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DHS, Sweet Water face off in forestry competition

PROVIDENCE &8212; Teams from Demopolis High School and Sweet Water High School competed Thursday in an interactive forestry competition at Chickasaw State Park.

According to D&8217;Mar Moore, a forester with the Alabama Forestry Commission this is only the second year for the annual competition. Using local Future Foresters of Alabama teams from the county, the competition is just one way to promote interest in forestry.

Tim Kelley, an AFC forester from Clarke County, was on hand to help the group run the five-phase competition. He has been assisting with the competitions since he started working with the AFC in the 1980s. Kelley said a competition of this nature for high school students gets them interested in the industry at an early age.

For the one-day competition, competitors are asked to try their hand at timber cruising, tree identification, compass course, timber stand improvement and also take a 50-question timed written exam.

According to Kelley, the idea behind timber cruising is to take a sampling of trees, measure them for width and volume in order to determine a total volume of a certain piece of land.

Another popular part of the competition is tree identification, in which competitors are given a lost of approximately 50 species to choose from. Moore said in a confined area such as Chickasaw State Park and given the species found in Marengo County, only about 20 of the species will be a viable choice in tree identification.

But for the five seniors representing Demopolis High School, their favorite part of the competition was a compass course involving using pacing to determine direction and distance from different marked stakes.

A final interactive phase of the competition is known as timber stand improvement, where teams were asked to read a hypothetical statement about a certain landowner and his property. Using these criteria with accepted timber practices, contestants determine weather to harvest, leave or deaden certain trees.

This particular application is something the AFC regularly encounters. Kelley said he and his fellow foresters provide technical assistance for private landowners. Using sound timber practices and the needs of the landowners, they are able to maintain timber at its optimum state.

The winning group from Thursday&8217;s competition will advance to the district level competition.