Inside Region 3
Midwest Region
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Partners for Fish and Wildlife Teams With Many for Landowner Workshop

Scott Walter gestures during his presentation on the history of his family’s farm and the results of his ruffed grouse telemetry studies. Scott’s research took place in the area where the workshop was held. Photo by Mark Pfost/USFWS.

Scott Walter gestures during his presentation on the history of his family’s farm and the results of his ruffed grouse telemetry studies. Scott’s research took place in the area where the workshop was held. Photo by Mark Pfost/USFWS.

Relationships with partnering agencies are important for conservation. Here Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources forester Mike Finlay helps mark a Partners for Fish and Wildlife timber stand improvement project. Photo by Bill Kiser/USFWS.
Relationships with partnering agencies are important for conservation. Here Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources forester Mike Finlay helps mark a Partners for Fish and Wildlife timber stand improvement project. Photo by Bill Kiser/USFWS.

An informational workshop for private landowners on how to manage forests for ruffed grouse and American woodcock in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area was held in September. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife program teamed up with Pheasants Forever, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Ruffed Grouse Society, Kickapoo Woods Cooperative, Driftless Forest Network, Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development and Wisconsin Alliance of Forest Owners to put on this workshop. The event capped off months of planning among several partners to make this workshop a reality.

Ruffed grouse and American woodcock are iconic species in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area, the un-glaciated region of southwest Wisconsin. Many residents recall the startling excitement of a ruffed grouse exploding into the air or the peening calls of woodcock signifying that Spring is here. At one time the Driftless Area had some of the strongest populations of these birds in the entire country. However, these birds, and many other young forest dwellers, have experienced significant declines as forests across the northern United States aged in the last 50 years. As a result, the Young Forest Project was created to promote early successional habitat. While much of the attention focuses on North-Central Wisconsin, workshop planners wanted to increase awareness in the Driftless Area about young forests and oak management.

This workshop was unique in that it involved both presentations in a classroom setting and a hike to display many different management practices. Scott Walter, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Upland Wildlife Ecologist and Farm Bill Coordinator, hosted the workshop on his family’s farm. This provided an opportunity for the 35 attendees to see, first-hand, various management practices they can implement while also learning more about early successional habitat and oak ecology.

The morning session consisted of classroom style presentations underneath a large tent. Ruffed Grouse Society Coordinating Biologist Gary Zimmer started the day by providing information on ruffed grouse and woodcock ecology and how these birds utilize habitats in a hardwood forest setting. This was followed by the Wisconsin Alliance of Forest Owners presenting property tax implications for forest landowners. Scott Walter then finished the morning presentations by providing background information on his family’s farm and the results of his ruffed grouse telemetry research in Southwest Wisconsin.

Following lunch, the attendees broke into groups and took to a hike around the property to view several different management practices. Groups were led by resource professionals from the participating partners. Stations along the hike included oak stand management, aspen regeneration, mixed hardwood management, wildlife shrub establishment, oak savanna restoration and native grassland establishment. Attendees were provided binders that included educational materials and resource professionals were able to promote their agency’s private lands programs.

The idea for this workshop originated during a conversation between U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife program biologists Mark Pfost and I, and Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologist Erin Holmes. The workshop finally came to fruition on a beautiful day in Southwest Wisconsin after 6 months of planning and contributions by the many partners involved. Pfost and I also took the opportunity to promote the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. Attendees left with smiles and a bunch of new ideas. This workshop showed what could be accomplished when people come together in partnership and various agencies and organizations coordinate their efforts.

For more information on the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, visit us online: Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge Partners for Fish and Wildlife and Midwest Region Partners for Fish and Wildlife program or contact Bill Kiser at (608) 779-2388 or William_Kiser@fws.gov

Learn more about the Wisconsin Young Forest Initiative and the Young Forest Project

By Bill Kiser
Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Upper Mississippi River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge -- La Crosse District
 

Aspen regeneration after a single growing season following cutting. Young pockets of dense aspen regrowth are important to Driftless Area grouse and woodcock. Photo by Mark Pfost/USFWS.

Aspen regeneration after a single growing season following cutting. Young pockets of dense aspen regrowth are important to Driftless Area grouse and woodcock. Photo by Mark Pfost/USFWS.

Attendees listen to one of the workshop’s morning presentations. Photo by Bill Kiser/USFWS.

Attendees listen to one of the workshop’s morning presentations. Photo by Bill Kiser/USFWS.


Last updated: January 5, 2015