SFWS Professor Receives Governor’s Conservation Award

GCAA Banquet

Shown from left to right with Dr. Jim Armstrong (second from left), are award presenters, Horace Horn, AWF President and also with PowerSouth Energy, Commissioner Gunter Guy, and Matt Bowden with Alabama Power Company. Photo courtesy of AWF.


School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Dr. Jim Armstrong, recently received the prestigious Conservation Communicator of the Year award at the 2015 Alabama Wildlife Federation Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards banquet held on Friday, August 7, in Prattville, Alabama.

The Alabama Wildlife Federation, established by sportsmen in 1935, is the state’s oldest and largest citizens’ conservation organization. Awarded for over 40 years, the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards are one of the most respected conservation honors granted in the state which recognizes individuals and organizations who promote and exemplify leadership of wildlife and natural resources conservation.

According to the federation, the program is designed to bring about a greater knowledge and awareness of conservation practices and projects, and to give proper recognition to those persons and organizations that make outstanding contributions to the natural resource welfare of the community and the state. Of this award, Armstrong stated, “It was nice to receive the award and be recognized by others who are involved in managing our natural resources.”

Dr. Armstrong was chosen as Conservation Communicator of the Year for his career-long contributions toward wildlife management. As chairman of the Wildlife Society’s Wildlife Damage Management Working Group, Armstrong’s efforts contributed to the pioneer of the emerging discipline of wildlife damage management associated with urban spillover into wildlife habitats.

He is also recognized for his contributions towards the Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program (WHEP), a state and nationally implemented training program designed to help youth to develop decision-making skills through the practice of wildlife management.

Armstrong’s service with the Planning Committee for the Berryman Wildlife Institute, whose mission is to “promote and fund research and education activities associated with wildlife damage management” was also noted by the AWF. As a professor, Dr. Armstrong’s leadership of graduate level research has focused on the development of wildlife management strategies to address the detrimental effects of coyote population expansion.

In addition to Armstrong’s service and research interests, his role within the Alabama Cooperative Extension System has enabled him to extend immeasurable benefits to Alabamians and effectively communicate the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s conservation message to the general public. [Read more…]

Sustainability Picnic 2015 – August 19th at 4:00pm at the Arboretum #AUthrives

Auburn’s Dr. Gary Hepp honored at 2015 Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards Ceremony

Forestry and Wildlife professors awarded grant to study wild pigs


Faculty members Stephen Ditchkoff, Mark Smith, Todd Steury, Robert Gitzen, Graeme Lockaby, and Edward Loewenstein in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences received a $861,833 grant from the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR-WFF) to study to the impacts and control of wild pigs in Alabama.


Wild pig population have spread dramatically across the state in the past 20 years and now cause well over $50 million per year in damage to Alabama agriculture as well as untold millions in damage to natural ecosystems and native wildlife.  This 5-year study will occur at the ADCNR’s Lowndes County Wildlife Management Area just west of Montgomery where researcher will use GPS transmitter collars to monitor the movements, habitat use, and survival of wild pigs on the area.


In conjunction with data on wild pigs, researchers will also examine their impacts on water quality, regeneration of hardwood trees, and other wildlife such as squirrels before and after wild pigs are systematically removed from an 8,000 acre portion of the management area.   The project builds upon previous research to further develop and refine best management practices (BMPs) for controlling wild pig populations.

Forestry Field Days Improve Land Management



AUBURN, Ala, September 26, 2014 – The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Alabama Natural Resources Council (ANRC), Alabama State Tree Farm Committee, and other conservation partners are sponsoring three regional field days to promote forest stewardship.


“This is an excellent opportunity for landowners to learn how to manage their land resources in a sustainable way,” said NRCS Acting State Conservationist Ben Malone. “Landowners will have the opportunity to visit one-on-one with local staff and network with other landowners.”


Forest lands cover more than 210 million acres in the southeastern United States, and there are 21 million acres of forest in Alabama alone. Over 95 percent of Alabama’s forest lands are privately owned.


Landowners need quality land and wildlife resource training opportunities so they can manage their properties effectively. Dr. Gary Lemme, Alabama Extension Director and Chair of the ANRC, says Alabama landowners can learn about a variety of management techniques by attending a Regional Forestry Field Day.


“Participants will learn how to manage Alabama’s forests for a variety of uses,” said Lemme. “These events will feature experts in forest and wildlife management resources as well as a tour of a certified TREASURE Forest or Tree Farm.”


The three regional Forestry Field Days will be held in October. Registration for these free events begins at

8 a.m. and lunch will be served. Call the appropriate regional field day contact to confirm your spot and to obtain directions.


North Alabama – Oct. 2 – Burgess Farm in Colbert County



  • Predator Solutions; Trapping
  • Mulching Timber & Creating Wildlife Openings
  • Thinning, Prescribed Burning & Timber Markets
  • Pine Plantation Establishment & Invasive Species Control

Contact: Johnnie Everitt – (256) 383-4376


Central Alabama – Oct. 9 – Charles Holmes Property in Perry County



  • Agri-Tourism
  • Wild Pig Management
  • Longleaf vs Loblolly Pine Management
  • Stream Crossing

Contact: John Ollison – (334) 683-6888


South Alabama – Oct. 16 – Newman Property in Coffee County



  • Dove Field Management
  • Hardwood Management
  • Mid Rotation Release
  • Wetland Management

Contact: Mary McLean – (334) 894-5596


The Alabama Natural Resources Council’s primary mission is to promote the stewardship of Alabama\’s forest resources. These regional forestry field days are just one of the Council’s outreach efforts. For more information, visit the ANRC’s website at: http://www.aces.edu/forestry/anrc.



­Contact: Julie Yates, 334-887-4581 julie.yates@al.usda.gov

SFWS Annual Photo Contest Now Open

The 4th annual School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Photo/Video Contest is officially open for submissions. The goal of the contest is three-fold: 1. to communicate in images the kinds of things that we do here in the School, including research, teaching, and extension/outreach; 2. to recognize the artistic prowess of our faculty, staff, and students, and 3. to showcase numbers 1 and 2 on walls throughout our building.


Here are the rules:

  • Anyone affiliated with the School can participate, including students, staff, faculty, and alumni
  • Photos (and videos) must have been taken after the deadline for last year’s contest (November 1st, 2013).
  • Photos will be evaluated in one of 9 categories relevant to the School’s goals:
  • Alabama Plants
  • Alabama Wildlife
  • Alabama Landscapes
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Extension / Outreach
  • Game Camera Photos
  • Travel
  • Alumni – all alumni photos should be submitted in this category, regardless of which of the above categories they might fall in.
  • Note that any wildlife, plants, or landscape photos taken outside Alabama (unless research related) should be submitted under the category of ‘travel’
  • Each individual may only submit one photo per category
  • Note that we also have a category exclusively for photos taken BY (not of) alumni. The topic of such photos may fall in any of the other 8 photo categories.
  • In entering your photo (or video) into the contest, you release the right to use in promotional and marketing materials created by the university.

All photos will be uploaded to the SFWS Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/ausfws). Followers of the page can ‘like’ their favorites photos, and the number of ‘likes’ a photo gets will be considered by the committee in deciding the photo winners.


This year, we are once again accepting videos as part of the contest. Videos should be no more than 2 minutes in length, and should fit one or more of the photo categories. We are looking for web-suitable videos that represent or showcase some aspect of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences (student life, research, outreach, teaching, etc) . Creativity and humor are encouraged. You can view some longer videos for inspiration at our YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/AUworkingwithnature.


The deadline for photo and video submission is November 1st, 2014

Winners will be recognized and their photos will be framed and displayed in a prominent location in the School. The winning video will have the opportunity for prominent display on the SFWS website and social media.


To submit an entry to the contest, click on this link:




If you have any questions, contact Todd Steury (steury@auburn.edu)


Lyme Disease Awareness Event Sept 11

“Get Ticked Off About Lyme Disease” and join us on September 11th from 10-2pm on the Ginn Concourse (rain location: Haley Center Lobby). Learn about ticks, the illnesses they carry, why you should care, and what you can do to prevent getting Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Enjoy FREE refreshments, giveaways, and fun! Anyone who spends time outdoors or has pets and children that do should attend.


Also join us for a lecture by the “tick doctor”, Dr. Kerry Clark, from the University of North Florida at 3:30 pm in room 1101 of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Building. He will be talking about tick and Lyme disease myths and truths and his past and present research. He will also answer questions after the lecture and take part in a discussion over dinner at 5:00 pm in room 1101 of the SFWS. Contact SFWS graduate student Emily Merritt (ezm0017@auburn.edu) or Michelle Cole (coleden@auburn.edu) for RSVP and event information


Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the US and it is found worldwide. People and pets have been infected with it in all US states, and every year hundreds of thousands of new cases emerge. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that is carried and transmitted by black-legged ticks in the Eastern part of the US. It is transmitted when an infected tick bites a human or pet and remains attached for around 36 hours. Ticks are picked up by humans and pets who spend time in outdoor, tick-infested areas. Ticks’ small size makes them difficult to detect, and their ability to hold on tight makes them very effective at transmitting the disease. Lyme disease symptoms vary from person to person and often imitate the symptoms of other illnesses, causing it to be misdiagnosed or left unrecognized. Untreated, this disease can cause neurologic, cardiac, arthritic, and psychiatric problems in infected individuals. Ticks are very common in the south, and Lyme disease is a threat to all who spend time outdoors. We hope this event will help spread the word about ticks and Lyme disease and educate people on how to recognize the signs of infection and ways to prevent acquiring the debilitating disease.

Doctoral student receives Alabama Forests Forever Foundation Grant


Emily Stutzman Jones, a doctoral student working with Dr. Becky Barlow, received a grant for $8,043 to help fund her research project on Agroforestry in Alabama. The project aims to promote silvopasture – integrating the production of timber, forage, and livestock on a single site – as a way to improve profit potential for landowners and while providing several environmental benefits.


The project has both information gathering and educational components and is designed to work with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System to benefit Alabama landowners. The first phase of the project involves surveying landowners as well as professionals who advise them – extension agents and consultants, for example.  The surveys will aim to gain insight about what works for successful silvopasture sites and what barriers to implementation exist among landowners and natural resource professionals.  


The results from these surveys will be used to develop outreach information and publications that will be disseminated to help landowners make informed decisions about silvopasture. In addition, Jones will hold a workshop for natural resource professionals to enhance their capacity to advise landowners about agroforestry and its benefits to landowners and the environment.

Forest Health Dynamics Laboratory Designated NSF Center


The Forest Health Dynamics Laboratory at Auburn’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences has been designated an official research center of the National Science Foundation, as part of the Center for Advanced Forestry Systems (CAFS). This designation, the result of a rigorous two and a half year selection process, comes with a $300,000 grant and five year membership, which can be extended twice in additional five-year increments.


The Forest Health Dynamics Laboratory, led by faculty members Scott Enebak and Lori Eckhardt, joins existing centers to become the tenth site for the Center for Advanced Forestry Studies. According to Enebak, the Auburn site is the only site that addresses forest health in the region. The designation brings other advantages, such as increased opportunities for collaboration across research sites, and the chance to propose projects to industry leaders for additional funding.


The nature of CAFS, with its close ties to industry leaders to help drive applied research to solve pressing problems, is a natural fit for the Auburn site, which already works closely with industry through the Southern Forest Nursery Management Cooperative and the Forest Health Cooperative.

Forestry Cooperatives Receive $218,000 Grant


The Southern Forest Nursery Management Cooperative and Forest Health Cooperative, research cooperatives in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, have received a $218,000 grant from the US Forest Service to improve screening for Fusarium circinatum, a fungus that is threatening conifer forest ecosystems globally. The grant will fund development of a new testing protocol with PCR (polymerase chain reaction), using species-specific genetic markers for the fungus that causes Pitch Canker. The current screening method takes weeks and is unreliable, so the fungus is still being spread globally in infected seed and seedlings. Once in place and approved by the International Seed Testing Association, the new method could make Auburn the central source for testing pine seedlings for pitch canker. The project is in cooperation with the University of Florida at Gainesville, where the genome of the pitch canker was initially sequenced.


The grant has funded a postdoctoral fellow, Ryan Nadel, who will be developing the new testing protocol, making it as accurate as possible, and perfecting a system that can be used commercially. One of the big questions he has to settle is the testing threshold, or exactly how much seed or plant material is needed for an accurate test. Scott Enebak, director of the Southern Forest Nursery Management Cooperative, says that they hope to have a testing system ready and changes in place to the International Seed Testing Association’s rules by the end of three years.


This project highlights the unique benefits of the two research cooperatives here at the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. Building on a collaborative relationship with the University of Florida, this grant will allow the cooperatives to extend the research and then apply it directly in a commercial setting to benefit their members in industry.

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