The National Forests in Alabama include approximately 667,000 acres of National Forest System land in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, Cumberland Plateau, Piedmont and Coastal Plain areas of the state. There are four National Forests, divided into six ranger districts.
The Bankhead National Forest is located in the northwestern part of the state in Lawrence, Winston, and Franklin Counties. The Conecuh National Forest is located in the southern part of the state along the Alabama/Florida line in Covington and Escambia Counties. The Talladega National Forest is divided into three Range Districts; the Oakmulgee District lies in the central part of the state, east of Tuscaloosa in Hale, Tuscaloosa, Bibb, Perry, Chilton and Dallas Counties. The Shoal Creek and Talladega Districts are located in the northeastern part of the state in Cherokee, Calhoun, Cleburne, Talladega and Clay Counties. The Tuskegee National Forest lies in the east central part of the state west of Auburn, in Macon County.
About 850 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes inhabit the four national forests in Alabama. They are either residents or seasonal migrants. Game animals include white-tailed deer, bobwhite quail, gray and fox squirrel, turkey, rabbit, raccoon, and various waterfowl. Threatened or endangered species include the red-cockaded woodpecker, the flattened musk turtle, and several species of mussels.
The Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources cooperates in the management and protection of wildlife. Five wildlife management areas are located in the National Forests in Alabama. Hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing are important activities in these national forests. Partnerships with many agencies, organizations, and individuals assist in the management of these important resources.
The four national forests provide municipal watersheds for seven cities, serving about 350,000 people. Employees efforts are directed toward developing and implementing practices to prevent soil loss or damage and to protect water quality.
There are three wilderness areas located within the National Forests in Alabama. The 25,002-acre Sipsey Wilderness in the Bankhead National Forest with a few scattered patches of virgin timberland. The 7,275-acre Cheaha Wilderness in the Talladega National Forest offers high elevations, with numerous overlooks for panoramic views of east-central Alabama. Dugger Mountain Wilderness is the second highest mountain (2,140 feet) located in the Talladega National Forest near Piedmont in northeast Alabama.
Timber contributes to the beauty and economy of the areas. Timber removal is a part of a scientific management program for the national forests and is a management tool for healthy and sustainable forests.
These same forests protect watersheds, provide homes for wildlife, and give variety to the landscape.
For information about forest health for all national forests, visit USDA Forest Service - Healthy Forests Initiative.