Simply put, the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) efforts would be far less effective without our network of partners. In the Great Plains and West in particular, the the Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative (LPCI) and the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) benefit immensely from these partnerships.
Few WLFW partners have been as important as Pheasants Forever, particularly for LPCI and SGI. Pheasants Forever recently highlighted its cross-species work in two articles in the Spring 2019 Pheasants Forever Journal of Upland Conservation magazine.
While it may seem counterintuitive that a group with “pheasants” in its name would work on sage grouse and lesser prairie-chickens, Ron Leathers, PF’s public finance director, explains the group’s motivation:
“We want to be true to our core, but our mission says ‘and other wildlife,’ and we’re thrilled to help other upland gamebirds when we can benefit pheasants and quail too. Our work on prairie chickens and sage grouse creates a lot of crossover that benefits pheasants and quail too.”
One specific example of how Pheasants Forever supports WLFW’s efforts is through the SGI Field Capacity Coordinator position, staffed by Michael Brown. Funding for the position comes from SGI, but Pheasants Forever is Brown’s employer.
In his role, Brown coordinates on-the-ground conservation through a network of staff who work directly with ranchers and producers to implement projects. This can help build trust with producers who may not want to work directly with the federal government by allowing them to work with an NGO to access resources and assistance provided by NRCS. Brown explains the benefits:
“If producers don’t want to work with the federal government, for whatever reason, they don’t have to. In my experience, we’ve found that people are more willing to work with Pheasants Forever at the beginning because we’re not the government, even though the work might be funded by federal dollars. Then they choose to work with us on subsequent phases of a project because they see that we get work done efficiently and comprehensively.”
This approach is precisely why SGI and LPCI have been able to work with thousands of producers to benefit millions of acres of habitat for lesser prairie-chickens, sage grouse, and other wildlife.
Download the stories to read more about how Pheasants Forever plays a key role in benefiting working lands for ranchers, communities, and wildlife. Be sure to check out Pheasants Forever’s website to learn more about this key WLFW partner.