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



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