Top Conservation Stories
of 2020

The year 2020 certainly needs no introduction. For Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, this year’s uncertainty and important social distancing measures have left us longing for the community-focused events that are the backbone of our chapters and organization. Like most, our organization has experienced challenges and negative impacts due to COVID-19. Nevertheless, we have accomplished remarkable wildlife habitat achievements, and the main reason for that continued success is YOU. Your support as a member and donor continues to make a significant impact each and every day for the organization and across the upland landscape at a time when we need it most.

First and foremost, we want to say thank you for your continued support through these challenging times. Additionally, we would like to highlight some of the accomplishments you have helped achieve over the year and give you a prelude to an upcoming announcement of a new initiative which will allow us to take our conservation work to a level higher than ever before.

Habitat Conservation

Habitat — we are The Habitat Organization, and our team of wildlife professionals were able to permanently protect, enhance and improve wildlife habitat across the country. This critical wildlife habitat also improved water quality and soil health, while increasing outdoor access for everyone to enjoy. Successes such as these require cooperation of private landowners, government agencies, funding partners, and the expertise of our organization’s team … which includes support from our donors, members, and chapters. Our biggest successes in habitat conservation over this past year are tied making our public land habitat the best it can be (Public Land Enhancement), protecting critical habitat and opening it to public access (Build a Wildlife Area®), and working hand-in-hand with private landowners to restore and enhance habitat on their farm or ranch (Private Land Habitat).



Our country’s treasures lie within our public lands, often known to be foundational habitat that we build upon through our private lands work. Our organization and members appreciate these treasures for the variety of benefits we know public lands provide. The following state programs show how our engagement is making a significant impact by improving habitat, access, increasing wildlife populations, and supporting our public land portfolio as a sound investment.

The Michigan Adopt-a-Game Area Program has enhanced 1,745 acres on 22 public land sites. Additionally, in Wisconsin the Adopt a Wildlife Area Program is working on 13 public land enhancement projects on 385 acres. Habitat SHARE programs, available in both Nebraska (36,000 acres on 128 projects since 2010) and Ohio, can leverage Pittman-Robertson funding (3:1) to enhance habitat on state and federal lands. Additionally, we are partnering with Texas Parks & Wildlife on a public access position which, through the VPA-HIP program, will enroll 3,000 acres per year into access opportunities.

Our Habitat Forever team continues to be fully engaged in public land management and enhancement in states like Kansas, Montana, and South Dakota. The Burley Landscape and BOSH partnerships in Idaho have enhanced over 30,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and state lands in priority sagebrush country—critical habitat for an array of wildlife. In Minnesota, PF’s Enhanced Public Lands Program has restored and enhanced 34,077 acres of grasslands and wetlands since 2012, with 9,000 additional acres enhanced in 2020.

These efforts are aimed at ensuring our public lands remain productive for the wildlife we all care about. Our organization continues to proactively improve our public lands to make them the best they can be for wildlife and people.



Permanent habitat protection continues to be of the highest importance for our members, supporters, and chapters — it puts the “Forever” in Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. Through our member and donor support, along with strategic partnerships, we are poised to accelerate habitat protection across the country in strategic locations. This remains a critical tool in our efforts to reverse the trend of habitat loss and create more opportunities for public access across the country, along with our goal of recruiting and retaining hunters and conservationists. We work tirelessly to strengthen our existing permanent habitat protection partnerships and develop new and innovative endeavors because we are passionate about the work and know its importance, all while increasing chapter and donor engagement. Over the next five years, we aim to permanently protect 75,000 acres of habitat.

We are actively pursuing strategic projects across the country, such as the launch of new projects in Kansas, Ohio, Missouri, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Typical Build A Wildlife Area® projects have multiple benefits that protect important habitat types like native remnant prairie; have significant restoration potential for wetlands, grasslands, woodlands and edge; build upon prior investments in wildlife habitat; and always create significant access for the public. Iowa’s Build a Wildlife Area® program enabled private donors, chapters, and partners to leverage their funds in pursuit of state and federal grant dollars to be used for acquisition of public recreation land. This opportunity allowed us to acquire and create public access for three new properties, totaling 971 acres in Jackson, Jasper, and Tama counties.

In Minnesota, through our Land & Legacy Initiative, PF purchased in fee-title 29 strategic parcels totaling over 4,100 acres. These tracts, acquired from willing sellers, will be restored and donated to either the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as Wildlife Management Areas or the US Fish and Wildlife Service as Waterfowl Production Areas to be managed for wildlife habitat, open to the public, and protected in perpetuity.



It is no secret to us. America’s farmers, ranchers, and landowners hold the key to abundant wildlife populations and a healthy ecosystem. We know that working landscapes are particularly critical for wildlife species, including pheasants and quail. Through one-on-one technical assistance provided by our team, we can deliver critical wildlife habitat for pheasants, quail, pollinators, and other wildlife while helping farmers, ranchers and landowners meet objectives for their operations.

Over the past year, our organization has positively impacted private land habitat at a remarkable pace, putting the 2018 Farm Bill into action and creating other unique ways to deliver habitat—benefiting more than 1.1 million acres and making over 31,000 connections with landowners across the country.

In North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa, with generous funding from Purina, we launched a new regional program: Soil Health and Habitat. With its first of three annual signups beginning in May 2020, significant interest was shown in the program with 50 applications covering nearly 63,000 acres. Pheasants Forever’s precision ag and conservation specialists are currently working with 12 farmers who met the eligibility criteria for 2020 and have opened the next round of signups for the 2021 phase of this program.

In Nebraska, PF & QF established a new Pathway for Wildlife program, an opportunity for private landowners in the state to establish wildlife and pollinator habitat. This program also provides an option for rural and urban communities to plant diverse native wildflowers for public pollinator outreach. Since the programs induction in 2019, 149 contracts have been signed, resulting in 21,323 acres improved and $406,080 spent. The Pathway for Wildlife program is a partnership between the Nebraska Environmental Trust, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever local chapters.

Through our growing team of biologists in Texas, we are providing support for the Rio Grande, Gulf Coast, and Oaks and Prairies Joint Ventures to aid in the delivery of the Grassland Restoration Incentive Program—a cost share program developed to allow habitat support and work. Additionally, we are working to lead a number of rangeland restoration efforts centered around grazing land conservation and prescribed fire across the state.

Across the upper Midwest, our Precision Agriculture Conservation program continues to grow and expand mission delivery for the organization. We hosted our 3rd annual Precision Ag Conservation Workshop, presented by John Deere, during National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic on February 19, 2020 and had 205 farmers, crop advisers, precision specialists, and conservation professionals in attendance. 2020 was also a strong growth year for adding capacity for Precision Ag and conservation specialists, which started the year at five wildlife professionals across the country and, by the end of the year, will more than double the team to 11 individuals.

We have had a great year of quail habitat development throughout the Southeastern United States. Our Working Lands for Wildlife Bobwhite Program Coordinator, Dr. Jessica McGuire, and our 14 Program Biologists were able connect with over 7,000 landowners, complete 200 management plans, and positively impact 30,000 acres of habitat for quail and other wildlife. Through our outstanding partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, we have renewed our agreement for these program positions to grow this initiative and continue to increase populations of bobwhite quail.

The Corners for Conservation and Wildlife program was developed to address the decline in grassland habitat and species, while assisting landowners in making use of odd areas. This program focuses on pivot corners, locating small areas to convert to high diverse grassland habitat, while also opening this land up for public access programs. This program wouldn’t be possible without the help from state funding partnerships. Key states driving this program include Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming, and it continues to expand across the regions.

Within Kansas, just over 414 acres were enrolled into our Corners for Wildlife Program and in Colorado, this past year alone, 872 habitat acres were created by utilizing 122 corners.

Education and Outreach

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Education and Outreach (E&O) program continues to accomplish important work in conservation and outdoor recreation by finding new and unique ways to educate and engage a diverse audience of hunters and conservationists. In the next five years we’re aiming to reach 1.5 million participants with new and expanded education and outreach programs. This past year, the E&O team has worked diligently to continue delivering mission and opportunities for all.


Women on the Wing

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Women on the Wing initiative continues to grow in our efforts to engage and inspire woman hunters and conservationists. In 2020, Women on the Wing expanded into the blog scene to include stories written by women, for women featured monthly on our new Women on the Wing webpage. Participants looking for women’s focused events can find additional information on our page, along with resources to get involved with the initiative.

Our efforts to reach a larger audience included shifting gears to virtual events and the organization launched its inaugural national Women, Wine & Wild Game virtual, live event featuring guest chef, Danielle Prewett, contributing editor for MeatEater and founder of Wild + Whole. The event hosted over 100 participants from 34 different states and 2 countries. The initiative continues to grow as more women landowners, farmers, ranchers, volunteers, hunters, and conservationists share their passion for wildlife conservation and the great outdoors.


Recruit, Retain, Reactivate

Recruiting, retaining, and reactivating (R3) hunter-conservationists is a team effort and it takes passionate individuals stepping up to the plate to preserve our outdoor lifestyle. One of the most incredible opportunities an outdoor enthusiast can experience is taking someone new along to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature. This past year, we had 683 sportsmen and sportswomen pledge to take new or lapsed hunters afield with them.

State and Federal Policy

Our goal in advocacy is to leverage the full strength of our grassroots organization, 750 chapters and 140,000 members nationwide—because we know every member and supporter can influence our government officials, and policy improvement for wildlife habitat occurs at both state and federal levels. Whether it’s a fly-in to Washington, DC to advocate for Farm Bill conservation programs, or it’s a fight for an outdoors legacy amendment, our organization will be there to advocate for sound conservation policy and program funding that delivers quality habitat.

This year has brought transformation in how conservation policy was prioritized and advanced in the Washington, DC. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a surprising surge in new conservation policy enactment with the passing of critical conservation programs not seen in 50 years! Truly Monumental!

The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) passed in June. This historical act permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 Million every year, while providing $9.5 Billion for much-needed funding for maintenance at our national parks, refuges, and forest service lands. Members can learn more about LWCF and the projects in their state by going to

The passage of the GAOA in mid-year gave Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, and other conservation groups the ability to focus on passing a package of bills known as the America's Conservation Enhancement Act (ACE). With its passage in Congress, and anticipated signing by the President, ACE reauthorized the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) at $60 Million a year through 2025. NAWCA has been one of our priority programs since its inception in 1989, where it has delivered 30 million habitat acres.

Our policy and implementation team continues to execute the suite of the 2018 Farm Bill that impacts tens of millions of conservation acres across the country. With an additional three million acres added to the CRP cap, and increased funding for several wildlife-related conservation programs, there is more opportunity to increase pheasant and quail acres over the next three years. In addition, USDA delivered $50 Million to state wildlife agencies to increase the amount of private lands open to public hunting (walk-in-access areas), fishing and recreation and to improve habitat on those lands.


Although this past year hasn’t been easy, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever refuse to slow down or allow these challenges to stop our mission of wildlife habitat conservation. Our organization was able to accomplish these efforts because of the support from you; our members, donors, chapters, and partners. As we move into 2021, we will continue to be more focused, efficient, and effective than ever before. We have outlined our strategic goals and look forward to announcing these and out special initiative in the first months of the new year. Our uplands are counting on us, and with your support we are committed to staying the course – FOREVER.


As we look forward to a new year, it’s important to look back and remember what’s worth fighting for. Our hunting heritage, healthy habitat, and public lands cannot be taken for granted – in fact, they need to be bolstered with the support of people like you.

That’s why we’re asking you to make a critical and timely tax-deductible donation to Pheasants Forever and continue adding your voice to our call for healthy habitat, clean water, and abundant wildlife