Pheasants forever is dedicated to benefiting wildlife by preserving native habitats and educating landowners on how to do it. Heather Doherty is a Farm Bill Biologist for Pheasants Forever. She sees first hand the benefit of planting native species and encouraging the habitats to grow and explains more about what they do.
“We are known as the habitat organization and restoring native species in areas where they are no longer present,” says Doherty. “We use programs to provide people with money to help purchase the seeds and get them started.”
They help to prepare the ground for seeding, help landowners reach their goals with the habitats, and make sure it remains viable for the future. Doherty says they focus a lot on prairies as that specific type of habitat is vanishing.
She adds, “Prairies need disturbance to be maintained. Once we have established one we mow to encourage the native plants and take out the non-natives and then down the line we will do a prescribed burn.”
There are resources available to help landowners get started. Two of the most common programs are the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). These allow landowners to get payment for their work preserving native habitats.
“The number one value of doing these conservation efforts is the value to the environment,” explains Doherty. “Communities have real benefits as well such as soil quality, water quality and also air as well.”
Prairie plants are deeply rooted and help with carbon sequestration and hold the soil in place creating less erosion. They also help prevent less runoff from farm fields as they can be used as buffers to keep pesticides out of the watershed.
“Pheasants Forever is for anyone, not just hunters or farmers,” says Doherty. “We have a lot of chapters and I encourage anyone interested to go to our website and get involved.”
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