By Marlee Moore
Over 150 landowners and natural resources professionals converged in Columbiana Oct. 21-22 for educational seminars, a longleaf plantation tour and awards presentations.
Held at the Alabama 4-H Center on Lay Lake, the Alabama Landowners Conference is 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.
Attendees were engaged during the conference, consistently asking questions to improve their properties. It was an impressive showing after a tough year, said ATFA President Mark Finley.
“We were so thankful to meet face-to-face and learn together,” said Finley, a Winston County landowner. “It’s important to continually improve our properties, and educational opportunities like the Landowners Conference allow us to learn from professionals and each other.”
Seminars focused on carbon credits, longleaf pine management, turkey management, forest health and pesticide permits. A listening session allowed landowners to suggest future education and research topics – including invasive species, engaging younger generations, natural resources enterprises, drone use and cost-share programs. Attendees also toured a Shelby County longleaf pine plantation owned by The Westervelt Co.
Exemplary leaders were celebrated during the meeting. The ATFA’s highest honor, the Bill Moody Award, was presented posthumously to Richard Hill of Elmore and Butler counties. His widow, Pam, accepted the award.
W. Kelly Mosley Environmental Awards were presented to Gene Renfroe of Pike County, Roy Jordan of Marengo County, and Dr. Salem and Dianne Saloom of Conecuh County. The awards recognize outstanding voluntary efforts toward wise stewardship of Alabama’s natural resources.
The ANRC and W. Kelly Mosley Environmental Awards Program jointly presented two sets of awards — the Helene Mosley Memorial TREASURE Forest Awards and Outstanding County Awards.
Helene Mosley Awards recognize landowners for outstanding achievement in multiple-use forest management. This year’s winners were Neil and Ellen Armentrout of Baldwin County and mother-daughter duo Kathy McCrimmon and Kelly Cosby of Calhoun County.
Forestry Planning Committees in Butler, Clay and Walker counties were recognized for improving forest resources management through cooperative programs.
The Alabama Tree Farm Committee also presented awards. Jordan Heath was named Alabama’s Tree Farm Inspector of the Year, while Felicia Dewberry of Clay County received the Doug Link Leadership Award. Trice and Johnnie Nichols of Autauga County were named Alabama’s Tree Farmer of the Year and will represent Alabama in the regional competition.
A tree identification contest tested attendees’ dendrology knowledge. Paul Williams of the Alabama Forestry Commission won the professional category, while Dewberry claimed top prize in the landowner division.
Additionally, a silent auction raised over $1,300 for ATFA’s scholarship fund.