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agent at this link:
  • Auburn Cumberland Plateau Meeting on June 22.
  • Shortleaf Pine Restoration Plan announcement this week.
  • Hamner Park in Arley
  • Wildflower meadows at Russell Cave National Monument
  • Allison met with 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Team for a training session at Addison.
  • Allison said there were 49 youth at the fishing derby on June 4.  The WCNRC contributed $308.87 towards the event this year.  Other sponsors included the U. S. Forest Service, Conservation Enforcement Officers Association, Wild Turkey Federation, Double Springs Lions Club, and Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.
Mike Henshaw, Secretary

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June Council Meeting

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

Monday, June 13, 2016

Children Enjoy Fishing on Bankhead National Forest

The Bankhead National Forest held the 24th annual “Kids Fishing Derby” on Saturday, June 4 in celebration of National Fishing and Boating Week. The Forest Service, which hosts the yearly event to help interest young people in wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation, stocked a pond with about 400 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.

Forty-nine 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 Brooks Kachelman of Florence.

In the 5-6 year old age group, Brice Gilliland of Moulton took the first place trophy.  Tori Walker of Ralph, AL captured second place.

A.C. Holcomb of Double Springs won the first place trophy in the 7 - 9 year old group.  Tanner Garcia of Double Springs and Ella Adair of Houston won second place.

In the 10 – 12 year old category, Brody Massey of Double Springs took the first place trophy.  Austin Henley of Trinity and Tylie Romero of Houston took second place.

In addition to the fishing competition, a casting contest was held in which Slade Riddle of Addison won in the 5 – 6 year old division; Wriley Ritch of Danville won in the 7 – 9 year old division; and Zane Kenum of Danville 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 2016 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.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Local Students Learn About Their National Forest at Outdoor Classroom

About 100 students and teachers from Double Springs Middle School and Curry High School got outdoors for a fun and experiential learning opportunity on May 3.  The students came to the Payne Creek Demonstration Area on Bankhead National Forest for an Outdoor Classroom event.  Partners from the Bankhead National Forest and Alabama Cooperative Extension shared lessons about forest management including wildlife management, fire management, timber and silviculture programs, archaeology and shortleaf pine restoration. 

The Payne Creek Demonstration Area is a site on Bankhead that shows visitors and students alike an active, working forest.  Shortleaf pine woodland restoration is on-going at the site, with active timber harvest, midstory removal, shortleaf reforestation and prescribed burning of the uplands.  Visitors and students can also visit the Payne Creek Canyon, a beautiful canyon and stream at the end of the Payne Creek walking trail.  In the canyon, students learn about the importance of clean water and riparian forests to animals, plants and people!

To learn more about the Payne Creek Demonstration Area, including directions or inquiries about outdoor classroom events, please call the Bankhead National Forest at (205) 489-5111.

A special thank you goes out to the local schools and the Winston County Natural Resources Council for making this great day possible.