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04/28/2011

NWTF, USDA Forest Service Reach First Stewardship Agreement in the Cherokee National Forest


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A history making project to restore and enhance wildlife habitat is underway in the Cherokee National Forest in eastern Tennessee.

The Hogback Mountain Restoration Stewardship Project is the first stewardship agreement between the National Wild Turkey Federation and the U.S. Forest Service in the Cherokee National Forest. As part of the project, land management experts will thin trees on 140 acres in the Ocoee Ranger District.

The resulting open forest will promote the development of native grasses and shrubs. These changes will improve habitat for wild turkeys, deer, ruffed grouse, the locally rare golden winged warbler, which is under consideration for placement on the federal threatened and endangered species list, and a multitude of other game and non-game species.

The improvements also will increase opportunities for hunters, hikers, birdwatchers and anyone else who utilizes the national forest.

Clearing timber from the land will remove undesirable species of trees, and the revenue generated through the timber sale will help defer the cost of the project. Following the commercial thinning by a timber contractor, the Forest Service will conduct prescribed burns to decrease the chance of wildfires and to encourage establishment and growth of vegetation desirable to wildlife.

The NWTF is the leader in upland wildlife habitat conservation in North America. A nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the wild turkey and preserving our hunting heritage, the NWTF and its volunteers work closely with state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies and other partners.

Through these dynamic partnerships, the NWTF and its members helped restore wild turkey populations throughout North America, spending more than $331 million to conserve nearly 16 million acres of habitat. Wild turkeys and hundreds of other species of upland wildlife, including quail, deer, grouse, pheasant and songbirds, benefit from this improved habitat.

Other partners involved in the Hogback Mountain Restoration Stewardship Project include the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Partners of the Cherokee National Forest, and the University of Tennessee.

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