Wednesday, December 23, 2009

5th Annual Alabama Clean Water Partnership Conference

The Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District was recognized by the Black Warrior Clean Water Partnership at the Alabama Clean Water Partnership 5th Annual Watershed Conference that was held in Clanton, AL, on December 2, 2009. Each agency that is represented in the photo was awarded a limited edition print for their efforts in assisting the Black Warrior Clean Water Partnership. The print is the 5th in a series of numbered nature prints by Keith Smith who is a local artist. Pictured from left to right is Danny Hensley (US Army Corp of Engineers), Patti Pennington (Black Warrior Clean Water Partnership), Johnnie Johnston (Southeast Sewer Systems), Abner Patton (Patton Geologics), Ann Wynn (Geological Survey of Alabama), Katherine Patton (Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District) and Barbara Newman (Jefferson Co. Health Dept).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cawaco RC&D Council water chemistry kit grant received

15 water chemistry kits were received and donated to Maddox Middle School and Walker High School. The kits were made available thanks to a grant that was received from the Cawaco RC&D Council. These kits will be used in science and chemistry classes to perform monthly monitoring tests on Town Creek and Doctors Branch. Each month the students will monitor temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, oxygen saturation, total alkalinity, total hardness and turbidity and will then enter the resulting data on the Alabama Water Watch website. Maddox Middle School will be monitoring Town Creek which has recently undergone a $500,000 Cawaco funded restoration project. The kits will allow the students to study how a revitalized stream maintains a healthier aquatic ecosystem as well as providing an outdoor hands on activity along with participating in a long term study that teaches the importance of how our every day life activities impact water quality and the environment.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

2009 Walker County annual land judging contest

The Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District along with the Natural Resource Conservation Service hosted the annual land judging contest for high school students on October 27th at the farm of Gene Berry located in Curry. Score cards are completed on four different land uses: cropland, pastureland, forestland and home sites. This event is designed to help the students learn more about land, soil types and capabilities, methods of soil conservation, treatments to obtain higher crop production and selection of suitable home sites. Curry High School finished 1st, Oakman High School finished 2nd and Parrish High School finished 3rd.

The Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District would like to give special thanks to Gene Berry for the use of his farm, equipment and time. We would also like to thank District One Commissioner, Dual Tubbs and his staff for digging the judging pits.

Pictured 1st place L-R: Gene Berry-landowner, Amber Johnson-NRCS District Conservationist, Cody King, Riley Goforth, Lane Keeton, Jamie Campbell, Chris McCullar-Curry High School Ag teacher.

Pictured is highest individual score L-R: Gene Berry-landowner, Amber Johnson-NRCS District Conservationist, Riley Goforth, Chris McCullar-Curry High School Ag teacher.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Governor Riley proclaims soil and water conservation week

On August 28, 2009, Governor Bob Riley signed a proclamation declaring the week of September 14, 2009 through September 19, 2009 as soil and water conservation week. Due to the signing of this proclamation I thought it would be a good time to provide a little background history as to how and why the soil and water conservation district's were formed. In 1933 the United States Department of the Interior created the Soil Erosion Services as a temporary division to deal with the widespread erosion and environmental problems such as the dust bowl. By 1935 there were 13 soil conservation camps in operation in Alabama and 3 conservation demonstration projects. Due to the increased demand for additional conservation services Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation creating the Soil Conservation Service which was the first soil conservation act in the history of the country. In 1937 President Roosevelt sent the Standard State Conservation Districts Law to the governor of each state, urging each state to pass enabling legislation that would allow the state to form local conservation districts. In 1939 Governor Frank Dixon signed the law creating the Alabama State Soil and Water Committee and authorized the formation of local soil and water conservation districts. There are currently more than 15,000 soil and water district supervisors directing the affairs of nearly 3,000 conservation districts across America with Alabama having 335 supervisors and 67 districts. The soil and water conservation districts are the only local unit of government charged with the responsibility of conserving Alabama's resources. The soil and water conservation district's mission is to put each acre of land in Alabama to use for which it is best suited, stop any form of soil deterioration, increase soil productivity, protect and conserve our precious water supply, and plan and implement the reforestation and replanting of the acres of countryside.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Free invasive species workshop coming in October

The Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District will be hosting an invasive species workshop titled "Weeds Gone Wild" on October 14th from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at the CHS Building in downtown Jasper. There is no registration fee for attending this workshop however, we are requesting for reservations to be made by calling Katherine at (205)387-1879. There will be 4.0 PLM credit hours for Professional Logging Managers, 4.0 CFE continuing education units for Registered Foresters and 10 commercial pesticide applicator recertification points for agriculture plant pest control, demonstration and research, forest pest control and right of way pest control for attending the workshop. Registration for CFE's, PLM's and recertification points will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Below is an overview of the workshop agenda.

8:30 - 9:00 Registration
9:00 - 9:10 Welcome by Bruce Hamrick, Chairman, Walker County Commission
9:10 - 10:10 Topic Introduction by Stephen Enloe, Ext. Weed Specialist, Auburn University
10:10 - 10:20 Break
10:20 - 10:50 Cogongrass presentation by Jim Jeter, BMP Coordinator, Alabama Forestry Commission
10:50 - 11:10 Landscape Escapees by Danny Cain, County Extension Coordinator, Alabama Cooperative Extension System
11:10 - 12:00 Lunch
12:00 - 1:00 Invasive controls with herbicide by Victor Nichols, Chemical Representative, BASF
1:00 - 1:10 Open discussion by Dorman Grace, Chairman, Walker County Soil & Water Conservation District
1:10 - 2:00 Privet eradication demonstration by Stephen Enloe and Danny Cain

The Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District would like to express a special thanks to the Alabama Invasive Plant Council for the grant that was received which helped to provide the funding for this workshop.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Free biodiesel workshop to be held in Jasper!

I am really excited to announce that the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition will be hosting an informational workshop on biodiesel at the Holiday Inn Express in Jasper on September 17th from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. There is no registration fee to attend the workshop however reservations are requested. For more information or to make a reservation for the workshop please click on the Alabama Clean Fuels link listed on the left side of this blog page then scroll down to the free biodiesel workshop and click on the prompt or call (205) 402-2755. Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Community garden

Thanks to the generosity of The Walker County Farmers Federation, Walker County Commission, City of Jasper, and the numerous volunteers that helped construct the beds the dream of Walker County having a community garden has now became a reality. We would not have completed the process of filling in the beds had it not been for Mr. Dover bringing his farm tractor with a much needed front end loader bucket. This is only the 1st phase of the garden and we are asking the public for suggestions on how to come up with a name for the gardens.

The August 8th work day was a huge success thanks to the many volunteers that showed up to clean out a portion of the hedge row and to line the aisle between the beds. The aisle was lined with geotextile fabric and covered by wood chips which will greatly reduce the maintenance and upkeep between the beds. The geotextile fabric was donated by the Pineview Landfill that is owned by Republic Services and the wood chips were donated by Jasper Lumber Company. Thanks also to Jeris Crump for hauling the wood chips, as well as Milton Otwell and Gene Berry for bringing their tractors. The Master Gardeners assistance was greatly appreciated as well.
Also, thanks to Andrew Posey and Sons for their seed donation. We now have turnip green, mustard green and collards seeds available at the office for fall planting in the raised beds!

Please contact Katherine with the Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District at 387-1879 with any contest suggestions or for further information regarding raised bed rentals.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Walker County Land Owner tour is featured in the 2009 summer edition of the Alabama Treasured Forest magazine

Thanks to Joel Glover, Certified Wildlife Biologist with the Alabama Wildlife Federation for the excellent article that he wrote regarding the Banks family property that is located in Walker County. I have a blog entry from May regarding the land owner tour, however, Joel goes into much greater detail of the love and good stewardship that the Banks Family has for their property. Please double click on this blog entry title to read the article.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Jasper Mall's 1st Annual Green Day

The Jasper Mall held their 1st Annual Green Day on Saturday, June 20th from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Residents were able to recycle electronic devices, batteries, printer cartridges, books, clothing and household items. Despite the heat there were vendors setup outside with solar power displays, a rainwater recycling information center and a smart car. The Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District was proud to be able to participate in this event and appreciates The Jasper Mall and The Country Legends 88.5 radio station for hosting this event.

Friday, May 15, 2009

2008/2009 educational activities

The Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District participated in the following educational activities for the 2008/2009 school year. If your school or group would like to schedule an educational activity please call Katherine Patton at (205) 387-1879.

Sponsored the County land judging contest at the property of Mr. Bobby Rea. Thanks to Mr. Rea for the use of his property for this contest as well as Walker County District 2 for digging the judging pits. Congratulations to Oakman High School for winning this event.

Hosted 30 ninth grade students from across the County for Groundhog Job Shadow Day.

Participated in the Curry Elementary Career Fair where each student received a longleaf pine seedling to plant. The 550 seedlings were donated by the Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Walker County Forestry Planning Committee.

Participated in the Arbor Day Celebration with Oakman High School FFA students. Partners for this event were Reed Mining, Alabama Surface Mining Commission, Alabama Chapter of the American Chestnut Tree Society and the Alabama Forestry Commission.

Assisted with the County FFA forestry, livestock judging and tractor driving competition along with the Alabama Forestry Commission and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Thanks to the Walker County Forestry Planning Committee for providing lunch. Congratulations to Curry High School for winning all 3 events!

Conducted outdoor classrooms with Curry Elementary and Valley School second grade classes at the Clear Creek Recreation Area. Approximately 165 students received water conservation kits. Additional partners for this event were the Alabama Forestry Commission, Walker County Forestry Planning Committee, Department of Conservation Wildlife and Fisheries, Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Alabama Power.

Alabama Conservation District Employees Association Scholarship Award Winner

The Alabama Conservation District Employees Association accepted applications for six $500 scholarships to be awarded to students who are residents of the State of Alabama and planning to enter college the summer or fall of the year 2009. One scholarship will be awarded in each of the Association’s six designated Areas. This scholarship can be used at the college of his/her choice.

The Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District received 22 applications for this scholarship award program. And we are pleased to announce that Miss Kendra Kimbell who is a 2009 graduate of Curry High School won the $500.00 award for Area III. Kendra competed against students from 10 other counties in Area III to win this award. Congratulations to Kendra for not only winning this award but also for the U.S. Army ROTC scholarship, Leadership scholarship to the University of North Alabama, Bevill State Jump Start scholarship, and for receiving the top Curry student award from Bevill.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Walker County Land Owner tour

The 2009 Walker County land owner tour was held at the Banks family property located in Pleasant Grove on May 2, 2009. Despite the rainy weather there were 62 attendees at the event. The event was hosted by the Walker County Forestry Planning Committee and lunch was provided by the Walker County Farmers Federation. The following partners helped with the tour as well as providing speakers: Jim Junkin, Staff Forester for the Alabama Forestry Commission covered prescribed burning, thinning and pruning, Danny Cain, County Extension Coordinator for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System covered pond management, Daniel Hogue, Consulting Forester for American Forest Management, Inc. covered BMP's for streamside management zones, Joel Glover, Wildlife Biologist for The Department of Conservation for Wildlife and Fisheries covered wildlife habitat improvement, and Jim Kitson, Field Supervisor for the Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District covered reclaiming mine land. We would like to once again thank the Banks family for allowing us to hold this event on their property that so greatly reflects the benefits of being dedicated stewards of their land.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Biomass Alabama's Renewable Energy Source

On Thursday, February 19, 2009, the Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District hosted an informational workshop on woody biomass. Partners for the workshop were the Alabama Forestry Commission, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Walker County Forestry Planning Committee. The goal of the workshop was to provide information to our landowners as well as the business opportunities that will arise from one of Alabama’s largest renewable energy sources. Due to the funding that was provided by a grant that was received from the Bradley Murphy Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Trust there was no charge to attend this workshop. There were 3.0 professional logging manager credit hours and 3.0 continuing education units for registered foresters available for attending the workshop. There were 100 hundred attendees at the workshop. Available to speak with the attendees were Berry Johnson, Product Support for John Deere and Greg Freeland, Forestry Products Consultant for John Deere. Berry and Greg brought caps for attendees as well as providing, DVD’s and brochures about the equipment they produce for biomass harvesting. Julius Nichols with Warrior Tractor was available to talk with attendees about the line of John Deere equipment as well. The following speakers and topics were discussed at the workshop: Welcome by Steve Cauthen, Executive Director of the Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Introduction of the topic by Charles Holmes, Chairman of the National Association of Conservation Districts-Forestry Committee, Wood Chips to Electricity by Mark Hall, Extension Renewable Energy Specialist, Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, Mega Trends in Forestry by Jim Jeter, BMP Coordinator/Hardwood Specialist, Alabama Forestry Commission, Logging Debris Utilization by Daniel Hogue, Forester, American Forest Management, Biomass Co-Firing Process by Gene Quick, Biomass Resource Associates, Wood By Products by Bryan Thompson B&T By Products, Pre-Commercial Thinning Cost Share Assistance by Tim Albritton, State Staff Forester, USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Bill Renewable Energy by Pat Butler, USDA Rural Development Area Specialist, Wood Pellets by Curt Lee, Vice President Business and Public Affairs, New Gas Concepts, and an Open Discussion by Dorman Grace, Chairman, Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District. After the workshop there was a Champion Elm Tree dedication located at Diane’s Formal affair in downtown Jasper.