NWTF Uplands: Come Join the Adventure
We live in a unique time in the history of American wildlife management, which is both encouraging and challenging. It's encouraging because wild turkeys, once eliminated from much of their original range, have been restored to almost all suitable habitat across the United States.
Our current economic climate challenges both captains of industry and private citizens to make tough choices regarding how to allocate their resources. While the NWTF can't do much to address the economic plight of the country, we can continue to provide top-notch service to our members and focus our efforts on our mission of conserving wildlife habitat and preserving our hunting heritage.
The NWTF Upland Program is a new effort to bring our habitat mission to the forefront. During the last four decades as wild turkey populations increased, northern bobwhite quail, American woodcock and ruffed grouse populations decreased. The declines are due to loss of quality native young forests, shrubland and grassland habitat over much of the country.
The NWTF Upland Program focuses on improving habitat for upland wildlife, including wild turkeys, and also can revitalize the passion of some of our members who may be looking for a new challenge.
The Covered Bridge Chapter in southeastern Maine is one of the state's original NWTF chapters dating back to the mid 1970s. Recently, the chapter fell on hard times as Maine's economy - largely based on the timber and outdoor recreation industry - was particularly hard hit by the economic downturn.
In danger of losing its NWTF Chapter Charter, the Covered Bridge Chapter voted in 2010 to reorganize under the new NWTF Upland Gamebird Chapter program as the Covered Bridge Upland Chapter and has now successfully hosted several habitat seminars and banquets.
There is potential for tremendous growth for chapters that want to reorganize under the new NWTF Upland Program - and potential for new chapters to form. In Maine there are roughly 16,000 turkey hunters. The Maine Division of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife estimates there are 40,000 ruffed grouse and American woodcock hunters who call Maine home.
Time will tell if expanding our focus will strengthen the NWTF, but for one chapter in Maine the move is paying dividends.
If you would like to start a NWTF chapter that focuses on upland wildlife, contact an NWTF regional biologist or regional director in your state. Locate NWTF field staff members in your state (http://www.nwtf.org/in_your_state/) and get started today!