Whether it’s improving winter food sources, acquiring private land to increase public hunting opportunities or using revenue from innovative hunting license sales to improve habitat, a key to completing successful projects for wildlife and hunters throughout the America’s Big Six conservation regions is forging solid relationships.
Greg Abbott (left-right), Utah NWTF State Board member; Terry Holsclaw, USDA Forest Service representative; Dave Worwood, Utah NWTF State Chapter president; and Kendall Bagley, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologist and Utah NWTF State Board member
Examples in Michigan, Alabama and Utah show government agencies, private landowners, conservation groups and grassroots volunteers coming together to support healthy wildlife populations and increase hunting opportunities. This is the power of partnerships and how the NWTF is making strides to Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. across America.
MICHIGAN — AMERICA’S CROSSROADS
The Northern Michigan Mast, Cover and Trails Enhancement Project is a $110,000 effort impacting more than 550 acres of state forest lands, where hard- and soft-mast producing shrubs and trees are being improved.
NWTF regional biologist Ryan Boyer says, “[The project] enhancements will provide food during critical winter months, which [should] increase survival and result in more birds in better condition.”
Partners include the Ruffed Grouse Society, American Woodcock Society and Whitetails Unlimited.
Michigan DNR’s State Wildlife Habitat Grant Program awarded NWTF an additional $267,871 for work in 2017 and 2018. Project costs are estimated at $380,000 and are designed to enhance and restore more than 1,000 acres of oak forests, oak savannas and wildlife openings on public hunting lands in six counties in southwest and northern Michigan. Partners include the Michigan DNR, USDA Forest Service and the Michigan Army National Guard.
ALABAMA — AMERICA’S SOUTHERN PINEY WOODS/AMERICA’S MID-SOUTH REBIRTH
The NWTF recently partnered with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in land acquisitions to expand wildlife habitat and public hunting access for sportsmen and women.
The projects include purchases of nearly 8,000 acres in three locations and increase acreage in these existing wildlife management areas:
- 5,725 acres — Geneva State Forest Wildlife Management Area;
- 1,958 acres — Lowndes County WMA; and
- 303 acres — Autauga County WMA
Alabama NWTF State Chapter funded the acquisitions through a chapter-managed account designated solely for land acquisitions.
UTAH — AMERICA’S WESTERN WILDLANDS
A Utah program launched in the 1980s to increase funding for bighorn sheep management and conservation has expanded to benefit bear, desert and Rocky Mountain sheep, bison, cougar, deer, elk, moose, mountain goats, pronghorn and wild turkeys.
The Conservation Permit Program is funded by the promotion and sale of specific hunting tags by conservation organizations at fundraising banquets and events. For each hunting tag sold, 10 percent stays with the conservation organization to cover administrative costs, 30 percent returns to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and 60 percent is available to the conservation organization that sold the tag to fund wildlife habitat projects in Utah. The Utah NWTF State Chapter is one of seven conservation groups involved in the program.
During the first 10 years of the NWTF’s involvement, the chapter and NWTF staff have:
- contributed about $482,000 to the project;
- helped fund 136 projects; and
- conserved or enhanced habitat on about 97,000 acres