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Geneva State Forest Offers Recreational Opportunities

 

Wildlife and the Outdoors
 
Geneva State Forest Offers Recreational Opportunities
Fishing Lake Re-opens October 1, 2008
 
By John S. Powers, Area Biologist, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
 
             The Geneva State Forest (GSF), owned by the Alabama Forestry Commission in extreme western Geneva County, encompasses 7,200 acres of primarily longleaf pine timber. It is the largest state forest in Alabama. Timber management is the primary objective on the GSF with all associated activities carried out in an ecologically sound manner with an eye to preserving and improving the native longleaf pine ecosystem.
While production of timber with subsequent regeneration of forest stands is the goal on the Geneva State Forest, it provides Alabama’s citizens with much more than wood products and revenue. In the true spirit of multiple-use management, the GSF provides the public with recreational opportunities that include fishing, hiking, primitive camping, picnicking, bird watching, trail riding and hunting.
Since spring of 1984, the focal point for much of this activity has been the 100-acre Geneva State Forest Lake. Constructed by the Alabama Forestry Commission over several years, the lake quickly developed a reputation not only as a great place to fish, but also as a great place to go. Regrettably, problems with the plumbing associated with the lake dam resulted in low water levels (and sometimes virtually no water at all) beginning in 1999. Repairs to the dam were completed, though, and in February 2007, the Geneva State Forest Lake began to refill.
During the process of repairing the dam, the lake was drained as completely as possible. Remaining pools of water were treated with rotenone to eliminate any remaining fish and provide the opportunity to make a fresh start in managing the lake’s fish population. Since water levels have risen, the lake has been stocked with 10,000 bass and 50,000 bream fingerlings, as well as 700 channel catfish. Management strategies have been developed in cooperation with Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Fisheries Section biologists. Creel limits will be set and posted after a final balance check.
The Geneva State Forest Lake will officially re-open for public fishing on October 1, 2008. All those over the age of 16 who wish to fish will have to be properly licensed and all applicable Alabama fishing regulations will be in effect. Fishing will be legal during the hours between sunrise and sunset only. Fishing from boats will be allowed, but no gasoline-powered motors will be permitted. A daily permit fee is required for each person 16 years old or older for fishing and for other approved recreational activities on the Geneva State Forest. Permits can be obtained at the honor box located at the lake entrance. Permit stubs must be in possession to be valid.
Geneva State Forest also provides the public with quality hunting opportunities. Through a cooperative agreement with the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, the Alabama Forestry Commission has allowed both large and small game hunting for many years as part of the Covington Wildlife Management Area. Recently, rising demand for leasable hunting land and the income such leases potentially generate resulted in the loss of approximately 15,000 acres historically part of the Covington WMA. This loss of acreage brought into question the future of public hunting on the Geneva State forest as well. The questions were answered quickly, however, and an official Memorandum of Understanding between the Alabama Forestry Commission and the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries is in the process of finalization. This new cooperative agreement will solidify the status of what is now the Geneva State Forest Wildlife Management Area for the near future.
Though the name of the management area has changed and its acreage reduced, the format for its operation will remain the same. Small game hunters and those hunting deer with bow and arrow will be required to be in possession of a signed seasonal permit (map) in addition to appropriate state and wildlife management area licenses. Seasonal permits will be available from the Geneva State Forest headquarters on Forest Area Road and from other distribution sites in Samson, Kinston, Opp, Onycha, Florala and Lockhart. Daily permits for scheduled gun deer hunts will be available on the days of the hunts at the check station which will be located at the Geneva State Forest headquarters rather than at the old Lawrence Tower site.
For more information on Geneva State Forest visit www.forestry.alabama.gov or www.outdooralabama.com.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

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