Thanks to this initiative, more scenes like this will be taking place across southwestern Iowa this hunting season and in seasons to come.
By Jamie Cook, former Iowa State Coordinator
Aldo Leopold, Iowa native and father of American conservation, wrote: “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
Conventional thinking suggests that applying conservation practices to farmland automatically diminishes economic returns. In Iowa, Pheasants Forever is working to change that mindset. We have learned that creating high quality wildlife habitat for public use can generate tourism revenue dollars that help small communities to thrive.
When we couple these actions, it is not only the wildlife, soil and water that are enhanced; it is the people, the businesses and the communities we call home that truly profit.
Since 2017, the Southwest Communities for Pheasants and Farming Initiative has been working with growers, businesses, the tourism industry and local Pheasants Forever chapters to create areas where farm profitability, wildlife habitat, hunting access and their combined economic benefits are felt by small towns in southwestern Iowa.
Since its start, over 1000 acres of new walk-in hunting access has been created, training for tourism professionals has been supplied, and farmers have been able to increase their profits on the family farm. The positive implications of this cannot be understated. We truly have a chance to realize Leopold’s vision about the connection between land and community by working together with businesses, chapters and our agency partners.
This story originally appeared in the 2021 Fall 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 Pheasants Forever member today!