AFA On the Road to Notasulga

DSC_0033The Alabama Forestry Association will host a Capital District Meeting and Auburn Area Regional Reception on Thursday, February 11th at Coach Pat Dye’s Crooked Oak Lodge in Notasulga.  The District Meeting will begin at 5:00 pm CST and the Reception will last from 6:00 pm CST until 8:00 pm CST.  If you have not already registered, you can do so by going to our website by clicking here.

This is one of our most highly anticipated events and we are very grateful for the generous support provided by our sponsors; First South Farm Credit, Auburn Bank, Southern Loggers Cooperative, King Auto, Daniel & Son, Country & Commercial Properties, Beck’s Turf Farm and Southeastern Land Group.

The world famous and always popular Barbecue House of Auburn will once again cater the event and we expect an excellent turnout just for the purpose of sampling their superb food.

In addition, we appreciate Dave Milton with Southeastern Land Group for being a sponsor and he will have a special presentation to make regarding our late friend and long-time AFA member Mason Dollar.

Please plan on joining us this Thursday to enjoy fellowship, good food, refreshments and to get an update on what AFA is planning for 2016.



AFA 2015 Roadshow to Visit Talladega County

selwoodThe Alabama Forestry Association will host its Piedmont District Meeting and Childersburg Regional Reception on Thursday, October 8th at the beautiful lodge at Selwood Farm. The District Meeting is slated to begin at 5pm with the Regional Reception to follow at 6pm.


The District Meeting is open to all AFA members and is the official annual business session for the membership in the district. A presentation will be made to update the membership on the latest forestry related news and issues. The current Piedmont District Board member is Chris Langley and he will serve through the conclusion of the 2017 year.

Regional Receptions are held with three objectives in mind. First, we use them as an opportunity to express our appreciation to our members for their support and interest in the Association. Second, these receptions are excellent opportunities to bring new prospects for AFA membership to meet and experience what it means to be a part of the AFA family. Finally, we invite local public officials to the receptions and this is a great time to meet and get to know the folks that represent us and to let them see and hear issues of importance to the timber industry.

If you have not already done so, you can register on-line at or contact Liz Chambers at 334-481-2135.

Please plan to come join the staff and have a festive evening! Feel free to bring your family and guests, as there is no cost for the event.

Alabama Forestry Foundation Improving Rural Alabama Education

education2A recent news article doesn’t provide very promising news for our education system. Mike Cason, with, writes in his article Alabama students trail national averages in ACT results (found here) that Alabama public high school graduates in 2015 received an average composite score of 18.8 on the ACT while the national average was 21.

He goes on to say that things are even worse when broken down by subject matter. In particular mathematics (22% vs. 42% nationally) and science (23% vs. 38% nationally) were not very impressive.

The Alabama Forestry Foundation is working to correct that trend.

Through its Blackbelt Initiative, the Foundation is completing its third year of supporting two rural schools in order to improve math and science skills among K-6 graders. The Foundation sponsors a teacher “coach” at J.U. Blacksher in Monroe County and Thomasville Elementary in Clarke County. These teacher “coaches” provide training and support to other teachers to emphasize math and science excellence in all aspects of the curriculum.

We recently received some results from Thomasville Elementary that are very exciting.

After three years of immersion in the program, third graders exceeded the national averages (measured as a % of “readiness”) in mathematics (63% vs. 50% nationally) and science (35% vs. 29% nationally). The fourth graders were just a little behind in mathematics (32% vs. 45% nationally) but ahead in science (38% vs. 35% nationally).

What are the initial conclusions from this data?

It’s still very early in the process as we are only three years into the program, but two conclusions are emerging.

First, the program is working. Consistent testing has only been going on for three years, but we are able to determine that the third graders that were tested three years ago were far below the national averages and now the third graders that were tested this year are ahead of the national averages. The only change has been the Foundation’s program.

Second, the difference between the third grade and fourth grade data indicates that success is better achieved the earlier a student is exposed to the program.

If you would like to learn more about the Foundation and its Blackbelt Initiative view an informational video here.

The AFA Annual Meeting will be held at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Alabama on September 13th – 15th. If you have not already registered for the conference, you can easily do so by going to

This year we will have the inaugural Alabama Forestry Foundation Breakfast on Monday, September 14th. Attorney General Luther Strange will be our keynote and will discuss the critical need we have for improving math and science skills in rural Alabama.

Excellent Continuing Education offered at AFA Annual Meeting


The Alabama Forestry Association’s Annual Meeting is coming soon and if you need another reason to come to the beach you might want to consider the Continuing Education Track offered on Sunday, September 13th.


We have an exceptional line-up to discuss Forest Landowner Issues that are both timely and informative.

The agenda includes presentations on the Endangered Species Act, the status of the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (“ATRIP”) and the challenges presented in developing a major renewal of the Gulf State Park.

A focus of the Annual Meeting this year is improving access to international markets. Presentations will also be made on what to expect from the continued development of foreign energy markets, how to structure your small business to access these prospective markets and an in-depth look at the audit requirements for forest certification for resources used to produce products for these markets.

Continuing education credits are being awarded for legal, accounting, forestry and logging. If you are attending the AFA conference, the fee is only $75 and includes your lunch.

For more information, see the Registration Form located here.

The AFA Annual Meeting is being held at the Perdido Beach Resort in beautiful Orange Beach, Alabama, September 13-15. If you have not already registered, it’s easy to do by just going to

“Spirit” & “Nova” to appear at AFA Annual Meeting

tigerAuburn University’s famous eagles “Spirit” and “Nova” will be in attendance at the Opening Reception of the Alabama Forestry Association’s Annual Meeting on Sunday evening September 13th.  The birds will be available for photographs and are sure to be a hit with the children (both young and old!)

The birds have been invited by AFA to provide a highlight for the great work done by the Southeastern Raptor Center housed with in Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

If you have not done so, you can register for the Annual Meeting by going to  You better hurry!  Rooms are filling up fast.  We expect record attendance this year.

In the mid-1970’s, Dr. Jimmy Milton founded the Southeastern Raptor Rehabilitation Center when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service brought six injured birds to the College of Veterinary Medicine and asked that the school become a rehabilitation hub for the Southeast. Dean Jimmy Greene, Dr. Greg Boring of Radiology and Dr. Milton arranged for Auburn University to become a regional center and accept injured birds of prey.

spiritDonations and volunteer work provided materials and labor to build a raptor barn behind the Small Animal Clinic in the late 1970’s. Birds were still treated in the hospital before being moved to small flight cages next to the barn. Later a hospital area was incorporated into the raptor barn.

In 1998 the Elmore Bellingrath Bartlett Raptor Center Hospital was opened off of Shug Jordan Parkway behind the College of Veterinary Medicine. The facility was made possible by a $300,000 donation from Dr. Woody Bartlett ’64 in honor of his mother, Elmore Bellingrath Bartlett, a noted Alabama philanthropist.

In 2002, the College of Veterinary Medicine opened the Carol Clark Laster/W.E. Clark Jr. Raptor Training Facility, which was made possible by Carol Laster of Birmingham. Laster, a retired junior high science teacher, donated $500,000 to the raptor center. Her husband, Dr. Russell Laster, is a 1951 graduate of the veterinary college. Mrs. Laster selected the Raptor Center for the gift after the death of her uncle W.E. Clark Jr., who left his estate to her care.

The Raptor Training Facility consists of 24 state-of-the-art mews and an office building. Non-releasable raptors are kept and trained at the facility for use in the educational programs. The Laster’s also contributed to the rehabilitation unit with the construction of six large flight aviaries for aerobic conditioning of releasable raptors.

In 2004, the Southeastern Raptor Rehabilitation Center (SERRC) was renamed the Southeastern Raptor Center (SRC) to reflect its multiple missions of rehabilitation, education and research.

Since its modest beginning, the Southeastern Raptor Center has treated and released thousands of birds of prey back into the wild. The educational unit has provided educational programs for thousands of schools, civic groups and churches in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky.

The Alabama Forestry Foundation utilizes the services of the Raptor Center to provide a meaningful hands on experience for rural school children to understand the benefits forests provide to these amazing birds.  See-

For an interesting story about the history of Auburn’s first eagle involving one of AFA’s members, see-

Attorney General Luther Strange to Headline Alabama Forestry Foundation Event

The Alabama Forestry Association’s Annual Meeting is scheduled for September 13-15, 2015 at the Perdido Beach Resort in beautiful Orange Beach, Alabama. Time is flying by and the conference will be upon us soon. If you have not registered yet, it’s easy to do so by registering on-line at


A new event is planned this year in conjunction with the conference. The Alabama Forestry Foundation will be highlighted at the Monday morning breakfast and sponsorship proceeds from the breakfast will go to the Foundation’s scholarship fund.

Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey will provide introductory remarks and then turn it over to Attorney General Luther Strange for his keynote presentation.

ivey2Ivey, a well-known and respected Association member, has been a tremendous supporter of forestry in Alabama. As a timberland owner, she well understands the importance the timber industry brings to rural Alabama. Ivey was born in Camden, Alabama (Wilcox County) and is a proud graduate of Auburn University. She has worked as a high school teacher, a bank officer, Assistant Director of the Alabama Development Office and with the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.

She was elected to be the State Treasurer in 2002 and 2006. As Treasurer, Ivey put the sources of the state’s revenues on-line for public viewing. She updated the office’s technology, cut administrative costs by over $5 million and oversaw the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Plan (PACT).

In 2010, Ivey was elected to be Alabama’s Lieutenant Governor, beating Democratic incumbent Jim Folsom, Jr. She was re-elected in 2014 and serves in that capacity today.

luther2Luther Strange is the 49th Attorney General for the State of Alabama. First elected in 2010, he beat incumbent Troy King in the Republican Primary. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama and received his undergraduate degree from Tulane University where he also graduated from law school.

Re-elected in 2014, Attorney General Strange is a national leader in advancing the causes of federalism and limited government by combatting the increasing unconstitutional overreach of the federal government and its assault on individual liberty.

Strange serves as Coordinating Counsel for the Gulf States in the historic Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Litigation in New Orleans where he has been actively involved in trying the case against BP and other defendants. He recently announced a settlement in the case with BP that will bring over $2 billion to the state.

The Alabama Forestry Foundation’s scholarship fund provides resources for the education initiatives managed by the Association that provide for enhanced educational opportunities in rural Alabama which lead to advancing the prospects of a well trained work force for the future of the timber industry.

The Foundation’s Black Belt Initiative provides funding for teacher coaches in rural Alabama schools to assist K-6 students in improving their math and science skills. To learn more about the Foundation’s activities, visit A short video presentation on the Black Belt Initiative can be found at

Captain Crunch for Breakfast at AFA Annual Meeting

The Alabama Forestry Association’s Annual Meeting is coming fast…we are now just 30 days away.  If you have not done so already, you can register on-line at

capncrunchWe are pleased to announce that Mike Kolen will be providing the breakfast address on Tuesday morning, September 15th.  Kolen is a former Auburn University standout linebacker and because of his hard-hitting style was nicknamed “Captain Crunch.”

An ALL-SEC linebacker at Auburn and a key member of the Miami Dolphin’s no-name defense, Kolen played eight years in the NFL and two championship teams, including the famed 17-0 team in 1972 that, to date, is still the only team to go without a loss in the NFL.


Kolen1For you Bama fans, you might be interested to know that Kolen was involved in one of the most famous plays in NFL history. The December 21, 1974 playoff game between the Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders is referred to as the “Sea of Hands” game. With 35 seconds to play and the Dolphins leading 26-21, the Raiders had the ball 1st and Goal at the Miami 8-yard line. Quarterback Ken Stabler dropped back to pass and was flushed out of the pocket and nearly sacked by defensive end Vern Den Herder. As he went down, Stabler wristed a weak pass toward running back Clarence Davis in the end zone. Davis was surrounded by three Dolphins, including Kolen. Kolen got his hands on the ball and nearly knocked it away, but somehow Davis, amidst a “sea of hands,” ended up with the ball and the touchdown, giving the Raiders the win and ending the Dolphins’ dynasty.

Kolen2His Auburn days included playing for the legendary coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan from 1966 to 1969.  He is in Auburn’s record books as being the leading tackler in 16 of his 25 starts for the Tigers.  He is honored with a spot along Auburn’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the “Tiger Trail” on College Street in downtown Auburn.  He has an annual Auburn award named for him, the Mike Kolen Award, presented each year at A-Day to the leading tackler from the previous season.

He now lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife Nancy. He has two children, Kelly and John, and five grandchildren. Mike owns Kolen Financial Team and works with his son.  He started a real estate development business in 1977 and a full concept Athletic Club in 1979 before selling them in 1994.

Mike is also well known for his public speaking and his “Team Message” is found to be quite inspirational.

Exploring the Backroads- Dream Ranch

During the three week break in the 2015 First Special Session of the Alabama Legislature, AFA staff was able to get out around Alabama and visit with members as we continue our Regional Reception caravan.  Alabama is blessed with many beautiful locales and we continue with our series of articles focusing on some of the most intriguing…

Today…. Dream Ranch, Guntersville, Alabama

DR1Nestled on the crest of a ridge overlooking Browns Creek off Lake Guntersville, Dream Ranch is truly a remarkable destination in a well-kept secret area of Alabama’s sub-Appalachian hill country.

Owned and operated by the Ainsworth family, father Billy and his two sons, Will and Austin, Dream Ranch ( is the culmination of years of hard work and detailed planning. The spectacular lodge with its incredible views is the centerpiece of the development that also includes deer, duck and quail hunting on its 2,000 acres (1,100 of which are enclosed in a high fence) and a deer breeding operation that has provided deer lineage for landowners throughout the continental U.S.

DR2Dream Ranch offers numerous hunting choices that include southern quail hunting on great upland cover with open fields full of blue stem and mixed hardwoods and pine plantations. Hunting is done in stretch Jeeps with safari seats and dog boxes over English pointers, setters, and Britttanys, which along with Boykin spaniels are used as flushers. This is an early release operation with supplemental birds and a hunter can expect to encounter double-digit coveys on morning or afternoon hunts, and obviously more birds on a full day hunts.

With Dream Ranch’s location near Lake Guntersville and the Tennessee River, there is a significant migration of ducks in the area. Dream Ranch has six flooded grain fields that border the river. They hunt these fields in rotation. No field is hunted more than eight times over the season. Forty-eight hunts are allowed and the result is a well-managed, low-pressure wild resource that is hard to find at any lodge anywhere.

The other hidden gem here is Lake Guntersville itself, which is one of the top bass lakes in North America and home to a Bassmaster’s tournament every year. The quality of this fishery is undeniable. During the fall and early spring the fishing can be combined with the upland hunting for some great sport. Guests are paired with resident guides who spend all their time on the lake and know right where to go and what to use.

But the real draw is the deer hunting. Within its high fence, Dream Ranch offers the opportunity to take some of the largest whitetail deer bred in the United States. Utilizing their patented deer breeding technology, Dream Ranch is capable of producing trophy bucks and attracts hunters from all over that seek that once-in-a-lifetime hunting experience.

DR3Opened in 2007, The Lodge is a 14,000 square foot log and stone structure that includes eight bedroom suites and several bunk rooms. The interior is decorated with wildlife mounts from all corners of the globe.



ainsworth2When Will Ainsworth graduated from Auburn University with a marketing degree, he first went to work at a church in Albertville, Alabama directing its youth ministry. It was at this point that he also started Dream Ranch on a part time basis. Because of his schedule, he was off on Friday and Saturday, he was able to spend time building the foundation that would ultimately become Dream Ranch. This part time avocation eventually led to a major decision.

Could he make it doing it on a full time basis?

With much prayerful consideration and discussion with this wife, he decided to give it a go and the rest is….well…history.

Ainsworth, from the very beginning, desired to have a focus on his customers having as fulfilling and personally rewarding experience as possible. He has certainly achieved that goal with Dream Ranch.

Now that he has been elected to the Alabama House of Representatives, Will must balance a vibrant and growing business with his public elective duties. Having his brother Austin join the business as a partner has helped alleviate some of that stress.

AFA is deeply grateful for Representative Ainsworth’s generosity in hosting our Guntersville Regional Reception and quarterly Board Meeting.  From the incredible view, the comfort and tranquility of the lodge, excellent hunting and the absolute focus on customer service, Dream Lodge truly stands out among Alabama destinations.

Next up….Ezell’s Fish Camp, Lavaca, Alabama

Exploring the Backroads- Crooked Oaks Lodge

As our legislators have returned home for the time being, things have settled down a bit in Montgomery allowing the AFA staff to get out of the office and visit our members across the state. Alabama is blessed with many beautiful locales and we will begin a series of articles focusing on some of the most intriguing….

First up….Crooked Oaks Lodge, Notasulga, Alabama

Crooked Oaks 2Crooked Oaks Lodge ( is owned and operated by former Auburn football coach and legend Pat Dye. The lodge is a 6-bedroom, 4 bath guesthouse. Four bedrooms are located upstairs in the lodge and open onto “The Gallery” Crooked Oaks 6which is a mini-museum of football memorabilia from Coach Dye’s 40 years in football. The two remaining bedrooms are downstairs and have private baths.

In the great room, you can relax in front of the stone fireplace or the 60-inch television or gather around the fire-pit on the patio next to the lodge. Best of all, in the late afternoon/early evenings, time is best spent in one of the numerous rocking chairs on the porches that allow for some of the best quiet time in Alabama while overlooking a lake used by a variety of waterfowl.

In addition to the main lodge, there are additional accommodations that include a 3-bedroom, 2-bath cottage and a 1-bedroom, 1-bath guest room. All the rooms on the property have beautiful rustic wood paneling and hand-hewn cedar beds.

Nestled among 700 acres in Macon County near the Notasulga community, the lodge provides a get-away destination that offers deer, quail and turkey hunting, a great place to stay for Auburn football weekends or just an opportunity for some peace and tranquility.

DSC_0033Crooked Oaks is the site of AFA’s annual Auburn Area Regional Reception and easily accommodates our 100+ guests. This reception has become one of the most popular membership events and is eagerly anticipated each year.

Coach Dye lives on the property and so it is not unusual for him to come by to visit. He has several dogs that also like to come by and provide a warm welcome.DSC_0055

A visit to Crooked Oaks is not complete without a guided tour of Coach Dye’s Quail Hollow Gardens (, his Japanese Maple Gardens and Nursery. Trees are available for purchase and the best time to view the tree’s fall colors is October and early November. The gardens boast over 5,000 trees and is well worth the time to check it out.

quail hollow 2

Next up…Dream Ranch, Guntersville, Alabama

AFA Bandwagon Hits the Road Next Week

The 2015 Regional Receptions are about to get underway as we will be visiting Florence and Auburn next week. Actually, two receptions have already been held, prior to the legislative session, in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.

But next week they begin in earnest and over the summer we should be stopping in a location near you.

DSC_0033There are several purposes for the Regional Receptions. First, and most important, is they provide an opportunity for the AFA staff to say thank you to our members for the support they provide to the Association. Good food and drink with no significant program…just good fellowship and fun.



Second, we invite local public officials so that they can see and get to know our members. They have probably met most of you, but they rarely get an opportunity to associate you as an integral part of AFA.


Lastly, they provide us an opportunity to invite prospective members to come see what AFA is all about.

The receptions are made possible by our Associate Member Sponsors. When you attend an event, please take a moment to express your appreciation to them. Associate Membership is reserved for those companies that benefit indirectly from the timber industry. They recognize that we are all in this together!

DSC_0004Monday, June 22nd at 6pm, we will be at the River Bottom Grille in Florence. Located at a marina directly beneath the US43/US78 Bridge crossing the beautiful Tennessee River, this venue has proven to be quite popular with our local membership. Senators Tim Melson and Larry Stutts are expected to attend and provide a brief update on their take on their first experience in the Legislature.

DSC_0055On Thursday, June 25th at 6pm, we will be in the Auburn area at Coach Pat Dye’s Crooked Oaks Lodge. Regardless of your college football preference, visiting with Coach Dye is always a treat. He sure loves his trees! And his dogs are always sure to visit and provide entertainment


Great sandwiches and ribs provided by The Barbeque House (and don’t forget the world famous peanut butter pie) are always a favorite of the locals.


Senator Tom Whatley and Representative Mark Tuggle (former AFA board member) are expected to be there to give us their feedback on the legislative session.

At both of these events, we are additionally hosting an AFA District Meeting. The state is divided into 10 Districts from which our board members are selected. AFA hosts a district meeting in each district every year. The District Meetings begin at 5 pm and are open to all current AFA members.

Please RSVP to Liz at or 334-481-2135 (or better yet, do it on-line at so that we can know how much food to order.