The Midwest is as diverse as its land use. It’s where hard working families farm, mine and log to provide the nation resources.
States in NWTF’s Crossroads region include: North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Kentucky.
America’s Midwest is as diverse as its land use. It’s where hard working families farm, mine and log to provide resources for our nation. Midwesterners cherish the recreational opportunities the land offers and build strong family legacies tied to the land. This region has also built the national reputation of having some of the highest turkey population densities and consistently produces more trophy class white-tailed deer than anywhere else in the country.
Forests in the Crossroads provide essential wildlife habitat for turkeys and many game and non-game species. However, a lack of active forest management is negatively altering forest stand composition and structure. The forests that echoed with gobbles in the spring and built the “land of the giants” are rapidly converting to something much less productive. The average Crossroads forest is overstocked, allowing shade tolerant natives like maple, beach, elm and nonnatives like honeysuckle and buckthorn to become dominant in the understory and midstory. These will become our future forests in the absence of active forest management.
Less than 1 percent of our country’s native tall grass prairies are still intact. This is obvious all throughout the Crossroads region where wildlife-rich prairies once dominated the landscape have been reduced from their former glory.
Additionally, intensive agriculture and development has drastically impacted the quality and quantity of the area’s creeks and rivers. Proper management of these riparian ribbons of life is critical for filtering agricultural nutrients, preventing erosion and providing crucial wildlife habitat.
We must be proactive to restore and enhance these remaining areas for the benefit of wildlife and outdoors enthusiasts.
Luckily, NWTF volunteers, wildlife biologists, foresters and partners have joined forces to actively manage forests and grasslands for the betterment of wildlife and the people who enjoy them. Habitat management such as timber harvests, forest thinnings and prescribed fires are working to keep our Crossroads healthy.
Since NWTF’s Crossroads is dominated by private land (over 90%), working on private land is essential to be effective at influencing habitat quality at a landscape level. One way this has been accomplished is to assist with the purchase of habitat enhancement equipment for use on private land. Hundreds of seed drills, UTV’s, sprayers, prescribed burning equipment, disks and more have been purchased and donated to state or federal agencies to be loaned out for use by private landowners.
Regional projects include the work NWTF state chapters fund through the NWTF Super Fund. Super Fund dollars are raised by NWTF local chapters to benefit projects in their respective states. Projects like this include creating wildlife openings on WMAs or creating early successional habitat in national forests, among a myriad of others.
The NWTF has created a handful of landscape-level initiatives across the country, too, that address specific issues of concern and incorporate an array of traditional and nontraditional partners, agencies and interested parties. These groups combine resources, funding and expertise that ultimately benefits the wildlife, forests, private lands and wetlands on an entire landscape.
NWTF’s Crossroads is involved in multiple landscape-scale initiatives, including the National Forestry Initiative, Northern Plains Riparian Initiative, White Oak Initiative, and the forthcoming Waterways for Wildlife Initiative.