About 100 current and potential Alabama TREASURE Forest Association (ATFA) members kicked of their annual meeting at the Central Alabama Community College (CACC) campus in Alexander City Oct. 16.
At the meeting, which included two days of seminars, discussions and forestry tours, forest owners shared ideas and accomplishments, ATFA President-elect Billy Joe “B.J.” Johnson said.
“The great thing about this organization is whether you have 2,000 acres or 20 acres, we’re all proud of every single inch of it,” said Johnson, a Cherokee County native. “Through ATFA, we see land ownership as much larger than ourselves; we want to preserve this land for our children and our children’s children.”
At the opening lunch meeting, the Gary Fortenberry Partnership Award was presented to the North Region winner Eddie May and the Southwest Region winner Jack Warbington. The awards recognize representatives of government agencies, academia, landowners, industry and other forest resource organizations for their partnership with and support of the ATFA. Gary Fortenberry and his wife, Shirley, worked to share their land with others and helped to ensure proper management of land for future generations, and the award was named in their honor.
Joel Glover of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, along with his wife, Melanie, received the Bill Moody Award at the conference luncheon.
The award recognizes the TREASURE Forest landowner who exemplifies retired state forester Bill Moody’s belief and commitment to the multiple-use philosophy found in the TREASURE Forest program.
Attendees also enjoyed informational sessions on forestry contracts, endangered species, ATFA certification, use of drones in forestry and more.
ATFA Director Rick Oates said each TREASURE Forest annual meeting is a little different, but the goal remains the same: to help landowners fulfill the TREASURE Forest mission.
“Being a TREASURE Forest member means you fulfill the tenets of stewardship, sustainability, education and partnership,” Oates said. “Whether it’s through hunting, fishing, Classroom in the Forest or wildlife preserves, we want to give ATFA members the most up to date information to help them be the best stewards of the land they can be.”
A tour of Bobby Jennings’ 1,000-acre Tallapoosa County TREASURE Forest was held on the final day of the conference. Jennings, who started with 82 acres in the 1960s, was named Alabama’s 2008 Tree Farmer of the Year and in 2009 was a finalist in the Southeast Region for the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year.
After the tour, the annual meeting concluded with seminars and discussions at the CACC campus.
For photos of the ATFA conference, visit Flickr.com/AlabamaFarmers.