Habitat & Conservation  |  05/06/2022

WATCH: More Room to Roam


Build a Wildlife Area Program adds 415-acre expansion to Big Island Wildlife Area

As we take the time to celebrate our four legged hunting partners this month, it’s also important to celebrate the habitat that allows them to do what they love. Watching our dogs work is one of the most rewarding parts of hunting, but without access to quality habitat we’d all be stuck at home being driven mad by cooped up setters, pointers and labs.

As our dogs grow up and then grow old, there’s comfort in a familiar piece of property. The same stand of swampy cattails that a puppy stumbles through dragging a check chord can hold his final rooster over a decade later.

These lands tell the stories of our dog’s lives long after they’re gone. A good retrieve here, a bad miss there. In the passing of time, land can remain a constant — and what a wonderful way to remember the creatures who bring so much joy to our lives, but never seems to be here for as long as we’d like.

Habitat is a conduit for memories, and this month we’d like to celebrate some recent projects that’ll allow public land hunters to make those memories for decades to come. The first property we’re highlighting is the 415-acre addition to the Big Island Wildlife Area in Marion County, Ohio that was purchased through the Build a Wildlife Area (BAWA) program.

The Build a Wildlife Area Program uses a unique funding mechanism utilizing state, federal and other grants, which puts 100 percent of the funds donated directly toward land acquisition projects, creating public access, conserving critical habitat for wildlife and preserving outdoor heritage traditions. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have protected over 200,000 acres nationwide through the BAWA program.

The property was owned for generations by the Mallett family, who generously worked with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever to complete the project. The Malletts farmed the ground for many decades, but had restored all of the property’s agriculture acres to native grasslands and seasonally flooded wetlands prior to selling. The Scioto River forms the northern border of the property for over 2.5 miles and across the river lies the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Big Island Wildlife Area. Big Island consists of 5,872 acres of public land habitat that holds wild pheasants, supports many other grassland bird species and provides habitat for many species of conservation concern and threatened and endangered species.


This project will provide enduring benefits to wildlife, other natural resources, and the public for generations to come, and it could not have been done without countless supporters. One of the first and strongest supporters of the project was the Ohio Division of Wildlife. They introduced Pheasants Forever to the project, agreed to help the organization manage the property and made a large financial contribution along the way. A lion’s share of the funding came from Clean Ohio, an Ohio Public Works Commission grant program that funds conservation projects across the state. Local Pheasants Forever chapters also made significant financial contributions to the project, including Hancock County Pheasants Forever, which contributed $60,000.

“We’re grateful to all of the supporters who made this project possible, and most importantly we say thanks to the Mallett family. The Mallett family’s ancestors settled in the area in the late 1700’s, and much of the family still lives there today,” said Cody Grasser, the Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Ohio state coordinator. “The Malletts have practiced good land stewardship and implemented conservation practices for decades, and were quick to recognize the need for conservation on their farm. They truly care about leaving the land better than they found it and Pheasants Forever is grateful for the opportunity to help secure an enduring conservation legacy for the Mallett family.”

Become a member or make a donation on behalf of your favorite dog breed during our Bird Dogs for Habitat campaign!

Not only do you get all the perks of celebrating your bird dog and your collective commitment to conservation, your contribution counts in the race to this year's most beloved bird dog breed. Every dollar donated equals a vote, and every week during the month of May our generous sponsors will be giving away fantastic prizes to those who participate. All contributions will support our wildlife habitat conservation mission — and the places where you and your bird dog love to roam — because good bird habitat is good bird dog habitat!