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