Habitat & Conservation  |  06/20/2024

Chapter Spotlight: Ashland County Pheasants Forever

The Ashland County Chapter of Pheasants Forever in Ohio was recently acknowledged by the Ohio Division of Wildlife for their contribution toward establishing upland habitat at Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area. Photo Credit: Ashland County Pheasants Forever.

PF on the Landscape: Ashland County Pheasants Forever Impacts Northeastern Ohio

By Abby-Gayle Prieur

The Ashland County Pheasants Forever Chapter in Ohio is a stellar example of how being a known source for conservation effort in the community can make a real impact.

In its 31-year history, the Ashland chapter has undoubtedly advanced the Pheasants Forever mission in an area where wild birds and native grasslands are relatively hard to come by. The chapter is adept at hosting events to introduce fellow community members to upland habitat and hunting heritage. Each year, they host a youth pheasant hunt and a veteran’s appreciation day, participate in Kid’s Day attended by 200-400 children, and plan an annual banquet packed wall-to-wall with people and prizes.

And the chapter is particularly skilled at leveraging partnerships with other conservation organizations to put habitat on the ground.

The Ashland chapter maintains close ties to the Ashland County Park District, with which they have partnered on land acquisitions, habitat restoration and management projects, and educational events. Additionally, Northeast Ohio American Woodcock Society, Ohio Ruffed Grouse Society, Whitetails Unlimited, Ohio Division of Forestry, and Ohio Division of Wildlife have all coordinated with the chapter to fund or install habitat projects.

Most recently, the chapter contributed toward habitat restoration on a new parcel acquired by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

The stars began to align when the chapter received a $10,000 grant from Cargill, Inc. earmarked for use on habitat projects. Not long after the grant was received, local staff from the Ohio Division of Wildlife approached the chapter regarding habitat restoration needs for a 130-acre tract of new land. Once restored, the parcel would be added to over 1,500 acres of existing habitat in the Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area complex.

restored tract
The Asland County Chapter used a $10,000 grant from Cargill, Inc., and chapter funds, to help the Ohio Division of Wildlife restore a 130-acre tract to join the existing 1,500 acres of habitat in the Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area complex. The chapter jumped at the chance to provide materials for preparing and planting the cropland acres to native grass that supports a variety of upland wildlife and is open to hunting. Another project at Funk Bottoms is in the works.

The parcel was acquired because of its potential for adding wetland habitat to the area. But there were also upland acres, currently in row crops, that needed to be converted to wildlife habitat. The chapter jumped at the chance to provide materials for preparing and planting the cropland acres to native grass.

The native grass seed was planted in 2022, and the restored acreage now provides habitat for upland game. The parcel was recently opened to the public, and deer and rabbit hunters have been seen walking the fields. The vegetation also prevents sediment and nutrients from entering nearby waterbodies during rain events. This keeps waters clean for local residents, waterfowl, and other wetland wildlife.

In November 2023, the Ashland County chapter received recognition from Ohio Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker for their contribution to the Funk Bottoms habitat project.

Restoration work in the area continues. The Ashland County Chapter is once again in conversation withthestateaboutprovidingseedfor yet another newly acquired parcel in 2024. The newest tract will bring the acreage of Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area up to around 1,800 acres of publicly accessible land. Local hunters and community members will enjoy the fields restored in partnership with the Ashland County PF Chapter now and well into the future.

Abby-Gayle Prieur is a Pheasants Forever Ohio Farm Bill Biologist III

This story originally appeared in the 2024 Summer Issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and would like to be the first to read more great upland content like this, become a member today!