Landowner Help Desk Drives Habitat Action


Pheasant Fest offers free and expert input to landowners planning wildlife habitat projects 

By Tom Carpenter

Whether they’re managing 10 acres or 10,000, landowners in pheasant and quail country have a free resource available at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic February 16 -18 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“This is the 14th year of having a Landowner Help Desk at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic,” says Ron Leathers, B.S. Wildlife Biology, M.S. Wildlife Science, and Director of Public Finance for both organizations. “The concept remains the same. People have land and want to improve it for wildlife. We help. Pheasants or quail are often the focus, but it’s often just wildlife in general.”


“We have the talent base right there, helping landowners kick off their projects and make plans,” he says. “Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Farm Bill Biologists staff the area and consult. If a landowner can find their property on Google Maps, we start right there with a GIS mapping tool, taking a look at the property and listening to the landowner’s goals. South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks biologists will be right there to talk about habitat programs available.”

“And it’s important to note that no matter where the property, we can help,” adds Leathers. “It’s not just for South Dakota landowners,” he points out.

And there’s more than consulting going on. “Education and outreach are important too at the Help Desk,” says Leathers. “Folks should stop by and learn too.”


“We’ll have a rainfall simulator there,” says Leathers. “Using different soil samples, we can show what happens to rainfall in different environments. You want moisture to infiltrate the soil and be retained, but not flow all the way through. Just running off is bad too. The simulator shows how properly managed cropland and grassland features healthy soil that retains moisture.”


Soil health is the key to good crop productivity, as well as healthy stands of grass that benefit wildlife. A hands-on demo will illustrate the principles of healthy, functioning and stable soil to landowners, spurring discussion with biologists on soil health improvement tools such as reduced tillage, no-till, advanced nutrient management and cover crops.


Any landowner with a few acres, a few hundred or a few thousand … and an interest in managing that land better for wildlife … needs to come to National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, February 16-18 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. The Landowner Help Desk is open all three days during show hours (12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Saturday, and 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Sunday).

Tom Carpenter is Digital Content Manager for Pheasants Forever.