The mission of the Extension Forestry, Wildlife & Natural Resources Team is to provide Alabamians with the latest science-based information available to make decisions regarding the management of natural resources.
Our Forestry, Wildlife & Natural Resources Team members throughout the state provide timely information and technical assistance through printed materials, websites, social media, seminars, workshops, and site visits. We take the lead role in youth education and professional in-service training. 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 days and $913 million a year enjoying the state’s wildlife resources.
Wildlife Management: Enhancement and Damage
This project is designed to assist clients in managing Alabama’s natural resources. We provide information through programs and one-on-one contacts on ways to improve wildlife habitat and minimize damage caused by wildlife. Enhancement programs cover topics ranging from backyard birds to planting food plots for deer; damage management programs cover topics as diverse as bats in the attic to wild pigs.
- Conducted 82 programs focusing on aspects of wildlife management for about 5,250 attendees. More than 4,000 individual contacts were reported.
- Responded to a minimum of 1,000 calls about squirrels, armadillos, snakes, and moles. Using a conservative estimate of $200 saved per call, this translates to $200,000 of potential savings!
- Prevented more than $648,000 in wild pig damage on more than 75,000 acres of private land (six seminars, averaging 30 participants each, assuming each person removed 12 pigs, which cause $300 in damages each).
- Wrote six articles for Buckmasters Magazine, which reaches more than 200,000 print subscribers.
- Received more than 1.6 million views on wild pig management videos from 194 countries.
- Printed Landowner’s Guide to Wild Pig Management,which has reached 36,500 total print copies.
With its broad reach, this project encompasses forestry-themed workshops, short-courses, field days, professional conferences, and web-based events such as webinars and videos. Our team developed or presented 90 programs that covered the following topic areas: forest management for all landowners (timber resources, forest growth, economics, and alternative income opportunities), and invasive plants (43 programs), wildlife and fish ponds (9 programs), youth (not 4-H related) and teacher (24 programs), Master Naturalist and urban forests (6 programs), women landowners (3 programs), and timber tax (3 programs). Team members also participated in large events such as Buckmasters Expo and Ag Discovery, making extensive direct and indirect contacts. In addition, we piloted two new programs that were attractive to nontraditional audiences: ForestHer and BioBlitz.
- Family-forest-related Extension publications were viewed more than 3,600 times.
- Forestry, Wildlife, and Natural Resources Facebook page reached 630 likes with post reach of 7,240.
- The percentage of women who participate in project-related Forestry, Wildlife, and Natural Resource Extension workshops increased by 10 percent over 2015 numbers, in part because of the BioBlitz and ForestHer workshops.
- Participants in the ForestHer workshop came from all areas of Alabama, representing about 14,300 acres owned in Alabama. Participants also came from Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi. In a survey of 20 percent of ForestHer participants, 100 percent of those surveyed reported using techniques learned from the workshop to improve the management of their forests.
Worker Protection Standards, Pesticide Safety Education and Commercial
The Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) for commercial and private applicators aims to improve the health and safety of pesticide applicators, the community, and their families and to educate and encourage farmers, industry, government, natural resource managers, and the public to adopt economically and environmentally sound pest and pesticide management practices.
- Held more than 200 trainings in various Alabama counties, training more than 1,200 private applicators.
- Presented more than 1,000 pesticide safety presentations for commercial applicators in Forestry, Ornamental and Turf, Right of Way, Demonstration and Research, and Household Pest Control
- Offered continuing education credits to commercial
and private applicators in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Louisiana.
- Increased safety measures through reduction in farm-related poisonings and consumer complaints.
- Conducted restricted-use presentations for 150 Alabama dealers.
This initiative was part of the My Alabama Woods project focused on the Cumberland Plateau region of north Alabama (https://mylandplan.org/places/cumberland-plateau). Extension was a partner in this collaboration among the American Forest Foundation and other organizations including the Alabama Forestry Commission, Alabama Forestry Association, Alabama Forestry Foundation,
US Forest Service, NRCS, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Turkey Federation, Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, International Paper, Alabama Invasive Plant Council, Alabama Treasure Forest Association, and American Tree Farm. With an overall objective of improving sustainable forest management within the region, two specific goals were to restore or enhance shortleaf pine on appropriate sites and to improve invasive plant control. Targeted marketing tools were used to reach out to and provide technical assistance to landowners.
- 12,000 landowners were contacted through 3 targeted mail campaigns
- 351 landowners requested additional information, expressed interest in a field or workshop, or requested a visit from a natural resource professional.
- 85 landowners attended two workshops, learning about options for growing shortleaf, how and why to develop a forest management plan, ways to enhance wildlife habitat, and addressing invasive plant infestations. Each workshop was also attended by about 50 natural resource professionals.
- 175 landowners attended field days hosted by peers
- 183 landowners requested a site visit from a natural resource professional (site visits are still on-going, with 115 completed)
- Wrote a shortleaf pine fact sheet providing technical information for the project website.
- A walking trail through the 120-acre Harper Wigley Tract Demonstration Forest was developed, with interpretive signs highlighting the 39 acres regenerated to shortleaf pine and other aspects of the ecology and management of the mixed pine hardwood forest.
- Follow-up with respondents is ongoing:
- 18 landowners have planted more than 600 acres in shortleaf pine
- 22 have obtained or initiated a forest management plan
- 25 have initiated invasive plant control efforts
Water Resources Program
Improving water resources through enhancement or restoration of streams includes approaching stream degradation from a systems approach:
- Understand the causes of instability or degradation
- Recommend innovative 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.
- Use demonstration projects to share lessons learned and promote wise stewardship of water resourcesThe Alabama Extension Water Program assisted with the enhancement or restoration of approximately 3,700 linear feet of streams in Alabama in 2016.
- D’Olive Creek at I-10, Daphne (3,000 linear feet)
- Unnamed tributaries to Saughatchee Creek, Auburn(200 linear feet)
- Headwaters Town Creek, Auburn (200 linear feet)
- Mill Creek, Phenix City (300 linear feet)
Watershed Management, Alabama Water Watch
The focus of Alabama Water Watch (AWW) is promoting community-based watershed stewardship through water monitor training and promotion of volunteer monitored data- to-action strategies in local water resources management.
- Water chemistry monitoring, bacteriological monitoring, stream biomonitoring, and monitor recertification workshops and community presentations have been conducted statewide to enable watershed stakeholders to monitor water quality conditions and become active participants in watershed management.
- 870 certifications were awarded in water chemistry monitoring, bacteriological monitoring, Exploring Alabama’s Living Streams, recertifications, trainer- refresher, training-of-trainer, and new trainer intern, resulting in 472 new AWW volunteer water monitors
- 2,927 water quality data records were submitted by volunteer monitors to the AWW online water quality database, providing the state with more than $93,166 in savings for collection of water data.
- AWW-certified volunteer trainers conducted 51 percent of trainings at a value of $65,357.
- AWW created 10 instructional YouTube videos on water monitoring that are used regularly by citizen monitors throughout the state, with more than 700 views for a visual refresher on testing procedures.
- AWW bacteriological monitoring of public-use waters that has now surpassed the number of monitoring sites done by the state (based on postings at www.theswimguide. org: volunteer-monitored freshwater sites equals 57 while all state-monitored marine sites equals 24.
Growing evidence indicates that the community forest provides tremendous value. Research shows that community forests promote healthier lifestyles, improve the environment, boost the economy, and enrich the human experience. Alabama’s community forest is no exception. Local government, nonprofit organizations, and individual citizens all have a role in managing the community forest to help make Alabama a better place for people. The community forestry program works to educate, support, and train these civic and private caregivers to improve the health, safety, and resilience of Alabama urban forests.
- $32,765 were awarded in grants and sponsorships to support educational activities.
- 32 workshops educated 1,485 professional tree care workers, municipal maintenance crews, and private homeowners. Workshop topics ranged from tree selection, planting, and maintenance to tree risk assessment and preservation.
- 53 site visits directly addressed immediate tree care challenges experienced by municipalities and homeowners.
- 5 videos were developed to illustrate proper tree care and management.
- 11 publications were developed and distributed through Extension, local, and regional media to inform and educate citizens on timely tree care management.
- Extension personnel serve in leadership roles with other tree care organizations to attract, capture, and improve quality urban forest management in Alabama (AUFA, ISA, U&CF, ISASC, and Tree Fund).
- Surveys indicate that the 1,485 attendees experienced a 92 percent increase in knowledge during tree care, worker safety, and tree risk assessment workshops.
- 83 percent of attendees purchased personal protective equipment needed for safer chainsaw operation following chainsaw safety workshops.
- 8 new ISA Certified Arborists are in Alabama as a result of certification exam preparation workshops.
- 72.5 continued education credits were offered to allow 121 arborists in Alabama to maintain their professional license and improve their knowledge on the latest arboricultural science.
- ALA-TOM RC&D Community Forestry Project provided on-demand community forestry and arboricultural advice to participating municipalities and their public works staff, tree boards, beautification boards, and planning and development departments. Also provided professional arboricultural training for both public works and private professional staffers.
Invasive Plant Identification, Ecology, and Control
Forest health and productivity are under increasing threat from invasive plants. Chinese privet, cogongrass, kudzu, and numerous other species reduce tree growth, degrade wildlife habitat, and interfere with outdoor recreation. Costs for control can be substantial. Educational events, written materials, online resources, and social media provided landowners, natural resource professionals, K–12 educators, and the general public with information on species identification, options for successful control of invasive plants, proper use of herbicides, and making informed choices when selecting plants for wildlife plantings and landscaping. Continuing education credits offered at many events provided highly valued opportunities for professional development. Ultimately, reduced use of invasive plants in landscaping and improved invasive plant control leads to healthier and more productive forests.
- 1,380 Alabamians participated in 38 educational events, increasing their knowledge of invasive plant identification and control.
- More than 2.5 million acres of forestland was under management of 140 attendees at the statewide Alabama Invasive Plant Council Annual Conference where the latest information about invasive plant control was provided. A conservative estimate of the effect of this meeting is that invasive plant management will be initiated or conducted more effectively on at least 5,000 additional acres of Alabama forestland, pasture land, and right-of-ways.
- Tuscaloosa County road workers were provided with expertise needed to avoid spreading cogongrass along county roads and to report infestations for prompt eradication. Eradicating cogongrass from roadsides slows its spread into nearby forests, pastures, and beyond.
- A brochure, Invasive Plants–Exotic Beauties Can Have Devastating Results, was produced in collaboration with Master Gardeners and others to challenge consumers to make informed choices.
- A regional Extension publication, Chinese Tallowtree Biology and Management in Southeastern U.S. Forests,was produced in collaboration with Southern Regional Extension Forestry.
- The Alabama Extension Invasive Plant Facebook page reached 1,000 likes.
- The forestry and natural resource community and other stakeholders look to Extension for current information and assistance regarding invasive plant identification, ecology, and control.