Making Room Out West

Did you know that some iconic western game birds hate trees? A long-time champion of habitat restoration and enhancement, Pheasants Forever is helping pioneer recovery of upland game bird habitat by removing woody shrubs and trees from places they don’t belong. Why? Because good habitat means more game and non-game birds, and better hunting.

Cooperative recovery efforts are targeting three prized species: the greater sage grouse, greater prairie chicken, and lesser prairie chicken. Although they inhabit vastly different parts of the country, these prairie grouse share common needs — all require wide-open habitats to survive and an intolerance for woody encroachment on their home turf.

The Partnering to Conserve Sagebrush Rangelands effort between the Intermountain West Joint Venture and the Bureau of Land Management is invested in cutting invasive trees in the right places. Woody plant expansion (mostly juniper species and pinyon pine) is a primary threat driving fragmentation and loss of sagebrush habitats and causing sage grouse declines. In a range-wide effort, land managers have collaborated to restore the quality of working sagebrush landscapes by removing conifers across public and private lands.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of Pheasants Forever Journal, which is published five times a year and features stories on upland bird hunting, guns, sporting dogs, projects, environmental issues, legislative action and other outdoor interests. It is reprinted here with permission. Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education, and land management.

Working Lands for Wildlife and Sage Grouse Initiative will be at Pheasant Fest this year in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, February 16-18. Make sure to stop by their booth to learn about the initiatives and opportunities in your state.