This past Saturday, on September 10, we held the second Pheasant Rendezvous in the Thumb. Anna Mitterling, Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator, along with Farm Bill Biologists Jason Myers, Kurt Wolf. and David Ferris worked to great the agenda for the event and presented on some key topics for Pheasant Cooperative Leaders.
The event kicked off by talking about the current victories and challenges Pheasant Cooperative are facing. Cooperative leaders were able to gain ideas from each other and Pheasant Forever State Rep, Bill VanderZouwen. For Pheasant Cooperatives to be successful, habitat is vital, and there are many obstacles that can get in the way of expanding and improving on current habitat.
This lead to our next topic: Selling Conservation, Tips and tricks to connecting with fellow landowners to promote grassland habitat. A great blog that discusses this further can be found here. The presentations were chalked full with additional ideas from cooperative leaders as we discussed avenues you can connect with landowners, especially when their goals and vision for the property has little do do with Pheasants. Focusing on overlaps in goals, such as quality habitat for wildlife, protecting our water quality, and reducing soil erosion are great places to start.
Over lunch we discussed the importance of tracking habitat work on Cooperative Properties. Anna and Jason unveiled the draft forms that will be used to help quantify the quality of habitat on existing cooperatives. There was a lot of excitement about this tool, and it provides a structure to quantifying the hard work these cooperatives are accomplishing within their territories. It was explained that along with the forms, will come additional training on identifying quality habitat and knowing some tools to enhance poor quality parcels.
To begin those training, the next section of the day was tips on identifying native grasses and noxious weeds that are commonly found in grassland plantings over time. In addition to learning how to identify them, some different tools to manage the noxious weeds and increase the beneficial native species, were also discussed.
The day wrapped up by walking two properties that are well managed within the Mayville Cooperative. Cooperative Leaders were able to walk around with the Farm Bill Biologist as well as DNR Upland Game Bird Specialist, Al Stewart, and practice identifying the plants they had learned. Because of the high quality and intentionally of how the habitat we walked were structured, they were also able to discuss property designs that help to provide the maximum benefits to pheasants and general wildlife.
A special thanks to those who were able to be part of the planning and participation in this event!