Sunflower Fields At The Forks Of The River Wildlife Management Area Draw Wildlife As Well As Spectators

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Forks of the River WMA in Knox County is in full color as sunflowers planted for wildlife management are in full bloom, but the fields are not only drawing in wildlife.  Local residents are also flocking to the area to enjoy the bright, showy blooms.

TWRA managers and technicians annually plant around 70 acres of the WMAs 600 acres in crops that are beneficial to wildlife, but none of them offer the aesthetic value that sunflowers do.

However, while the large blooms are pleasing to the human eye, the seeds that the flowers leave behind are the greater purpose.  WMA Manager Bill Smith says that the fields are planted primarily to attract mourning doves, which rely heavily on planted crops as their food source.  Smith also says that the Forks of the River WMA is the best area in the region for mourning dove hunting.  Hunters harvested over 1,300 birds on opening day last year, which offered the highest average per hunter in TWRA’s east Tennessee region.

The sunflowers also benefit a host of other nongame birds including Gold Finches, Northern Cardinals, Indigo Buntings, as well as a variety of sparrows and other songbirds.

Mr. Smith plants the fields on a two-year crop rotation in order to prevent diseases or insect problems that might develop.  Other crops rotated with sunflowers include millet, buckwheat, grain sorghum, corn and popcorn.

The WMA, which came under TWRA ownership and management in the 1990s, is also being managed for early successional habitat.  By use of herbicides and mechanical means, some areas are being converted into native grasslands and shrub/scrub habitats benefitting Prairie Warblers, Northern Shrike, Yellow-breasted Chad, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Bobwhite (quail), American Woodcock, a variety of sparrows, and Eastern Wild Turkey nesting and brood habitat.

While hundreds of visitors, hikers, bikers, and wildlife watchers enjoy the showy sunflowers and benefits of the wildlife management area, the sportsmen and women of the state who purchase hunting and fishing licenses pay the cost.  “If it were not for the seed, sweat, and upkeep of our WMAs by the TWRA and the funding from hunting license dollars, theses areas wouldn’t be available for all to enjoy,” said Mr. Smith. “If you enjoy them, thank a hunter.” 

The 2014 dove hunting season will open at noon on Sept. 1, and will have a daily bag limit of 15 birds.  Along with the Tennessee Small Game Hunting and Fishing License (Type 001), an appropriate WMA Small Game Hunting permit will be required to hunt doves at the Forks of the River WMA.  An Annual or Lifetime Sportsman License covers both the license and permit requirement.  Hunters will also be required to possess a Tennessee Migratory Bird Permit except for the following: disabled veterans, Tennessee residents over age 65, Tennessee residents under age 13, Lifetime Sportsman License holders, and military personnel on leave or furlough.

Claire Henley: Adventures West (Luxury In Lake Tahoe)

(Editor's Note: Chattanoogan Claire Henley started an adventure of a lifetime on the remote Pacific Crest Trail in April. Along the way, she had many adventures and found herself a husband named Big Spoon). As we stood on the side of Highway 50, our arms extended and thumbs raised in an effort to get a ride back to the trailhead at Echo Lake, I reflected on the past few days ... (click for more)

Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Here are upcoming news and events from Outdoor Chattanooga: Fireside at the Greenway Farm  Thursday  Evenings in October Join Outdoor Chattanooga for a free, family friendly, outdoor music series known as  Fireside  at the  Greenway Farm  in Hixson, TN. We're proud to announce that  Tennessee Valley Federal ... (click for more)

2 Pedestrians Struck By CSX Train

Chattanooga Police responded on Thursday at 2 p.m. to 900 North Sanctuary Road  to an accident involving a CSX train and two pedestrians. Both victims were transported to a local hospital. Chattanooga Police are working with CSX police on the investigation.   Information will be updated as it becomes available. Chattanooga Police ask anyone with information ... (click for more)

Volkswagen US President Says Probe On To Find Out Who At VW Authorized "Defeat Devices"; VW Will Not Try To Certify 2016 Diesel Models

Volkswagen US President Michael Horn told a House committee on Wednesday that VW is conducting a thorough investigation to determine how "defeat devices" came to be placed on its emission devices. He said Volkswagen first admitted the massive deception in a meeting with EPA and California regulators on Sept. 3. Mr. Horn also said that Volkswagen will not try to certify 2016 ... (click for more)

Erlanger Settlement Understandable, But Disgusting

Re: Erlanger Reaches Settlement With Former CEO Understandable from a legal liability standpoint but disgusting non the less. Gus Bryan (click for more)

Roy Exum: An Unfortunate Sentence

There was a most unfortunate line in a recent email written to me and, in retrospect, I should not have included it in some examples of the huge response regarding the bicycle lanes now being installed on Broad Street. I’ll admit I misread the line because I feel certain I know what the writer was trying to convey. As a matter of fact, I received enough of an outcry I want to clarify ... (click for more)