Top Conservation Stories
PRIVATE LAND HABITAT
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
State and Federal Policy