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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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.