Austin Carroll (WEA President and SFC Partner) presented at the recent Florida Panhandle and Forests and Drinking Water Workshop at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center in Eastpoint, Florida. Mr. Carroll spoke on the creation of the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) Central Water Reclamation Facility (CWRF) Forest Restoration Area. ECUA’s goal for the CWRF Forest Restoration area is to develop a sustainable, native forest ecosystem capable of maximizing groundwater recharge capabilities. ECUA has worked with SFC and WEA since 2016 to convert the former International Paper lands surrounding the CWRF, from cutover and unmanaged plantations towards Desired Future Conditions (DFCs) of sandhill pine, pine flatwoods, and mixed forested wetland communities. Restoration and enhancement activities have included exotic and invasive species control, mechanical and herbicide treatments, harvesting operations, longleaf pine and wiregrass planting, and the return of prescribed fire to these ecosystems. These practices, the ongoing management, and the long-term management plan developed by SFC and WEA are guided by current research results regarding managing forests for increased regional water availability (including the results of fellow speaker Dr. Matt Cohen, University of Florida). Also in attendance to answer questions regarding the project was Don Palmer, PE, Deputy Executive Director of Engineering and Environmental Services at ECUA. Mr. Carroll is Registered Forester and Certified Wildlife Biologist who serves as the SFC and WEA program manager for this restoration effort.
The Florida Panhandle Forest and Drinking Water Workshop is presented by the Florida Forest Service and the Workshop Planning Team to explore the connection between forests and safe, high quality drinking water, particularly for the northern part of the state, and foster collaboration and relationships among the forestry, drinking water and conservation sectors. It is a priority for and coordinated by the Southeastern Partnership for Forests and Water, whose purpose is to maintain healthy watersheds that provide safe, reliable drinking water, healthy forests, and strong local and regional economies.
Wiregrass Ecological Associates (WEA) Mississippi Area Manager Alex Harvey was recently selected as a member of the 2019-2020 cohort of the Mississippi Black Leadership Institute (MBLI) which is held annually by One Voice, a civic engagement, non profit organization working to democratize public policy. MBLI is an invitational institute for emerging leaders from various disciplines across the state of Mississippi, who participate in a nine-month curriculum of civic engagement, public policy and governance, state history, and relationship development. It is an effort to prepare and produce a cadre of informed, socially conscious transformative leaders and public servants. Graduates of MBLI will help to advance, advocate and articulate an agenda of equity in their respective communities.
The opening session for Mr. Harvey’s MBLI cohort was held August 8th to 11th in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus’ Mississippi Policy Conference in Tunica, Mississippi. The Tunica Policy Conference which celebrated its 20th year is a national event which brings elected officials and civic leaders from all over the country to the Mississippi Delta. The Conference also included the Bennie G. Thompson Sporting Clays Challenge an annual event hosted in partnership with Ducks Unlimited.
Alex, a graduate of Mississippi State University’s College of Forest Resources, is also a Forester with Southern Forestry Consultants and owns Legacy Land Management, LLC (LLM). LLM is a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) in Mississippi and Louisiana and Certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) with the Mississippi Development Authority. Alex is also a 2017 alum of the Mississippi Economic Council’s Leadership Mississippi development program.
Wiregrass Ecological Associates (WEA) staff presented as invited faculty at the 33rd Annual Environmental Permitting Summer School in Marco Island, Florida. The event, put on by the Florida Environmental Network, attracts more than 850 attorneys, consultants, officials, and landowners and is an excellent opportunity for professionals in a variety of fields to increase their knowledge on rules, regulations and ongoing projects in the environmental and ecological fields.
Austin D. Carroll and George Fullerton authored a presentation about the effects of Hurricane Michael on threatened and endangered species. Mr. Fullerton presented these findings during the “Successful Applications of Imperiled Species Management Practices” session. Hurricane Michael caused widespread damage throughout northwest Florida in 2018. This includes significant impacts to populations and/or habitat for gopher tortoises, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and flatwoods salamanders. Through early action and continued management, natural resource professionals have sought to mitigate damages caused by this storm and develop strategies for recovery. This presentation documented findings from public and private land managers across the impacted areas and how these lessons can help improve resiliency in the future.
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Mr. Carroll is the President of WEA and has served on the Environmental Permitting Summer School faculty for the last 10 years. He has extensive experience with imperiled species management and conservation across the Southeast. He currently serves as Program Manager for the Apalachicola National Forest Gopher Tortoise Research and Recipient Site.
Mr. Fullerton is a Wildlife Biologist who holds a BS in Wildlife and Fisheries from the University of Georgia and a MS in Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture from Auburn University. At WEA he works extensively with threatened and endangered species projects across the Southeast, dealing primarily with red-cockaded woodpeckers and gopher tortoises.