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    Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society (RGS/AWS)

    New Wildlife Biologists Hired

    The RGS/AWS is excited to announce the hiring of two new wildlife biologists. Heather Shaw is the new regional wildlife biologist for the Eastern Great Lakes Region (Michigan, Ohio and Indiana). Valerie Johnson is the first RGS/AWS forest wildlife specialist in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, a position stationed in Spooner, Wisconsin.

    Shaw and Johnson will support the RGS/AWS scientific forest management efforts to create healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife and help preserve our rich sporting traditions for future generations. In their new positions, they will work with governmental agencies, private landowners and chapters on young forest habitat projects and initiatives.

    Heather Shaw
    Heather Shaw

    “I am extremely thankful and excited to further the mission of the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society as the regional wildlife biologist for Michigan, Ohio and Indiana,” Shaw said. “I look forward to working closely with members as well as state and federal agencies to restore and maintain young forest habitat and uphold the sporting traditions upon which this organization was founded.”

    Prior to joining the RGS/AWS team, Shaw worked for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in Michigan as a wildlife biologist focusing on game species restoration ecology. She is a Michigan native who received her master’s degree from Central Michigan University studying migratory bird stopover ecology and use of forested edge habitat.

    Johnson said, “I am extremely excited to begin this new journey as the forest wildlife specialist with the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society and our partners at NRCS and the Wisconsin DNR. I very much look forward to helping landowners achieve their forest management objectives, getting to know local RGS/AWS members and building strong partnerships with my conservation colleagues throughout the region. I cannot wait to hit the ground running!”

    Valerie Johnson
    Valerie Johnson

    Johnson earned her B.S. degree in geology and watershed management from Winona State University (Minnesota) and an M.S. in forestry and forestry recreation from UW-Stevens Point. She has an extensive background in forest management, having worked as a forestry technician for the Wisconsin DNR and in various roles for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Park Service and the Illinois DNR. She currently serves as the treasurer for the Wisconsin Chapter of the Society of American Foresters.

    Shaw works and resides in Rosebush, Michigan, and can be reached at HeatherS@RuffedGrouseSociety.org. Johnson can be reached at ValerieJ@RuffedGrouseSociety.org. For more information about RGS/AWS biologists: www.RuffedGrouseSociety.org.

    National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI)

    Approval of Bobwhites for “Working Lands” Program Improves Odds of Landscape Scale Restoration

    The NBCI moved a step closer to two of its major goals for landscape restoration of wild bobwhites – reconnecting cattle and quail and reconnecting forests and quail – when the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the recent approval of two NBCI-led proposals to recognize bobwhites in the NRCS Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) program.

    When announcing approval of the projects on a Missouri farm, NRCS Chief Jason Weller said, “We were really pumped to receive two bobwhite proposals. These projects represent what’s best for America – family ownership, conservation, helping communities and partnerships.”
    “With a goal of affecting 232,000 targeted acres in 13 states by fiscal year 2018, this WLFW accomplishment may be the largest concentrated effort ever applied to reintegrating wild bobwhites into this nation’s working landscapes,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie.
    The grasslands proposal targets 150,000 acres in eight states – Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia – and will provide technical and financial assistance to landowners interested in converting pastures of exotic, endophyte-infected fescue to drought-tolerant native grasses and wildflowers, along with developing prescribed grazing plans.
    “It is estimated that as much as 85 percent of tall fescue is infected with an endophyte fungus that causes cattle a wide range of problems,” said McKenzie. “And as a cool-season grass, fescue doesn’t produce nearly as well as natives during the droughty summer months. A strategic landscape-scale mixture of native warm-season grasses and forbs that complement prevalent introduced cool-season forages will help producers, cattle, quail and other grasslands wildlife.”
    Additionally, the Center for Native Grasslands Management at the University of Tennessee has offered to provide “Train the Trainer” sessions for partner biologists and NRCS staff on establishing and managing native grasses for grazing and wildlife.
    The forestlands proposal targets 82,000 acres across six states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina and South Carolina – and will provide technical and financial assistance to landowners interested in restoring declining pine savanna habitat using native grasses, timber thinning and prescribed fire. Pine savanna is a diverse ecosystem supporting bobwhites and more than 300 other species.
    “These projects, which are very targeted for maximum impact, were coordinated by NBCI and approved by the NRCS State Conservationists in each participating state,” said McKenzie. “Numerous close partners played key roles, including the UT Center for Native Grasslands Management, the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, NRCS state and regional offices, various state wildlife agency quail coordinators and the National Bobwhite Technical Committee’s grasslands/grazing lands, agriculture and forestry subcommittees.”
    For more information: www.bringbackbobwhites.org. Find us on Facebook, YouTube and Slideshare.

    Woodcock Limited (WL)

    We are excited to welcome a new chapter to our organization, the Woodcock Conservancy. Founded in 2004, the Woodcock Conservancy covers the state of New Jersey – home to some habitat critical to the birds using the eastern flyway. Conservancy Executive Director Jim Mascola shares Woodcock Limited’s belief that the best way to improve habitat for the woodcock is through state or regional chapters where local expertise can come into play and where the bulk of monies raised by these chapters stays and is put to use. An avid hunter, gun dog trainer and conservationist, Mascola started the Woodcock Conservancy as a true labor of love.

    “I began hunting woodcock at an early age, and they fascinated me from the very beginning,” said Mascola. “Living, working and hunting in the area of south Jersey as I do, I am close to Cape May, which is a famous staging area for migrating woodcock. In fact, there was a telemetry study done there a few years ago on woodcock which looked at woodcock survival and mortality over the winter.” (See the Autumn/Winter 2012 issue of Woodcock Limited’s Skydance magazine.)
    “We have many birds which migrate through both in the fall and the spring, and we also have a pretty healthy population of our own birds. It’s a great place to be close to the birds.”
    As we have found over the years, there are quite a few people who are passionate about woodcock in New Jersey. Conservancy Board President Steve DelRossi who works closely with Mascola is one of them. As the owner and manager of Quail Hollow Kennels, DelRossi is one of the leading breeders of Brittany spaniels in the country. Like Mascola, he is in the woods at least six days a week. Having been in the business for over 40 years, he has a wealth of experience and a wealth of understanding about people, dogs and woodcock.
    He said, “Jim and I share in our concern for the woodcock. We believe habitat is the key. We expect to be involved in more habitat projects which will benefit the woodcock here in Jersey.”
    A chapter dinner is being planned, and the Conservancy will be reaching out to WL members in the state in the near future to coordinate some fundraising and projects to benefit the woodcock in New Jersey.
    “The Woodcock Conservancy of New Jersey is looking forward to working with Woodcock Limited in cooperation as a strategic partner for the conservation of the amazing American woodcock,” said Mascola.
    Jim Mascola
    Woodcock Limited, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, was founded in 2003 by a fraternity of hunters and conservationists dedicated to the welfare of the American woodcock. The organization works with local, state and federal organizations to promote woodcock research, habitat management, harvest management and educational efforts to advance the public’s knowledge of the woodcock and its management needs. While the work we do benefits more than 65 species, we are the only international conservation organization solely dedicated to the welfare of the American woodcock across its range. The group also looks forward to continuing to welcome new members and new chapters as we join together in our efforts to create a mosaic of sustainable habitat to aid the American woodcock across its range.
    For more information: 570-435-3487, www.woodcocklimited.org, info@woodcocklimited.org.

    Wolfe Publishing Group