In partnership with the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF), Ben will work with private landowners and hunting clubs to establish and support QDM Cooperatives in Southwest Alabama. He will also work closely with the AWF’s Land Stewardship Assistance biologists to encourage and facilitate management practices that enhance wildlife habitat and meet landowner objectives.
Fire managers across the United States are grappling with more frequent, extreme wildfires caused in part by a changing climate and nearly a century of ardent fire suppression. In the Pacific Northwest, for example, increasing temperatures along with the knee-jerk tendency to extinguish fire has created an environment ripe for higher-intensity, larger flames, according to a study published last month in Ecosphere.
But the Southeast takes a different approach to fire.
In 2018, Georgia, Florida and Alabama prescribed burns to more than 4 million acres of land, while the remaining 47 states and territories burned about 2 million acres combined, according to data collected by the National Interagency Fire Center and analyzed by Climate Central. Experts warn this data may undercount prescribed burning, but a country-wide survey by the National Association of State Foresters and the Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils similarly found that, in 2017, the Southeast was responsible for two-thirds of the nation’s prescribed burns.
Although each state requires a different amount of prescribed burning to sustain a healthy ecosystem, many states with sizable amounts of federal and state lands aren’t meeting their goals. Staff at the U.S. Forest Service, which treated only about 1% of the nearly 200 million acres of land it manages with prescribed burns in 2018, are alarmed by their own agency’s lack of burning. For the first time in history, they’re considering restructuring the agency to facilitate more prescribed fires.
A bill to allow hunters to buy licenses to hunt deer and feral hogs over bait has passed the Alabama Legislature after several years of falling short.
Drought conditions in Alabama left many hunters unable to plant fall food plots. Those that did plant likely have very poor food plots due to the lack of rain. While food plots provide great hunting areas, and food in times of nutritional stress, they are only one very small piece of the puzzle when it comes managing for white-tailed deer and other wildlife. Those that have been managing for natural food sources likely have healthier deer herds and increased deer sightings.
Help may be on the way for a hog problem in north Jefferson County. Community leaders in Gardendale are planning their next step in dealing with the issue and they’re asking for input from people like John Epps.
Just about everything green you see on the Castle Pines Golf Course is under the care of Epps. He cuts the grass, prunes the trees, and hunts wild hogs.