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