Southern Perspective

The official blog of the Southern Group of State Foresters

James P. Jeter

Water Resources: It's all about partnerships in Alabama

January 19th, 2017
Registered Forester (retired)
Alabama Forestry Commission

It goes without saying that in order to fulfill our mission of conserving and sustaining Alabama's 23.1 million acres of working forestland, Alabama Forestry Commission must also be good stewards of our state's 132,419 miles of streams, rivers and reservoirs. We want to ensure our forests contribute to our state's economic and ecological health, and access to clean, abundant water plays a crucial role in that.

Lake at Geneva State Forest
Lake at Geneva State Forest
With so many miles of waterways to maintain, it takes many different partners working together in order to be successful, and as with many states, the Alabama Forestry Commission relies heavily on forming and building strong partnerships to maintain this commitment. These partners include other state agencies, federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, corporations, associations and especially individual landowners.

In Alabama, our agency's Best Management Practices (BMP) section must engage these partners. We need the support of the Alabama Forestry Association, which represents the second largest manufacturing group in the state — the forest industry. Since 95 percent of all forest land in Alabama is privately owned, we rely on landowner organizations such as the Alabama Forest Owners Association. We also need the support of the Alabama Farmers Federation, another group that not only represents farmers but also 'TREASURE Forest' landowners.

We also engage our regulatory partners as technical advisors. This includes the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service advises us on issues dealing with the aquatic-dwelling threatened and endangered species that also call Alabama home.

Our agency works closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency, as well as Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Districts, when dealing with cost-share practices that benefit water quality.

As the need arises, we also work with Auburn University and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the 'go-to' folks for offering educational courses such as BMPs for landowners/stakeholders or training for professional logging managers. For research and information, we rely on groups such as the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, as well as the Water Resources Committee of the Southern Group of State Foresters.

It's easy to see this task is a huge undertaking, and we appreciate everyone who helps ensure healthy, sustainable forestry in our state through effective management of our water resources. The Alabama Forestry Commission is not a stand-alone island, but an active member in a network of different partners that have the same mission — protecting and sustaining the waters of the state.

 
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