Alabama Forestry Commission

Race fans headed to Talladega Superspeedway this week may need to leave their lighters at home.

Talladega Superspeedway issued a burn ban for the race week that ends on October 24th. That comes on top of bans from Governor Robert Bentley and the State Forestry Commission.

The ban includes campfires, pit fires, bonfires, and the use of fireworks on Talladega grounds.

Grant Lynch is the chairman of Talladega Superspeedway. He says this isn’t the first time weather conditions have made for a change in plans.

Brynn Anderson / AP

Weather conditions across the state have led to hundreds of fast-spreading wildfires, and the Governor has had enough.

Yesterday, Governor Bentley signed an emergency order banning all outside fires across 46 of Alabama’s counties due to the drought conditions. The declaration prohibits all campfires, bonfires, trash or debris fires or any other open burning in any of the specified counties.

Those in violation of the order can be fined up to $500 and sentenced to up to six months in jail, according to the Alabama Forestry Commission.

Forest fires have been chewing through acres of land throughout Alabama. APR student reporter Parker Branton has more.

On Sunday alone, there were 65 active forest fires burning through the state.

The Alabama Forestry Commission is working around the clock to control the fires by bulldozing containment lines and backfiring until the fires are no longer a threat.

Coleen Vansant is the spokeswoman for the Alabama Forestry Commission. She says the weather conditions have made this fall fire season unlike any other.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management and Black Warrior Riverkeeper are investigating after the city of Northport dumped tens of thousands of gallons of sewage into nearby waterways over the weekend.

The City of Northport issued a statement Saturday saying four pumping stations had to be shut down to make an emergency repair to the main sewage pipeline. That eventually caused overflows at all four stations, and city officials estimate around 100,000 gallons of wastewater drained into local creeks and the Black Warrior River.

The Alabama Forestry Commission says it has received numerous reports about pine trees dying in northwest Alabama, and the culprit appears to be the larvae of the loblolly pine sawfly.

The commission says infestations have been reported in Colbert, Marion, Franklin, Lamar and Fayette counties. The commission is conducting aerial surveys and will notify landowners where problems are detected.

Amanda Sowards/Montgomery Advertiser

The Alabama Forestry Commission is adding a new dog to help sniff out possible cases of arson.

   The agency says it recently bought a second bloodhound to help investigate cases of suspected woodlands arson.

   The commission's head law enforcement officer, Craig Hill, says the hound will be based in north Alabama to help track down possible crimes there. Her name is "Ember."

   Hill says the agency's first bloodhound, named "Blaze," is stationed in south Alabama and it's not practical to have one animal for the entire state.

Feds want Alabama to repay $5.1 million

Jul 12, 2012
U.S. Forest Service / Wikipedia Commons

The U.S. Forest Service says it will soon send the Alabama Forestry Commission a bill for $5.1 million due to unsubstantiated spending from a federal grant.

The notice was contained in a letter from the service's chief financial officer, Thelma Strong, to State Forester Linda Casey. Strong said the state has not adequately addressed unsupported costs.

Casey says the federal government is misunderstanding Alabama's accounting procedures for the grant, and her agency doesn't owe anything.