Forest landowners learn about plant and wildlife management


FAIRHOPE, Alabama — Wildlife biologist J.J. McCool touched on a wide variety of topics in front of about 30 forest landowners and property managers Friday, May 17 at the Weeks Bay Reserve in Fairhope.

His presentation, “How to manage property to increase wildlife habitat quality while increasing timber stand production,” focused primarily on exotic plant and animal control with a significant amount of the lecture focusing on controlling wild hogs.

“I hesitate to call any animal smart, but these animals are smart and highly adaptable to their environment,” he said. “They main way to control them is by not focusing on any one method and to use a variety of methods to achieve the best possible result.”

The presentation also focused on dealing with a variety of other invasive animals, such as beavers, coyotes, armadillo, racoons, foxes, snakes and alligators.

“An area of particular concern here has been a potential for the outbreak of rabid animals in the area,” he said. “We went from having none over a long period of time to three in less than two years in the Fairhope area, two gray foxes and one raccoon. It’s something we all need to keep an eye on.”

McCool also touched on dealing with invasive plant species, such as Cogongrass and Chinese Tallow Trees.

“The main thing we want to express is the need for using control burns to deal with invasive plants,” he said. “This is a method that was used for 150 years, but we have gotten away from it. The fact is, it works and it’s something that needs to be explored.”

McCool also touched on a variety of commercial herbicides used to control invasive plant species. He also discussed wetlands and wetland management during the presentation, which was followed by a trip to the Weeks Bay Wildflower Bog.

This forestry field visit was sponsored by the Bradley/Murphy Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Trust. The trust was established in 1992 by an initial gift from forestry consultant, Harry Murphy. Its mission is to encourage, promote, and develop through education and the free market system the stewardship of forest and related natural resources in the private sector.

The Alabama Forest Owners' Association is a non-profit, self-supporting association, dedicated to providing management and ownership assistance to current and future owners of forested land. Forests cover 71 percent of Alabama, producing clean water, clean air, diverse wildlife habitat, and raw materials for thousands of jobs. Most forestland in Alabama is privately owned by individuals and families.

Information for this report provided from an AFOA press release with additional reporting by Onlooker co-editor John Underwood.