The “Grasslands Act Panel” will begin at 11:00 a.m., March 12, on the Habitat Stage within the CHI Health Center
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s president and CEO, Howard Vincent, will be joined by the chief executives of some of the nation’s leading conservation organizations at the 2022 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic to discuss a path forward for the North American Grasslands Conservation Act.
The North American Grasslands Conservation Act would establish federal legislation designed to provide landowners with voluntary, flexible economic incentives and opportunities to improve and conserve disappearing grasslands, sage brush, prairies and savannas. Over 73 percent of America’s tallgrass, mixed grass and shortgrass prairies have vanished, along with their ecological benefits and many iconic species. Total grassland bird populations have declined by more than 40 percent since 1966 and some species, like the lesser prairie chicken, teeter at the edge of extinction. Species that had been economically significant throughout American history like the bobwhite quail have seen declines of nearly 85 percent in the last half century.
Alongside Vincent on the panel will be Shaun Grassel, President of the Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance and a wildlife biologist for the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA), Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) and Ted Koch, the executive director of the North American Grouse Partnership (NAGP). MeatEater’s Ryan Callaghan will moderate the panel — Callaghan is MeatEater’s Director of Conservation, host of the Cal’s Week in Review podcast and a longtime advocate for the creation of the Grasslands Act.
The idea borrows many of its core principles from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), which has been widely successful in helping conserve America’s wetlands since its introduction in 1989. In the 32 years since, NAWCA has contributed to the conservation of nearly 30 million acres of habitat across North America.
Conservation organizations across the country, including Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, National Wildlife Federation, North American Grouse Partnership, World Wildlife Fund, Izaak Walton League of America, Izaak Walton League of America, Wildlife Mississippi, National Deer Association, Land Trust Alliance, Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, American Bird Conservancy and the Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance have all been advocating for this effort for some time, though no legislation has been introduced as of yet. The panel will discuss the future of the idea and its potential impact on habitat, bird numbers, ranching communities and the overall health of grassland ecosystems nationwide.
The 2022 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic will take place at CHI Health Center in Omaha on March 11-13. Tickets and more information can be found at: PheasantFest.org.