With a tagline of “The Habitat Organization” Pheasants Forever works with landowners and partners across the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture to protect critical grassland and wetland habitats that benefit a wide variety of migratory and resident wildlife including waterfowl and pheasants. Throughout the PPJV, when one does wetland and grassland conservation, the focal species within the region all benefit.
Pheasants Forever formed in 1982 amid concerns for pheasants and their habitat. With a grassroots model that empowers local people to impact habitat, this national organization has grown to 140,000 members in 700 chapters across the nation to protect, restore, & enhance habitat. Pheasants Forever is highly engaged in conservation policy, particularly Farm Bill conservation programs, and we actively supported the following policy positions with many of our partners in the PPJV:
- Conservation Compliance connected to crop insurance
- National Sodsaver to protect our country’s last remaining native prairies
- A Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with a minimum 25 million-acre baseline
- A 5-year Farm Bill
We are proud to have worked with a number of partners to secure these important provisions, or variations thereof, in the 2014 Farm Bill. Beyond national policy efforts, Pheasants Forever continues to do outstanding work in the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture. Here’s a look at Pheasants Forever’s high-level habitat work in these states:
Iowa Pheasants Forever recently launched a statewide partnership with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to reverse Iowa’s pheasant and quail population declines. Pheasants Forever chapters, PF and DNR employees and private landowners will utilize a blend of public and private land initiatives to create the quality habitat necessary to accelerate population rebounds during times of ideal weather conditions and mitigate significant population declines during times of habitat loss and severe weather conditions. Pheasants Forever has active chapters in all PPJV counties working to deliver habitat protection, restoration and enhancement to the remaining complexes of quality grasslands and wetlands. Our Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist program boasts five partnership biologists working in the PPJV as well as two full-time habitat specialists and several field leadership positions.
Five years ago, Minnesotans went to the polls and took a bold action and approved a landmark conservation initiative known as the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. During the past five years, the amendment has been fulfilling its promise of creating lasting investments in the outdoors, namely healthier habitat. Pheasants Forever has been a primary recipient of grant funding and is working with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to accelerate the strategic expansion of Waterfowl Production Areas and Wildlife Management Areas. These efforts expand the public habitat base in the Prairie Pothole Region of western and southwestern Minnesota and complement other efforts of Farm Bill conservation programs (e.g. CRP, WRP, etc.) as well as the state Reinvest in Minnesota Conservation (RIM) easement program. Pheasants Forever is one of the founders and supporters of the Minnesota Farm Bill Assistance Partnership that puts biologist/technician capacity in local USDA service centers to provide conservation technical assistance to farmers and private landowners. Pheasants Forever currently hosts 14 biologist positions across the PPJV of Minnesota.
North Dakota has a long and proud history of hunting, fishing, birding and other outdoor recreation, but escalating development and other changes are threatening the state’s clean water and natural places for people and wildlife. Pheasants Forever is part of a coalition supporting North Dakota Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment would dedicate a small portion of the state’s existing oil and gas extraction taxes to protect North Dakota’s clean water and lands for future generations, primarily through escalated grassland and wetland protection. Pheasants Forever and its partners at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, USDA-NRCS and the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust also have worked together in the last four-plus years to put five partnership biologists on the ground (three in the PPJV) to accelerate enrollment into Farm Bill conservation programs (e.g. CRP, EQIP, WRP, etc.) . Pheasants Forever is also working with many partners to deliver the newly created Outdoor Heritage Fund and ensure that quality upland and wetland habitat restoration and enhancement result.
In December 2013, Pheasants Forever joined with South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard in hosting a Pheasant Habitat Summit. The Governor identified the creation of a task force, or “work group” which will be his next step in addressing upland habitat concerns in South Dakota. The work group will include hunters and landowners and potentially lawmakers. This unprecedented summit was taken as a result of habitat loss and a declining pheasant population in what’s known as the nation’s “Pheasant Capital.” Pheasants Forever works with farmers and ranchers to keep grassland and wetland habitats on the ground and has been active with NAWCA partnerships, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist programs, land protection, and efforts to recruit and retain hunter-conservationists. Pheasants Forever has partnerships with South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks, USDA-NRCS, USFWS, and others in protecting and restoring working lands systems that include grassland and wetland resources.
For more information contact Matt Holland, Pheasant Forever’s Director of Grant Development.