The Enterprise Lions Club held its first meeting of 2021 on Jan. 6 and welcomed Adam Bowers from the Alabama Forestry Commission as its guest speaker.
Bowers is a Forestry Management Specialist with a degree from Clemson University, although he noted that he is an Alabama native. He is responsible for managing forested land in Coffee and Covington counties and has worked for the Alabama Forestry Commission for 4 and a half years.
Alabama has 23 million acres in timber, and Bowers remarked that “trees are a commodity” in Alabama, just as are peanuts, soybeans and cotton. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the price of lumber has risen for a number of reasons, and as the industry continues to deal with the effects of the pandemic, that increase may continue.
Bowers also discussed the importance of properly managing timber land, from deciding how and what to plant, to maintaining the property to cutting and selling the timber. Part of Bowers' job is to work with landowners to determine how they want the land to be used while trees are growing to maturity; some want the land to be used for recreational purposes—hunting, fishing, camping, riding/biking/hiking trails, etc.—while others want to preserve the land for wildlife habitats.
Ideally, to ensure the health of the trees, landowners should plant about 720 trees per acre and plant different varieties of trees at different times. Bowers said that the trees will likely need to be thinned, and he recommended prescribed burning as a way to help manage the growth of the trees and to maintain a healthy environment for the wildlife.
There is a timeline, a cycle, to be followed for properly managing timberland. Once the trees are ready for cutting and the land is cleared, herbicides are applied to the land. The land is then burned before new trees are planted in January and February.
For the homeowner/property owner who wants to successfully grow trees to enhance the property, Bowers recommended planting “the right tree in the right place.” A variety of disease resistant trees are available, and white and red oaks are good choices, although they take 70 years to grow to their full height.
A number of forestry consultants are available to assist in managing timber land in Coffee County. The Forestry Commission has a list of those consultants for those interested at http://forestry.alabama.gov.