Habitat & Conservation  |  12/27/2021

Partnership Improves Wildlife Habitat and Program Delivery

Jared King stands in a field enrolled in a USDA conservation easement planted to native vegetation. Photo by Sunny Schroeder.

By Marina Osier, Kansas State Coordinator

Fewer trees on the landscape, more smoke in the air and more native vegetation on the ground makes for better habitat for pheasants, quail, prairie chickens and other grassland wildlife in Kansas.

Pheasants Forever in Kansas has been working to increase efforts on private lands by putting positions on the ground to do this work. The Kansas Private Lands Habitat Specialist partnership with Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has seen great success in the first three years.

This new partnership was launched in 2018 and originally brought three Private Lands Habitat Specialists on board in focal regions across the state. Jared King works in the Playa Landscape in southwest Kansas where he has been key to seeding playa buffers for SAFE CRP and enhancing tree removal efforts in the region. Across the state in the Neosho River area of southeastern Kansas, Logan Cares has provided a huge lift for our partners and landowners by completing much needed tree removal on older WRPs in the area. Davis Ostermeyer has worked on extensive tree removal in the Smoky Hills of the west-central region, where greater prairie chickens benefit from restoration efforts. The first three positions have been so successful in their habitat restoration efforts that a fourth was recently brought on in the southern Flint Hills.

The goal of this partnership is to improve wildlife habitat on private lands by helping close the loop between technical assistance provided by biologists and getting the work done on the ground. This is where the Habitat Specialists come in. They jump in tractors and use equipment to clear trees, plant habitat, assist on prescribed burns and more.

Lucas Kramer, regional supervisor with KDWP, notes that this partnership has allowed the KDWP biologists and Pheasants Forever Habitat Specialists to build more meaningful relationships with landowners. These relationships have helped increase landowner participation in conservation programs, and notably, the Walk-In Hunting Access (WIHA) program. In fact, over 5,600 acres have been treated by the Private Lands Habitat Specialists; notably, 5,300 of those acres are now enrolled in the WIHA program.

We are grateful for our strong partnership with KDWP that helps improve and enhance wildlife habitat on both public and private lands across the state.

This story originally appeared in the 2022 Winter 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!