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Answering the Call

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever announced a historic effort in February to protect and conserve North America’s upland habitats by launching its first comprehensive, $500 million Call of the Uplands® National Campaign. The bold plan encompasses habitat conservation, education & outreach, and national advocacy strategies to conserve 9 million acres, engage 1.5 million outdoor participants, and enact landscape-level national policy for wildlife and rural communities.

In the last decade, numerous studies both nationally and in the Prairie Pothole Region have documented grassland habitat decline and fragmentation, with more than 53 million acres of grasslands gone. These catastrophic habitat losses have contributed to precipitous population declines for pheasants (e.g. > 50 percent decline in harvest and population indices in Iowa) and other grassland bird species (-40 percent decline) since 1966. “Conversion of grasslands have quickly transformed this important ecosystem into the Amazon rainforest in our backyard; the unprecedented number of acres and biodiversity wiped from the landscape over a relatively short period have created a pivotal moment for wildlife, hunters, conservationists, farmers, and all Americans interested in a bright future filled with abundant natural resources,” stated Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “Through the work we do, we have a window in time to flip the script before it’s too late - Call of the Uplands is the catalyst for this change.”

The campaign is good news for those in the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture, as the campaign goal is to amplify the delivery of habitat restoration, enhancement, and protection. The PPJV is home to arguably the best ring-necked pheasant range in North America, so grassland and wetland conservation efforts will have a focus in this geography. Paramount to achieving the Call of the Uplands® 9 million-acre habitat goal will be working with private landowners, providing technical assistance, and funding programs with partners that deliver on-the-ground sustainability and economic stability while also conserving wildlife habitat. The plan also focuses on making every acre count, with public and private land restoration/enhancement a goal along with the permanent protection of 75,000-acres of strategic uplands/wetland complexes. Further, the campaign aligns with recent PPJV efforts around R3 and commits to reaching 1.5 million participants to engage people in outdoor recreation, shooting sports, hunting, and habitat conservation. Another PPJV priority, advocacy, is also part of the plan with a focus on support for grassland conservation through the Farm Bill, new funding concepts like the North American Grasslands Conservation Act, and stateside issues like dedicated funding for natural resources.

To learn how you can participate in the Call of the Uplands, go to: https://www.pheasantsforever.org/calloftheuplands.

Matt Holland, Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever