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.


Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Here are upcoming news and events from Outdoor Chattanooga: Outdoor Chattanooga Featured Event Huck Finn Family Paddling Adventure  July 10   Join Outdoor Chattanooga on a  Huck Finn Family Paddling Adventure  on  Fri., July 10  from  5 to 8:30 p.m.  We'll paddle canoe pontoons ... (click for more)

Georgia Is 1 Of 3 State Agencies To Receive Grant through New RBFF Program

The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) on Monday announced the recipients of its new State Innovative R3 Program Grants. The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department are the first three states to receive funds through this new grants program to support innovative and sustainable state marketing ... (click for more)

Plumbers Bring Complaints To WWTA; Told New Contracts Are Ready

Several plumbers on Thursday brought complaints to a committee of the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) and got little response other than being told that new contracts are ready. Kay Keefe of Keefe Plumbing said the small number of plumbing companies still participating in the program to repair leaky lines to homes, have long been operating without ... (click for more)

Non-Custodial Father Who Picked Up Children At Chattanooga Daycare Is Caught In Ohio

A non-custodial father who picked up his children at a Chattanooga daycare and headed north has been caught in Ohio. T ony Thomas and the children have been located in Toledo. T homas is in custody in Lucas County and awaiting extradition. T he children were unharmed and will be in Child Protective Services custody until the mother is able to pick them up. ... (click for more)

Could The Marriage Decision Spark A New Independence Day?

I confess that this year I am having a hard time with the idea of celebrating the 4th of July Independence Day. It is not because I am not thankful to God for what was done on that day, what it represents, and the blessings I’ve experienced that flow from it. On the other hand, I want to think that maybe this year’s celebration will mark a period in our history in which a new movement ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Pre-Fourth Observations

I hate to do this, right on the heels of my monthly ‘Walk in the Garden,’ but I have more things on my desk that I dare not leave unnoticed before tomorrow’s Star-Spangled celebration. Foremost is the plea to anyone who shoots off firecrackers to please wear eye protection and ask watchers to stand back. Our eye doctors say firecracker-related injuries have doubled in the last three ... (click for more)