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May 27, 2004   Email to Friend 

Federation Receives Grant For Wildlife Enhancement
Debra Davis

Alabama Farmers Federation State Wildlife Committee Chairman Leo Allen of Choctaw County, left, and Federation Wildlife Director Steve Guy, right, meet with wildlife biologist Neil Waer following a meeting at the Alfa headquarters.
The Alabama Farmers Federation has received a $65,000 grant that will help farmers and other landowners maximize wildlife habitat on their property. Hopefully, such efforts also will open new financial opportunities for the landowners.

The Federation applied for the federal grant last fall, which was funded through Alabama Forestry Commission, a state agency that protects and manages forest in Alabama and advises landowners about best management practices.

Steve Guy, director of the Federation's Wildlife Division, wrote the grant application and said he's excited about what the funds will do to help farmers.

"The grant includes money for a contract with a wildlife biologist who will assist farmers and landowners on an as-needed basis on how to make improvements to their land," Guy said. "In addition to that, we'll also be producing a video that can be used by landowners throughout the state that will demonstrate various improvements they can make and what results they can expect."

The Federation has retained Neil Waer of Auburn who has a doctorate in wildlife management. In addition to working one-on-one with landowners, Waer also will conduct tours and management seminars during the coming year.

Waer met with members of the Federation's State Wildlife Committee May 4 at the Alfa Farmers' headquarters in Montgomery. State Wildlife Committee Chairman Leo Allen of Choctaw County said he believes the grant will open lots of new doors for Federation members.

"Because Alabama is so blessed with abundant wildlife, we have numerous opportunities for hunting and fishing in our state," Allen said. "There are cases where farmers can make additional income through managing their wildlife that will enable them to keep their land and remain on the farm.

"Too often I think farmers believe that improving wildlife habitat will interfere with production agriculture. But, there are many ways the two can complement each other and can actually improve the farmer's financial situation," he added.

Guy said that's exactly what drove the formation of the Wildlife Division of the Alabama Farmers Federation four years ago. "Hunting and fishing is a great recreational sport and it's astounding how much money is spent in those areas," Guy said.

"Hunting and fishing pumped about $2 billion into our economy last year, and it continues to grow each year."

Waer said he's excited about working with farmers and other landowners.

"It is completely possible to integrate good wildlife habitat management practices with current farming in such a way to benefit both the Alabama farmer and wildlife in the state," he said.

Requests for assistance should be submitted to Guy by email at sguy@alfafarmers.org or phone him at 1-800-392-5705, ext 4305. For more information about the Federation's Wildlife Division, visit the website www.alabamawildlife.com.

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