Over 200 landowners and natural resources professionals focused on the value of forestry during the second Alabama Landowners Conference in Prattville Oct. 22-24.
The event was a joint effort of the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association (ATFA), Alabama Natural Resources Council (ANRC) and Alabama Tree Farm Committee.
“Alabama is blessed with 23 million acres of forestland, 94% of which is privately owned,” said ATFA Executive Director William Green. “It was a pleasure to welcome landowners from across the state to one combined meeting, where they learned key skills to improve their management techniques.”
Educational sessions concentrated on forest markets, landscape management, chronic wasting disease, the White Oak Initiative, feral swine removal and more.
A panel of experts including landowner Salem Saloom discussed innovative, alternative revenue sources from forestland.
The theme was echoed during landowner tours at Sherer Longleaf Farm and the Central Alabama Fowl Preserve in Chilton County.
“Doing some type of forest management will pay dividends,” said Saloom of Conecuh County, citing hunting, beekeeping and pine straw harvest enterprises. “That gives economic value to you and your land.”
During the conference, stewardship-minded individuals were recognized. The Bill Moody Award was given to State Rep. Danny Crawford, R-Athens, accompanied by his wife, Mary Kay. The Limestone County landowner received the ATFA’s highest honor for his commitment to multiple-use forest management and helping others understand the benefits forests provide. The award is named after former State Forester Bill Moody, who founded the TREASURE Forest certification in 1974 and died this year.
Joy Herring of Mobile County received the Gary Fortenberry Partnership Award for youth outreach efforts. Herring is the science lab coordinator at McDavid-Jones Elementary School in Citronelle.
The ANRC honored Stan and Suzanne Wood of Cullman County with the W. Kelly Mosley Environmental Award for significant natural resource management. Outstanding Forestry Planning Committee Awards were presented to leaders in Autauga, Bullock and Fayette counties.
The Alabama Tree Farm Committee named Allene and Foots Parnell of Chilton County the Alabama Tree Farmers of the Year.
Chris Wright of Walker County was recognized as Tree Inspector of the Year, while Nick Granger of Coffee County received the Doug Link Leadership Award.
The ATFA welcomed five new board members during the conference — Gean Harris, Cleburne County; Don Mann, Madison County; Dan Nelson, Marion County; Ron Hilyer, Elmore County; and Elliott Poole, Sumter County. John Dorrill of Pike County and Jimmy Jimmerson of Cleburne County were named honorary board members.
An ATFA silent auction raised $1,800 for scholarships. Sean Dietrich, known as Sean of the South, entertained attendees during the welcome banquet. His columns are featured in Neighbors magazine, a publication of the Alabama Farmers Federation, of which ATFA is affiliated.