By Maggie Edwards
Over 200 forest landowners and industry professionals met in Columbiana at the Alabama 4-H Center Oct. 27-28 for the Alabama Landowners Conference, a joint meeting of the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association (ATFA), Alabama Tree Farm Committee and Alabama Natural Resources Council (ANRC). ATFA is a partner organization of the Alabama Farmers Federation.
This conference piqued attendee Audrey Atkins’ interest earlier this year. The Birmingham resident wanted to develop a broad overview of the forestry industry to take back to her homeplace in Citronelle.
“I learned a lot more than I ever expected,” Atkins said. “This conference is so in depth, and I found it very valuable.”
Atkins said she enjoyed the conference, calling it Landownership 101.
“Whether you are a hunter, want recreational land, or buy and sell timber, this conference is for you,” Atkins said.
Throughout the two-day event, participants enjoyed seminars and tours that allowed them to deepen their understanding of pond construction and management; food plot design and management; forestry herbicide techniques; and ways to identify and manage invasive plant species. The conference coordination committee, led by ATFA Executive Director William Green, selected topics based off a Q-and-A pinpointing attendees’ interests during last year’s conference.
Long-time forest landowner John Farrow said the conference is a good networking opportunity for landowners and natural resource professionals.
“It is so important to have events like this to help educate us as landowners and the public on forestry and natural resources,” said Tallapoosa County’s Farrow, a Central Region representative on ATFA’s board of directors. “It is special to take this land that God has given us and make something out of it because we are the stewards of the land.”
Attendees also had the option of touring a local pine plantation, where they learned about management, ponds and road construction, or attending a ForestHER Workshop, which focused on forestry basics.
During the event, ATFA recognized its Gary Fortenberry Partnership Award winner, Bence Carter, a Regional Extension Agent in the Wiregrass, and raised $1,300 for scholarships through a silent auction.
ANRC’s awards banquet was also held in conjunction with the conference.