t was inevitable that marshes would be drained we say to ourselves.
It was inevitable that ditches would be burned.
It was inevitable that fields would be plowed each fall leaving no winter cover for upland birds.
And because it was inevitable
It was now tolerable.”
Those were the words of Dennis Anderson written in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press & Dispatch on March 7, 1982. From that article, Pheasants Forever began to coalesce.
A year later, on April 15, 1983, Pheasants Forever held its first banquet. The event was organized to celebrate the passage of the bill creating Minnesota’s Pheasant Habitat Stamp and to help the fledgling conservation group raise operating funds. Famed outdoor writer Jimmy Robinson and local businessman Robert Naegele, Sr. cut $1,000 checks, becoming the organization’s first Life Members.
According to our records, the event drew 800 supporters. In my decade of employment at Pheasants Forever, I’ve talked to thousands who claim being part of the historic event. That first Pheasants Forever banquet parallels Woodstock in that an entire generation claims to have been in attendance. In spirit, I have no doubt every Minnesota pheasant hunter was there.
Later this month, on April 20th, a new group of volunteers will hold a Ramsey County Pheasants Forever Chapter banquet at the Dellwood Hills Golf Club east of White Bear Lake. Anderson, who served as editor of the Pheasants Forever magazine as well as a longtime national board member for the organization, will be the guest speaker at this event.
As I examine Mr. Anderson’s words above, I recognize there will be cynics who complain “Pheasants Forever hasn’t stopped the habitat loss that began decades ago; just look at all the acres lost last autumn.” I also know there are others who recognize the “good old days” of 2007, 2008 and 2009 when pheasant harvests were reaching marks not experienced since the 1960s were partly the result of Pheasants Forever working with USDA, farmers and other partners to put nearly 40 million acres of CRP habitat on the ground.
But mostly, I believe Mr. Anderson understood a simple principle before most others – conservation will never be a game in which you win or lose. For eternity, it will be a constant battle. Pheasants Forever’s duty is to evolve and make a difference no matter what the conditions.
And the battle rages on the landscape these days. CRP acres are leaving the program to be burned and plowed by the millions. Habitat is hemorrhaging everywhere. The success of Pheasants Forever is dependent on volunteers. Now more than ever, we need you.
So on April 20th, a new group of volunteers will take up the flag of conservation in Ramsey County. Please join the cause and be a part of history, tickets are available for purchase by following THIS LINK. For readers outside the Twin Cities, please consider getting involved with your own local chapter of Pheasants Forever through THIS LINK.
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.