Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, in Omaha recently to announce a new CRP sign-up that begins March 14, lauded the habitat creation efforts of Nebraska Pheasants Forever chapters. He used the setting of the annual Pheasant Fest to make the CRP announcement.
Since Pheasants Forever's first Nebraska chapter organized in 1986, 3 million acres of wildlife habitat improvement in the state have been made, says Vilsack.
Pete Berthelsen, PF's state senior field coordinator, says the 3-million-acre accomplishment could not have been possible without the CRP program.
Pheasants Forever has nine Farm Bill wildlife biologists in Nebraska that work with private landowners to enroll them in conservation programs; it supplies CRP grass seed mixes and seed drills; and helps with prescribed burns to rejuvenate old grasslands. And, through CRP-MAP, a partnership with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, PF helps improve habitat while providing statewide public access for walk-in hunting, he explains.
The Elkhorn Valley chapter, covering Madison, Stanton and Pierce counties, was the first formed, on March 4, 1986. Today, there are 60 PF chapters, four Quail
Forever chapters and 10,000 members. In all, those chapters complete about 3,900 habitat projects annually.
At the 2011 Pheasant Fest, 14 Nebraska landowners were recognized for their contributions to upland game bird habitat.
Berthelsen cited several different programs that the landowners have taken part in, including CRP, continuous CRP, the Wetland Reserve Program, Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program and the Environmental Qualities Incentives Program. He also recognized various partnering agencies PF works with—the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Farm Service Agency, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and local natural resources districts.