column By: Staff | September, 20
Blackwood Hired as Regional Director of Development
“Regional directors are the gears that keep our network rolling. They lead the business aspect of conservation funding, and without them, nothing gets done — it’s that simple,” stated Ben Jones, President and CEO of RGS & AWS. “In Glen we have an incredible mix of business sense, years of RGS/AWS volunteer experience and a passion for this work. Not to mention his chops as an upland bird hunter and dog handler. Glen is the real deal, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him leading our Michigan and eastern Great Lakes network.”
Blackwood, Upland Almanac’s “Pages Past” columnist said, “My father was a conservation officer for the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Being able to follow in his footsteps in a conservation position is exciting on both a professional and personal level. I am most excited about working with members and volunteers while growing awareness of the importance of healthy forests and how RGS & AWS are leading the way in forest conservation.” Blackwood holds a BA in agriculture from Ohio State University. He’s been married to his wife Kathleen for 28 years, and they have two adult children, Megan and Ian. They have bird dogs as well: Laurel, a 12-year-old English springer spaniel and Bosco, a 6-year-old English cocker spaniel. He currently resides in Rockford, Michigan.
RGS Receives 4-Star Charity Navigator Rating for the 5th Consecutive Year
Once again, the RGS was honored with a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. This is the fifth consecutive time that RGS has earned this top distinction. The 4-star rating is a result of RGS’s continuing to maintain sound fiscal management practices and a commitment to accountability and transparency in efforts to unite conservationists to improve wildlife habitat and forest health.
Since 2002, Charity Navigator has awarded only the most fiscally responsible organizations a 4-star rating. In 2011, Charity Navigator added 17 metrics, focused on governance and ethical practices as well as measures of openness, to its ratings methodology.
Michael Thatcher, president and CEO of Charity Navigator said, “We are proud to announce that the Ruffed Grouse Society has earned its fifth consecutive 4-star rating. This is our highest possible rating and indicates that your organization adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way. Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that the Ruffed Grouse Society exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in your area of work. Only 15 percent of the charities we evaluate have received at least five consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that the Ruffed Grouse Society outperforms most other charities in America. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets the Ruffed Grouse Society apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.”
National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative
“Targeted” CRP Practices Can Boost
USDA’s Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce is on board saying, “Now in its 35th year, CRP provides a win-win for both people and the environment by controlling soil erosion, improving water quality and — as we see here — increasing wildlife populations by creating critical habitats,” he said. “This study’s findings are exactly the kind of outcomes we aim for with CRP, proving that the program can lead to great conservation benefits.”
The research shows Farm Bill CRP practices applied on a landscape-scale or “focal area” approach, being demonstrated by the NBCI, have a 78% chance of improving breeding season bobwhite populations and a 95% chance of improving nonbreeding season populations.
“Our objectives were to understand how CRP influences northern bobwhite populations at landscape scales to uncover any differences in the efficiency of CRP in focal landscapes versus CRP in unmanaged or reference areas,” said Dr. James Martin, associate professor of UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.
“Conservation Reserve Program practices that use native vegetation were much more productive in managed landscapes than unmanaged ones. For example, in a focal area landscape, preliminary results indicate that for every 5% increase in whole-field herbaceous-based CRP practices (e.g., CP2) in a landscape a bobwhite covey is added to the population.”
Dr. Martin said the size of the landscape mattered depending on the season, with any CRP field farther than 1.2 miles away from a local population had no influence in breeding season, while during nonbreeding season a CRP field up to five miles away positively impacted the local population.
“This study highlights the importance of the landscape-scale, targeted approach to conservation in farmlands,” said Dr. John Yeiser, UGA research associate, adding the study also demonstrated that CRP in isolation is less efficient than in clusters and that there may be variability in the impacts of CRP in different regions depending on the amount or arrangement of resources that are complementary to those added by CRP practices.
Participating states with NBCI focal areas were Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. NBCI’s focal area program requires a minimum of 1,500 acres of managed habitat, an unmanaged reference or control area for comparison and formal habitat and bird monitoring practices. Fifteen focal and reference areas totaling more than 150,000 acres were involved in the study.
For more detail read the full report at bringbackbobwhites.org.
For more detail about the Conservation Reserve Program, visit fsa.usda.gov.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
Act Secures Funding for Public Access and Conservation Programs
In the 56-year history of LWCF, the program has received full funding only twice. Historically, legislators have refused to allocate the full $900 million that the fund is authorized to receive, despite the fact that this money is derived solely from federal offshore oil and gas revenues and earmarked for the program each year. Despite this recurring lack of funds, LWCF has funded over 40,000 projects spanning every U.S. county. Here in my home state of Montana, LWCF has funded hundreds of fishing access sites in addition to public parks, ball fields and open space.
More important for the upland community, LWCF funds have supported the Forest Legacy Program (FLP), which keeps working forests productive, improves wildlife habitat and maintains public access. Some of the best blue and ruffed grouse habitat I hunt has been improved by FLP grants. Keeping working forests productive while sustaining wildlife habitat for both game and nongame species is a tightrope act that requires a reliable funding source, one that this legislation will help secure in perpetuity.
Similarly, LWCF has been used to purchase easements on historic ranches on the Rocky Mountain Front and in eastern Montana that contain excellent bird habitat. Without LWCF funds and the private support leveraged by this program, those lands would remain closed to the public lands hunter. Chances are that some of the places you run dogs or hunt in your state were supported in part by LWCF funds.
The Great American Outdoors Act also included much-needed funding to address the staggering maintenance backlogs of our public land management agencies. Maintenance backlog funding in the bill totals $9.5 billion over five years: 70% for the National Park Service; 15% for the U.S. Forest Service; 5% for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5% for the Bureau of Land Management; 5% for the Bureau of Indian Education. This funding will result in the immediate commencement of projects to improve public access infrastructure, restore vital habitat buffers and ensure public safety. These projects will create jobs and support the rural gateway economies that have struggled in this era of economic uncertainty and decreased tourism.
We’re in the midst of a pivotal moment for conservation in the United States. While the conditions are right for installing permanent and dedicated funding for LWCF and addressing maintenance backlogs on our national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands, other conservation priorities have fallen by the wayside during the COVID-19 pandemic. Critical legislation like the Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act has stalled, while embattled landscapes like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge still face imminent threats from development. Please take a minute to visit us at backcountryhunters.org and take advantage of our resources to make your voice heard in support of our public lands, waters and wildlife.