Iowa: Acres Remain for Landowners Wanting to Improve Pheasant Habitat

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Time is running out for landowners in Iowa’s 46 best pheasant counties to secure funding to restore pheasant habitat in Iowa’s core pheasant range.
 
The Iowa Pheasant Recovery – State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program is for Iowa landowners who want to restore top notch pheasant habitats to their property. It is a new USDA continuous CRP practice designed to restore native grasslands and wetlands where they will be the most beneficial for ring-necked pheasants.
 
Iowa received 50,000 acres split between the 46 primary pheasant counties (37,500) and the 31 secondary pheasant counties (12,500). The 31 secondary counties enrolled all 12,500 acres before the 2014 pheasant season opened. An estimated 20,000 acres remain in the 46 primary pheasant counties.
 
“We are getting a lot of pressure from landowners in the secondary counties to release these acres so they can make offers to enroll,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
 
“Landowners in primary pheasant counties who are interested in this program shouldn’t wait to contact us because acres may be shifted to the secondary counties,” Bogenschutz said. 
 
Primary pheasant counties are Adair, Adams, Audubon, Boone, Bremer, Buena Vista, Butler, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Franklin, Greene, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Humboldt, Ida, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Keokuk, Kossuth, Lyon, Mahaska, Marshall, Muscatine, Obrien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Poweshiek, Sac, Sioux, Story, Union, Wapello, Washington, Webster, Winnebago and Wright.
 
Pheasant and other grassland birds are particularly vulnerable to harsh winters and wet springs. Restoring top quality winter and nesting/brood-rearing habitat will help pheasant populations recover and could boost annual harvest by 100,000 roosters.
 
CRP rental rates are at an all-time high in Iowa. Landowners should contact the Pheasants Forever farm bill wildlife biologist in their area or the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Bureau private lands staff to discuss eligibility and cost share assistance. A map of DNR staff contacts and a factsheet on the Iowa Pheasant Recovery program is available at www.iowadnr.gov/habitat.