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Longleaf Pine Forest

The mission of the Alabama Extension Forestry, Wildlife, and Natural Resources Team is to provide the latest science-based information available to make decisions regarding the management of natural resources.

Forest products and recreation contribute more than $12.5 billion to Alabama’s economy and employ 111,000 Alabamians with a payroll of $3.4 billion per year. Alabamians spend 10.5 million visitor days and $913 million a year enjoying the state’s wildlife resources. Our experts work across the state to provide timely, science-based information on all aspects of natural resource management to the people of Alabama.

Wildlife Management: Enhancement and Damage

An Extension specialist talking to childrenThe Wildlife Management Enhancement and Damage project assists clients in managing wildlife aspects of Alabama’s natural resources. Management efforts involve programs and one-on-one contacts to improve wildlife habitat or to minimize or eliminate damage caused by wildlife. Enhancement programs cover topics ranging from backyard birds to food plots for deer. Damage management programs cover a range of topics as diverse as bats in the attic to wild pigs.

Backyard Wildlife Damage Management

Project Leaders: Bence Carter, John Ollison, Jim Armstrong

Extension Collaborators: Forestry, Wildlife, and Natural Resources Associated Specialists, Regional Extension Agents, County Extension Coordinators

Background: Backyard wildlife damage and legal ways to address those problems comprise a significant amount of work for regional Extension agents and specialists. These activities may be in the form of one-on-one contacts (e.g., phone calls, emails, office visits) or structured educational programs. Backyard wildlife damage programs focus on vertebrate species that may cause structural damage or damage to yards and ornamentals. These programs may also focus on vertebrate species that pose health threats. Topics include squirrels, chipmunks, moles, voles, commensal rodents, bats, snakes, and white-tailed deer. The goal of these activities is educating clients to identify damage and take actions necessary to eliminate damage. This may involve contacting a professional or using Extension materials to address the problem themselves.

Collaborators: USDA Wildlife Services, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division

Number of Participants: 160

Audience Diversity: 56% male, 44% female, 68% white, 32% black

Conservative Direct Impact Estimate: $32,000 (using a conservative estimate of $200 per call; based on cost for professional assistance)

Return on Investment: 22:1

A wild pig

Wild Pig Damage Management

Project Leaders: Mark Smith, Chris Jaworowski

Extension Collaborator: Bence Carter

Background: Wild pigs are found in nearly all 67 Alabama counties and cause more than $55 million a year in agricultural and forestry damage. This project provides hands-on technical training to landowners and natural resource professionals who work with landowners (i.e., train the trainer). Practical, cost- effective and time-effective approaches for reducing or eliminating local populations of wild pigs are provided resulting in reductions in agricultural and natural resource damage. This project used multiple approaches including in-person seminars and demonstrations, print and electronic publications, and short how-to videos available on YouTube to reach a diverse audience in Alabama.

Collaborators: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, USDA Wildlife Services, Alabama Farmers Federation, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, National Wild Turkey Federation

Number of Participants: 458

Audience Diversity: 98% male, 2% female; 97% white, 3% black

Evaluation Techniques: Event surveys, in-person technical assistance

Adoption Rate: 99%

Conservative Direct Impact Estimate: $1.1 million in damage reduction on more than 218,000 acres of farm land and forestland in Alabama

Key Project Resources: Wild Pig Education Unit Trailer, Landowner’s Guide to Wild Pig Management, Alabama Extension Fresh from the Field Wild Pig How-To YouTube Video Series

Return on Investment: 80:1

Family Forests: Increasing Enjoyment and Value from the Backyard to the Back Forty

Project Leader: Becky Barlow

Extension Collaborators:
Forestry, Wildlife, and Natural Resource Management Regional Agents

Background: Most landowners indicate that they would like to generate revenue from their land but believe that financial opportunities and benefits are limited. With
its broad reach, this project offers forest landowners educational opportunities and land management tools that promote multiple-use management and revenue production from forestland. In 2017, our team developed or participated in 86 programs that covered the following topic areas: forest management (e.g., timber resources, forest growth, economics and alternative income opportunities, and invasive plants), wildlife management and fish ponds, youth (non-4-H) and teacher workshops, chainsaw safety and urban forests, and women landowners (ForestHer and Annie’s Project).

Collaborators: County Forestry Planning Committees, Alabama Forestry Commission, Auburn University Museum of Natural History, NRCS, Regions Bank

Number of Participants: 7,530

Audience Diversity: 38% female. 77% white, 12% black, 11% other

Evaluation Techniques: Event surveys, follow-up discussions, six and twelve months post event, on-farm case studies

Impact Estimate for ForestHer Workshops: $9.5 million in forestland value

Return on Investment: 437:1

A group of foresters

Community Forestry

The focus of this project is to improve the health, safety, and resilience of Alabama’s community forests through increasing the professionalism and safety of commercial and municipal workers as well as increasing the knowledge of community forestry managers to implement and demand proper tree care. Toward this end, the Community Forestry project conducted 54 workshops with 2,031 people in attendance.

Number of Participants: 2,031

Audience Diversity: 78% male, 22% female, 72% white, 18% black, 6% Native American, 3% Hispanic, 1% other

Chainsaw Safety

Project Leaders: Beau Brodbeck, Jack RoweExtension Collaborators: Jack Rowe, Bence Carter, Jordan Graves, Eric Schavey

Background: The field of arboriculture is regarded as one of the most dangerous industries. Most injuries are related to chainsaws, which result in 36,000 injuries and more than $350 million in medical costs in the United States annually. This project completed 16 chainsaw safety workshops providing hands-on learning opportunities for 286 workers. Ten percent of these workshop attendees reported having previously suffered a chainsaw injury and more than 80 percent reported not using proper chainsaw personal protective equipment (PPE). It is largely understood that the combination of wearing PPE and training can result in more than a 60 percent decrease in chainsaw injuries. The goal of our program is to provide professional hands-on training to improve the safety of Alabama municipal and professional tree care workers.

Collaborators: RC&D, AFC, County EMAs, City Governments, AUFA

Number of Participants: 286

Evaluation Technique:
Event-survey, follow-up interview

Direct Impacts:

  • 83% of workshop attendees purchased PPE.
  • 95% of employers require use of PPE on work sites.
    • “We have now made PPE a part of our workplace policy”
  • 75% of attendees agreed that training contributed to a stronger workplace safety culture.
    • “Guys are constantly correcting each other when they see someone do something bad…”
    • “They seem to pay more attention to what they’re doing. They think before they start cutting.”
  • $632,000 in avoided medical costs and lost productivity.

Return on Investment: 38:1

Alabama Tombigbee Resource Conservation and Development Community Forestry

Project Leader: Jack Rowe

Extension Collaborator: Beau Brodbeck

Background: Rural towns and cities often face tree management problems they are not equipped to deal with. The cost of hiring consulting arborists or hiring qualified full-time personnel are prohibitive for most of these small rural communities. Instead, this program provides the resources of Extension and the Alabama Tombigbee RC&D in the person of a qualified arborist/ urban forester to consult on a part-time basis, spreading the benefits and costs as needed. Currently, there are 16 participating member towns and cities in the nine- county Alabama Tombigbee district. Participating towns and cities pay $30,915 per year for the services of Jack Rowe. Each town and city represents hundreds to tens of thousands of Alabamians affected by the program.

Collaborators: City, Town, and County Governments, Electrical Cooperatives

Number of Participants in Workshops: 242

Direct Impacts: $512,750 in avoided consultation fees for program services

Return on Investment: 17:1

Invasive plants in a forest.

Invasive Plant Identification and Control

Project Leader: Nancy Loewenstein

Extension Collaborators: Andy Baril, Beau Brodbeck, Bence Carter, Jordan Graves, Norm Haley, Chris Jaworowski, Jack Rowe, Chuck Simon, Josh Elmore, Dan Porch, Rhonda Britton, Jennifer Davidson, Matthew Hartzell

Background: Invasive plants reduce forest health and productivity across the state. This project provides in-service training, educational events, and publications for a wide range of stakeholders including forest landowners, foresters, and natural resource land managers, federal and state agency personnel, natural resource educators, Master Gardeners, and the general public. The team organized one statewide conference, fifteen workshops, field tours, in-service trainings, and four private pesticide applicator trainings. The team also participated in three regional workshops, one international conference, three natural resource educator workshops, two Master Gardener meetings, and eight other meetings. More than 1,240 attended these 37 events. Team members also participated in eight youth activities (1,237 participants) when native and/or invasive plants were featured.

Collaborators: Alabama Invasive Plant Council, Alabama Forestry Commission, Natural Resource Conservation Service, United States Forest Service, Southern Regional Extension Forestry

Number of Adult Participants: 1,242

Audience Diversity: 72% male, 28% female, 92% white, 6% black, 2% other (and very high diversity in range of stakeholders)

Evaluation Techniques: Real-time and post-event evaluations, e-survey

Adoption Rate Among Land Managers: 85%

Conservative Estimate of Acres Impacted: 4 million (approximately 20% of forestland in Alabama) owned or under management of program participants

Impact Estimate Land Managers: 180,000 acres of invasive plants controlled with more effective methods. Estimated returns = (savings on control costs: $2/acre = $360,000) + (increased forest productivity: $5/acre = $900,000) = $1,260,000. Estimated labor and travel costs: $16,000

Return on Investment: 79:1

Overall Impact Estimate: Overall impacts are difficult to quantify as they range from gardeners deciding not to use invasive species in their landscaping to improved invasive plant control through increased ability to identify invasive plants and other forest pests, using more effective methods of control, making more effective and safer use of herbicides, and being encouraged to take action. Ultimately, forest health and productivity are improved through enhanced control efforts, more acres treated, and fewer plants escaping to start with. Impacts are amplified through training of federal and state agency personnel who share timely information with their clients. Natural resource professionals also value the affordable Continuing Education Credits provided through many of our programs.

Different people demonstrating proper pesticide use.

Worker Protection Standards, Commercial and Private Applicator Training

Project leader: Sonja Thomas

Extension Collaborators: Jack Rowe, Andy Baril, Norm Haley, Themika Sims, Thomas Agee

Background: Worker Protection Standard (WPS) reduces the effects of pesticides on farm workers by providing information, protection, and mitigation measures. The WPS was revised in 2015. The goal of WPS trainings is to train agricultural workers, pesticide handlers, and early entry workers employed on any farm, forestry operation, or nursery engaged in the outdoor or enclosed space production of agricultural plants. The Private Applicator Training Program is designed to administer training and an exam for individuals who use or supervise the use of any restricted use pesticide for producing any agricultural commodity on property owned or rented or on the property of another person, without compensation.

Collaborators: Environmental Protection Agency; Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Pesticide Division and Plant Health Division; Forestry, Wildlife, and Natural Resources Regional Extension Agents

Number of Events: Four Private Applicator Trainings and six Worker Protection Standard Train-the-Trainer events

Number of Participants: 174 (Train-the-trainer events also extend to employees of the trainees.)

Audience Diversity: 89% white, 7% black, 4% Hispanic

Conservative Direct Impact Estimate: $19,530 (Based on average hourly wages of private applicators and trainers.)

Watershed Management

Project Leaders: Eve Brantley, Eric Reutebuch, Mona Dominguez

Extension Collaborators: Sergio Ruiz-Córdova, Alex James, Sydney Smith

Watershed management

The Watershed Management Project aims to develop and demonstrate management practices to enhance the development and implementation of effective watershed education, monitoring, planning, and improvement. Project efforts include training in water and watershed management using demonstrations and stakeholder meetings at the watershed level, incorporation of management practices into landowner education programs, and facilitation of volunteer water monitoring workshops. Project outcomes include improved knowledge of watershed best management practices, increased adoption of watershed best management practices, and improved conditions of water resources as documented by Alabama Water Watch volunteer water monitors.

Collaborators: Alabama Department of Environmental Management US EPA Region 4 Water Resources Program

Background: The Alabama Extension Water Program focuses on improving water resources
through enhancement or restoration of streams. Through a systems approach, the program increases understanding of the causes of instability or degradation; recommends methods to address the cause of the problem while incorporating other goals such as improved ecology, infrastructure protection, decreasing loss of land to erosion, and aesthetics; shares lessons learned through demonstration projects; and promotes wise stewardship of water resources.

Number of Participants: 771

Audience Diversity: 63% male, 37% female, 57% white, 43% black

Direct Impact Estimate: The Moores Creek Watershed Project generated $1.1 million in aesthetic and recreational benefits (valued using a moderate estimate based on a contingent valuation survey of $1,000 per foot) through the restoration of approximately 1,100 linear feet of Moores Creek. In addition, more than 30 Lanett High School student volunteers participated in the Moores Creek Stream Cleanup at a value of more than $2,000.

Alabama Water WatchAlabama Water Watch

Background: The focus of Alabama Water Watch (AWW) is promoting community-based, science- based watershed stewardship in the state through water monitor training and promotion of data-to-action strategies in local water resources management. In 2017, AWW conducted 93 training sessions that resulted in 632 volunteer monitor certifications. In addition, AWW displayed approximately 100 copies of the America’s Amazon infographic poster in public offices and education centers for the following organizations: Alabama Welcome Centers (Alabama Department of Conservation and Alabama Tourism Department), Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, DeSoto State Park Nature Center, Alabama Museum of Natural History, and Dauphin Island Sea Lab. The poster highlights water- and biodiversity-related facts about Alabama and encourages involvement with AWW.

Number of Participants: 1,762

Audience Diversity: 48% male, 52% female, 83% white, 11% black, 4% Hispanic, 3% Asian

Evaluation Technique: Analysis of volunteer monitor data submitted to AWW database

Impact Estimates: 4,890 hours of volunteer citizen time (from 632 trainees and 58 AWW-certified volunteer trainers who conducted 44% of trainings) at a value of $108,949. A total of 2,883 data records from 462 water bodies were submitted by volunteers, providing the state more than $534,631 in savings for collection of water data.

Return on Investment: 9:1

More Information

For more information visit Alabama Forestry, Wildlife & Natural Resources Extension online or contact your county Extension office.


Download a PDF of  Forestry, Wildlife & Natural Resources Team Impacts 2017, FOR-2052

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