As part of a $1 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Southern Company, the National Wild Turkey Foundation (NWTF) will help restore native longleaf pine to 160 acres in Wind Creek State Park.
In a collaborative effort, the Covey Rise Chapter of Quail Forever also will conduct a longleaf habitat improvement project on an adjacent 40 acres in the park. The chapter will focus on thinning and enhancing existing longleaf pine in this area.
The initial timber thinning will be implemented and administered by the Alabama State Parks Division in accordance with the open and competitive timber sale procedure as specified by state law. The initial thinning is scheduled to begin late winter.
Longleaf pine forests are some of the South’s most unique ecosystems. Both project areas will be managed with prescribed fire to promote a host of native warm season grasses, legumes, and forbs that provide ideal habitat for wild turkey, bobwhite quail, white-tailed deer, the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and several neotropical migratory birds.
“This collaboration is an excellent example of cooperative conservation,” said Gary Burger, NWTF Forester. “No single group can perform the enormous task of restoring longleaf pine.”
Steve Forehand of Quail Forever, who has been instrumental in promoting the project, agrees. “We can make positive changes to our state’s resources by working together.”
“State Parks is looking forward to this project and working with these two outstanding organizations that have shown great stewardship principles in management projects around the country,” said Tim Wishum, acting Alabama State Parks Director.
One of the focuses of the longleaf pine restoration is to create sustainable bobwhite quail and wild turkey habitat in accordance with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries best management practices for each species.
During the project, Quail Forever will provide in-kind service in the form of labor and budget to facilitate the creation and maintenance of early successional open areas, control hardwood brush and invasive species with herbicides, construct roads and fire breaks to facilitate both public access and prescribe burning, stimulation of local and regional public interest for the project, and the construction of educational kiosks for public viewing and interpretation.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will coordinate both projects with the recreational use of the park. These projects provide excellent opportunities for partners and other natural resource agencies and groups to demonstrate the importance of wildlife habitat management to the public. Park users also will learn that these well-managed longleaf ecosystems are aesthetically pleasing with open vistas and numerous species of native, flowering plants.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com  .