NWTF and USDA Forest Service Partner to Conserve Acreage on Ottawa National Forest

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — Wildlife and hunters will directly benefit from habitat work recently completed by the USDA Forest Service and the National Wild Turkey Federation on the Ottawa National Forest.

Collaborating through a stewardship agreement, the Forest Service and NWTF partnered to improve more than 400 acres of upland wildlife habitat by removing trees and brush encroaching 23 wildlife openings and 41 miles of Hunter Walking Trails.  This work generates critical habitat for animals that use open spaces and improves access for hunters.

“Stewardship Agreements allow the Forest Service and our partners to use locally-generated timber sale dollars to fund projects on national forest lands that meet certain restoration criteria,” said Ottawa National Forest Stewardship Coordinator Victoria Hahka.

In this case, the NWTF managed 317 acres of timber harvest. Proceeds from the timber sale were then used to prepare the sites for reforestation, close some dead-end roads and perform needed habitat and access projects.

The stewardship agreement helped the Ottawa National Forest achieve their land management goals, contributed to the improvement of hundreds of acres of wildlife habitat and met local and rural community needs. The NWTF and Forest Service partnered with local contractors for every aspect of the three-year project.

“Stewardship agreements like this one have provided funds for wildlife habitat work that is an order of magnitude higher than anything I’ve seen in my 15 years with the forest service,” Ottawa biologist Brian Bogaczyk said. “We completed more work under this agreement than we could have ever done on our own.”

These projects also help the NWTF achieve their Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative goals of improving or enhancing 4 million acres of upland habitat, opening 500,000 acres to public hunting and outdoor recreation and creating 1.5 million hunters over the 10-year term of the program.

The Ruffed Grouse Society and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources also contributed funding to the project, because of its value to creating young forests and to the region’s hunters. NWTF Regional Biologist Rick Horton said, “This agreement was a wonderful way to keep funds from a timber sale on the Ottawa to restore habitat for wild turkeys, deer, bear, ruffed grouse, American woodcock and an array of associated species.”

“Overall this has been a tremendously successful endeavor for both the NWTF and the Ottawa” said Forest Supervisor Linda Jackson. “We are very appreciative of NWTF’s willingness to try the agreement process with us and provide the support to accomplish a backlog of restoration work on the ground.”

About Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.
The NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to give the NWTF more energy and purpose than ever. Through this national initiative, the NWTF has committed to raising $1.2 billion to conserve or enhance more than 4 million acres of essential upland wildlife habitat, create at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting, shooting and outdoor enjoyment. Without hunters, there will be no wildlife or habitat. The NWTF is determined to Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.

Photo caption: An old root cellar now owned and managed by the Ottawa National Forest. The site is an important snake hibernaculum that was being overgrown by trees and invasive plants. This site and many other important habitats were improved under this Agreement.  Photo credit Scott Pearson

For more information, contact Peter Muller at (803) 637-7698.

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