Pheasants Forever Helps to Develop
"Michigan Pheasant Recovery Initiative"
Ambitious effort calls for large-scale habitat improvement to double Michigan's pheasant harvest
Michigan wants to affect pheasant habitat across 2 million acres to provide better pheasant hunting and small game opportunity.
Lansing, Mich. - November 17 -
Pheasants Forever, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) and other partners have developed a new Pheasant Recovery Initiative aimed at restoring Michigan's pheasant hunting heritage.
Three 3-county areas are initially targeted by the initiative for pheasant habitat improvement, including Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties; Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties; and Gratiot, Saginaw and Clinton counties. Geographic Information Survey (GIS) was used to identify priority areas in the state based on the potential to positively impact pheasant numbers. Factors in developing priority areas include: an open agricultural landscape, less forest and abundance of lands enrolled in federal Farm Bill conservation programs (such as the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP). The plan calls for identifying 10,000-acre areas where landowners are interested in resurrecting pheasant hunting. Once identified, the DNRE will study the habitat and work with partners and landowners on habitat restoration.
"There are more than 50,000 hunters who pursue pheasants annually in Michigan, and we can do better at meeting their demand for opportunity," says Mike Parker, Pheasants Forever's Regional Wildlife Biologist in the state, "It's a given that when you have quality and quantity habitat, you have pheasants. Revitalizing habitat - nesting cover, escape cover and food and winter cover - is the key to revitalizing pheasant hunting in Michigan." The goal of the plan is to double Michigan's current pheasant harvest. The plan will also have a tremendous impact on hunter retention and recruitment in the state.
The key difference between past efforts and the new Pheasant Recovery Initiative, Parker says, is the broad landscape scale. "Previous efforts have been successful on smaller scales, improving 40 acres for a landowner here, and 40 acres for a landowner there," Parker said, "But to maximize pheasant hunting, we need to broaden the focus." Parker says the goal will be to restore pheasant habitat on 15 to 30 percent of the landscape within the Pheasant Recovery Areas, utilizing state land where possible. The long-range objective is to have 200 or so 10,000 acre Pheasant Recovery Areas in the state, or 2 million acres in the program.
Other partners developing the Pheasant Recovery Initiative in Michigan include Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Michigan Department of Agriculture.
For participating Pheasant Recovery Area coalitions, the DNRE staff will provide assistance on habitat prescriptions, project partners will aid in securing seed for grass plantings and federal resources may be leveraged to provide financial incentives for participating landowners. Also, for land that meets habitat restoration objectives, the DNRE may provide seed and /or materials for plantings.
This winter, Pheasants Forever, DNRE staff and project partners will be hosting landowner workshops to discuss the Pheasant Recovery Initiative. To get involved in the program and for more details, landowners may also contact Al Stewart, DNRE Upland Game Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Mark Sargent, DNRE Private Lands Coordinator, at email@example.com.
Michigan is home to 36 Pheasants Forever chapters and more than 7,800 Pheasants Forever members. For more information about Pheasants Forever in the state, contact Mike Parker at (517) 896-4178 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
There were two land owner workshops held in February and early March
The 3 hour workshops focussed on:
What is the program, the nuts and bolts and how you can get involved.
Michigan DNR wildlife biologist, Mike Parker was there along with the Pheasants Forver Regional Reps. and the other partners in the program to explain what the program is, in greater detail.
The Mid-Point Accomplishments Report Update Link