Rose Creek family preserves wildlife

Published 9:55 am Tuesday, September 6, 2011

When people go beyond the norm of conservation, they don’t always go unnoticed.

For the first year, the Mower Soil and Water Conservation District recognized one area family for its extra efforts to conserve not only the environment, but particularly the wildlife within it. Mower SWCD chose Brian Landherr and his family to be the 2011 Outstanding Wildlife Conservationists. Their home property near Rose Creek has slew of cover and food for many of Minnesota’s species. Though others have woods and grasslands on their properties, the Landherrs have committed much of their land to preserving wildlife — permanently.

“He’s really taken an active approach to it,” said Cedar River Watershed District Technician Justin Hanson.

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Hanson and other CRWD staff, who also work on behalf of Mower SWCD, noticed through documents in their office that the Landherrs have a lot of acreage enrolled in state environmental programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM). CRP pays landowners to set aside grassland in 10- to 15-year increments. RIM is similar, except it’s permanent. Once landowners enroll land in RIM, they can’t reverse it.

The Landherrs’ longevity within these programs further pleases SWCD members, along with something else: Brian is a farmer, with several hundred acres of tillable land. While some farmers have given up on CRP and RIM because the payments aren’t worth what they used to be, Brian has continued his efforts.

“He’s just not doing it for the money; he’s doing it because it’s something he really believes in,” Hanson said.

Hanson added, “A lot of guys will get into the program just because they’re compensated for it, and then they kind of walk away.”

But with the Landherrs, that’s not the case. They maintain about 100 acres of woods and riparian area with trails, as well. They have planted more than 1,300 trees, created wetlands, ponds and maintained food plots for animals. Brian is an active member of both Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation. His wife, Wendy, and his sons, James and Jared, all enjoy the land for its hunting, fishing and trail-riding opportunities. Brian especially appreciates the increase in wildlife from when he was a kid.

He said, “When I was a kid growing up, if you would have told me I would shoot a turkey on my own land or my kids would shoot a turkey, I would have said, ‘you’re nuts.’”

Now, the Landherrs have turkeys, deer and several other species nesting on their property. Brian said it’s important that others take advantage of the programs that are still out there, whether they are farmers or wildlife enthusiasts. CRP and RIM can’t contend with today’s grain prices, and Brian thinks more acres will continuously become cropland. But he still thinks its important to preserve what’s left and even develop more for wildlife.

“If you enjoy hunting or you enjoy seeing wildlife, go out and develop it for wildlife,” Brian said.