column By: Staff | November, 17
The newest chapter to our organization, the Woodcock Conservancy, which covers the state of New Jersey – home to some habitat critical to the birds using the eastern flyway – will be hosting our upcoming annual meeting in March 2018. Steve DelRossi, who serves on the boards for both Woodcock Limited (WL) and the Woodcock Conservancy, is finalizing plans for the event.
Said DelRossi, “We’ve had considerable interest from both hunters as well as some folks who just like the bird and want to help us create more habitat to help the woodcock. There’s a lot which can be done here in New Jersey to help the woodcock, and we’re looking to really be impactful in what we do here.”
More details about this event will be available on our website as they are finalized.
On the heels its successful chapter event last April, WL of Michigan is getting involved in a habitat project on two separate parcels totaling 72 acres in the Gratiot Conservation District. Plans call for removing areas of thick, undesirable brush and grass to make the areas more desirable for male woodcock display sites. Woody plants will also be mowed 15 feet from the existing wood line to create transition zones along the forest edge, and thick grasses will be mowed or treated. The project will seek to implement best management practices for woodcock by managing the habitat on a five-year rotation.
“We expect this to be the first of many projects we undertake to help the woodcock here in Michigan,” said WL of Michigan Board Member Cindy Petkwitz.
As you read this, the winner of our first Follow the Flight Membership Raffle, Stephen Tubach, is most likely still out there somewhere hunting woodcock. If he’s not in Maine, he might be in New Jersey or even in Louisiana. Wherever he is, we know he’s having the time of his life. And remember, when it’s time for our next Follow the Flight Membership Raffle – it might just be you we’ll be reading about as the winner!
For more information about WL: www.woodcocklimited.org, email@example.com, 570-435-3487.
The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) member state wildlife agencies will continue funding through a combination of state funds and the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program (Pittman-Robertson). The decision came following a three-year P-R trial, which produced a range of positive results at the regional and national levels.
The P-R-funded portion of the NBCI, which uses sportsmen’s dollars for public wildlife benefits, is crafted around four core objectives:
• Providing strategies, tools, a centralized database and information services that allow state agencies and their partners to monitor and document management recovery efforts
• Providing technical guidance, coordination and information services that improve the ability of state and federal land management and other conservation agencies and private landowners to manage habitats
• Developing/expanding bobwhite focal areas to ensure formal, consistent implementation of habitat treatments, using forestry and agriculture practices to increase quail habitat/ populations
• Developing awareness among target audiences of the imperiled nature of bobwhite quail habitat, population status, restoration needs and recovery initiatives to restore and secure bobwhite populations
While all the objectives have been identified as critical by the states, the development and expansion of bobwhite focal areas are, perhaps, of most immediate interest to hunters. The minimum size for an NBCI-rated focal area is 1,500 acres or 100 percent usable bobwhite habitat. Larger focal areas must provide at least 25 percent usable bobwhite habitat.
Participation in the NBCI program – referred to as the “Coordinated Implementation Program” or “CIP” because all participants use the same process and same measurements – has grown steadily. Beginning with six pilot areas in 2013 (Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas and Virginia), there are now eight new CIP focal areas (Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Carolina). And another 10 CIP areas are in development (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia.)
These focal areas range in size from 1,694 acres in Delaware to 27,238 acres in Texas. Average size is 8,616 acres. There are 146,473 total acres in NBCI focal areas.
Those interested in more information about NBCI’s P-R funded accomplishments can visit https://bringbackbobwhites.org/download/nbci-p-r-report-june-2017/ for additional detail.
The Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society (RGS/AWS) recently named Dr. Scott Walter as director of conservation programs and Dr. Brent A. Rudolph as director of conservation policy to advance the future of RGS/AWS habitat programs. Walter will provide leadership to regional biologist efforts to enhance young forest habitat on public and private forest lands while Rudolph will work with the Trump Administration, Congress, state agencies and the wildlife conservation community to promote policies and programs that enhance young forest habitat opportunities throughout the United States.
“Scott and Brent have impressive experience and accomplishments enhancing wildlife habitat and the motivation to make a difference for the future. I have no doubt they will take our habitat programs and policy influence to the next level to enhance young forests that benefit grouse and woodcock populations.,” said RGS/AWS President and CEO John Eichinger.
Walter will work with staff, members, government agencies and the public to implement a wide range of programs and projects to develop early successional forest habitat utilizing sound scientific management principles. This position is also responsible for broadening public understanding of the role of forest management in forest wildlife conservation. Rudolph will aid in the coordination of staff, member and public involvement in regulatory development affecting forest management on public and private forest lands.
For more information on RGS/AWS habitat programs: www.RuffedGrouseSociety.org.
RGS/AWS provided public comment urging the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to commit to providing young forest habitat when setting expectations for national monument management. The input emphasized the need for even-age forest management to sustain abundant game and nongame wildlife, provide high-quality hunting and benefit local timber and outdoor recreation economies.
“Our comments provide advice for specific steps Secretary Zinke could take and offer our support to help establish the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument as a precedent-setting model of sustainable forest and wildlife management,” said Eichinger.
The original Katahdin Woods designation did commit to maintaining public hunting access on more than half of the approximately 87,500 total acres within the monument. No provision was made to engage in commercial forest management. The comments submitted by RGS/AWS conveyed appreciation and support for the original commitment to allow hunting but noted “protecting hunting access to these areas and to public lands in general will prove a hollow gesture without ensuring they provide high quality habitat.”