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Officials outline base’s pecan picking regulations

By Marti Gatlin | | November 8, 2012

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Gathering pecans near Production Plant Albany’s test track and west of Radford Boulevard could be considered a federal offense.
Since the pecans are falling from Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s pecan trees and with the harvest of pecans beginning this month, Installation and Environmental Division officials emphasized MCLB Albany’s pecan gathering regulations.
Harvesting runs until January.
Base and tenant commands’ Marines, Sailors, Civilian-Marines, contractors and families may only collect pecans by the Major S.P. “Swede” Hansen Officers’ Lounge, Building 10200, Goodloe Circle, near the Hill Village Officers’ Housing Area and outside of the fenceline along Fleming and Mock roads, according to Brian Wallace, environmental branch head, I&E Division.
“We want to educate the base community, especially new employees and contractors, about the regulations,” he said. “Anything outside of the fenceline we don’t regulate so the public may pick up pecans on Fleming and Mock roads.”
People should be aware of traffic along Fleming and Mock roads when gathering pecans and may pick them up anytime, Wallace added.
Collecting pecans at the base’s pecan orchard near Production Plant Albany’s test track and west of Radford Road is unauthorized, according to Julie Robbins, natural resource manager, I&E Division.
The area is under a 10-year lease agreement and only contractors such as those working on the test tracks, hunters, Marine Corps Police Department and Installations and Environmental Division staff are allowed access to those areas.
“The pecan nuts by the test track are owned by a lease agreement,” she said, noting the trees are owned by the base.
Wallace said there about a dozen trees by the officers’ club and about two dozen off Fleming and Mock roads, where the pecans may be picked up.
He stressed that collecting pecans in the unauthorized areas could be costly to violators.
“We have had contractors identified out there at night driving around and picking them up (in the unauthorized areas),” he said. “Violators can be turned over to the Marine Corps Police Department. If we catch somebody picking up a few and eating them, we will give (him or her) a warning, but if (he or she is) harvesting them by the bucket loads, we will turn (him or her) over to the police department.”
Al Belanger, game warden, reiterated that individuals gathering pecans in the unauthorized areas are stealing pecans.
“A lot of people don’t realize the pecan orchard is under contract and that’s their livelihood, so essentially (violators) are stealing pecans,” he said. “Just because it’s on the installation doesn’t mean it’s free,” he said. “Normally what I will do is check (the individual’s) ID and explain to (that person) the process. Usually I will write (him or her) a warning violation and repeat offenders could be sent to the federal court system. The fine schedule is put out by the United States Court of the Middle District of Georgia. After someone has received a written warning and does it again, he or she could be charged with criminal trespass, which the fine is up to $250.”
To keep the base’s pecan trees in peak production, Robbins said within the next six months a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office pecan specialist from Tifton, Ga., will assist the I&E staff in developing a plan for long-term management and evaluation of the trees.
“We know most of the trees are very mature,” she said. “We will want to get rid of the trees that aren’t producing and replace them with trees that are. There is a lot that goes into the management of an orchard that people don’t see behind the scenes as far evaluating soils, leaf analysis on the trees and determining what nutrients they require.”
For more information about the pecan picking regulations, call Robbins at 229-639-9946.

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