By Kelley Lane-Sivley, Redstone Rocket StaffApril 10, 2009
Greg Hicks spent his childhood in love with the Alabama outdoors. Now working as a forester with the Garrison Intern Program, he is helping preserve the beauty and resources of the state he grew up in.
"I was always in the woods," he said. "That's where I grew up. I love my job in forestry."
Hicks graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor's in forestry in 2004. Although he is an Alabama Crimson Tide fan, he said that attending a rival university wasn't as bad as one might think.
"There were other Alabama fans there, we didn't have to meet in secret or anything," he said laughing. "Auburn football was good at the time and Alabama wasn't, so they were happy to have us around."
After graduation, Hicks took a job with the state of Florida's forestry division. He spent two years there working with the community of Marianna in the Florida panhandle.
"I was a kind of liaison. If you had a question about your trees, I would come out," he said.
After a brief stint in Georgia with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Natural Resource Conservation Service, he came to Redstone in 2007 under the now retired post forester Jesse Horton. He is thrilled to be so close to home again. Hicks is an Arab, Ala., native.
"My goal when I left college was to come back home," he said. "I wanted to be in public land management. There are two places you can do that. One is Bankhead National Forest and the other is here at Redstone."
As a forester on post, Hicks keeps a watchful eye on Redstone's trees. Part of his job includes managing prescribed burning of underbrush.
"I'm the one putting the smoke up," he said. "We do it on a three years cycle. With the ranges, we do it for hazard reduction to get some of the fuel off the ground. They're going to start fires; we try to keep them from becoming wildfires. We also improve wildlife habitat. We open up the understory and make it easier to walk around."
He also manages tree harvesting. When a construction project calls for the clearing of trees, Hicks puts together a bid package so that contractors can not only remove the trees in question, but also use the lumber they provide.
"We want to use our resources, not waste them," he said.
Hicks isn't confined to the woods. He goes out to housing and organizational areas to check out damaged or sick trees in an effort to minimize the spread of tree diseases. A small portion of his job also involves monitoring pest control efforts on the installation.
When Hicks isn't outdoors at work, he is outdoors at play. He's an avid golfer, but not a great one, he said. He simply enjoys the game and the time outdoors it provides. He's also a recreational fisherman. He's not picky about what he catches, as long as it cooks up nice.
"I like anything I can eat - bass, crappie, whatever," he said laughing. "Catch and release is fun, but I'd rather eat it if I can."