Reige: Pheasants Forvever provides help for the habitat

Published 5:16 pm Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The change of pheasant hunting has taken a dramatic shift in the last two decades and it can be summed up in one word — habitat. With the shift in habitat in the last 20 years the modern day pheasant hunter must shift also.

A pheasant needs a variety of cover in order to survive. The pheasant needs overhead cover in the daylight hours and needs roosting cover (off the ground) and dense cover for warmth, during the night. If this cover is adjacent to a food source, such as corn, watch out, this is where you’ll find them. Hunt these areas in the morning and in the late afternoon. That’s when most of the birds are the most active and when they are in huntible cover.

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One of the ways that we can help the habitat is to join an organization that improves habitat. The Mower County Chapter of Pheasants Forever can and does improve habitat not only for pheasants but all types of wildlife.

Recently I contacted Sue Olson president of the Mower County Chapter of PF and she told me the following. “Our Chapter has been very active since our first banquet in 2001. Unlike most other habitat organizations, all the money we raise stays right here in Mower County, and PF helps us leverage those funds with grants, matching funds, and other programs.”

In looking at the website the following are the accomplishments of Mower County Habitat & Pheasants Forever.

As of December 2010, this Chapter has invested over $1,000,000 in 23 different projects in Mower County, including 358.5 acres of new public hunting land.

• The Mower County Chapter received the 2010 Minnesota State Conservation Excellence Award for putting $750,000 into habitat and habitat programs, and by 2006 hand already received the State Conservation Excellence Award at the $500,000 level. We will be receiving the $1,000,000 award in the near future.

• In 2004, we purchased 165 acres of farmland south of Austin, which became the Schottler Wildlife Management Area. In 2005, the restoration of the Schottler WMA was begun with our funding of highly diverse native grass and flower plantings. In 2006, we began wetland restoration on the property.

• In 2005, we purchased another 85 acres of farmland just west of Austin, and began the restoration with native grass planting. In the fall of 2006, we began restoration of the wetlands by adding 2 acres of shallow pond excavation. The ponds are holding water, and this property looks very promising. We transferred the title to the US Fish & Wildlife Service in 2008 and it was named Lost Lake Waterfowl Production Area in 2009. In May 2010, we purchased a 13-acre extension to increase the size of the WPA on the east end.

• In December 2010, we completed the purchase of a 92 acre parcel that extends the existing 304 acre (now 396 acres) Ramsey Mill Pond Wildlife Management Area to the west, along the Cedar River, upstream from Austin. This WMA is a mix of wetlands, upland woods, and established native prairie. The acquisition includes 28 acres of cropland that will be restored to natural habitat.

• In the summer and fall of 2010, we partnered with the SE MN Deerhunters Association chapter, the local Izaac Walton League, and the local Cedar River Longbeards NWTF chapter to apply for a grant. The grant was accepted in November 2010 and we will have funding to expand the existing 37 acre Schwerin Creek Wildlife Management Area (east of Austin) and nearly double its size. Funding will be provided by the 4 local habitat organizations, plus the Conservation Partners Legacy funding.

• We gave three $500 scholarships to graduating Mower County seniors in 2010. See the Education tab for details.

• We have also worked with Soil & Water to purchase equipment and to assist with 700 acres of CRP buffer strip sign-ups.

• We support state and federal lobbying efforts to improve and develop habitat programs.

• We allocate 10% of our Chapter’s funds to private landowner habitat projects (applications available from Chapter Officers).

• We assist in development of food plots.

• We have provided financial support for the J.C. Hormel Nature Center and Whittier Park habitat development project.

• We have distributed more than 25 pheasant feeders during the past four years.

Pheasants Forever’s members are truly passionate about conservation and creating, preserving and restoring habitat that benefits pheasants, quail and other wildlife. That’s why Pheasants Forever provides the most efficient conservation model of any organization. PF’s unique model empowers local chapters with the responsibility to determine how 100 percent of their locally-raised conservation funds will be spent. Whether it’s through improving habitat, informing the public about land management or educating future generations of hunting enthusiasts, conservation is the underlying principle in all we do at the grassroots level of our chapters all the way to Washington, D.C. when we fight for strong conservation policy.

Creating, restoring and maintaining habitat is a constant battle. We invite you to join Pheasants Forever in our quest to ensure a country rich in natural resources and long on people willing to work to preserve them. After all, natural resources are our greatest resources.

This coming Saturday, February 26 is the Eleventh Anniversary Banquet at Austin Holiday Inn. Doors open at 5 pm, Dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at Double K Specialty of Austin until Friday and at the Holiday Inn all day on Saturday.