WINSTON COUNTY - The May meeting of the Bankhead Liaison Panel - the first held in person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic - addressed a wide array of topics, including personnel changes, new Forest Service projects and contracts, Wild Alabama programs and upcoming events.
Departing District Ranger Andy Scott opened the May 3, meeting. Monday, May 9, was to be his first day as deputy forest supervisor for the national forests in Mississippi. A cake decorated to represent the Bankhead bearing farewell and good-luck wishes for Scott was served before the meeting.
Cherie Hamilton, forest supervisor for the national forests in Alabama, addressed the panel and the public by phone to inform them to expect there to be at least two acting district rangers, each serving 120-day tenures, before a new permanent ranger arrives. Hamilton said she would bring in the new permanent ranger as soon as possible and asked for the public’s patience. She added, “In the meantime, know that I’ll work with the very capable staff there on the Bankhead National Forest ranger district to ensure that all of (their) important work continues.”
Scott announced that Jean Allan, district archeologist, will be retiring July 2, after almost 30 years of work on the Bankhead. Though she was not in attendance, her Forest Service colleagues honored her by including her photo on the personnel updates slide of their presentation. Scott told those in attendance that Allan is, “one of the absolute most knowledgable people about the forest that you will ever meet and just an absolute joy to work with.”
In other personnel news, Shane Hoskins, natural resources specialist, is leaving for a new position in May or June, and the district will be hiring nine new employees, including a new ranger and natural resources specialist. Other positions that need to be filled are that of firefighter apprentice, assistant fire engine captain, silviculture forester, one forestry tech opening in silviculture, one in sale prep and two in recreation.
Scott reported that the district had largely finished its prescribed burns for the year, burning 16,744 of the 18,904 acres it had originally planned to burn. Additional site prep burns on 350 acres, including at Corinth, the Houston Jail, Balls Mountain and Oak Grove, are planned for this year. Prescribed burns on about 18,000 acres are planned for next year.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.