FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2015
Ruffed Grouse Society Supports New Great Lakes Region Wildlife Habitat Effort
Over 20 Agencies and Organizations Partner in Effort
Coraopolis, PA – The Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) and its sister organization the American Woodcock Society (AWS) are partners in a large forest management and habitat conservation effort that will target improvements on approximately 64,000 acres of key habitat in the Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
This $10 million, tri-state project is part of a new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) announced on January 15 by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack under the oversight of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
The Great Lakes regional project begins in 2015 with funding available through 2019. The project will be managed in partnership between NRCS and American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and is complemented by work being conducted on public lands by approximately 25 partner organizations including RGS and AWS.
Targeted for young forest-related wildlife species that have had long-term population declines, this major partnership is expected to aid conservation efforts for approximately 20 wildlife species such as American woodcock, ruffed grouse, golden-winged warbler (GWWA), black-billed cuckoo, moose, Canada lynx, and northern long-eared bat.
“RGS has been at the forefront in the fight to provide critical young forest habitat across the Eastern United States for over 50 years,” states RGS and AWS President and CEO John Eichinger. “We look forward to working together as a significant partner in this project, providing both funding and technical assistance through our biological staff to help with these efforts.” RGS and AWS have pledged approximately $120,000 in funds and biologist’s time to this project and will restore an additional 400 acres of young forest habitat in the three states.
The GWWA, which depends on the conservation of key habitat in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin for breeding, has suffered one of the steepest population declines of any songbird species with a decline of more than three percent annually over the last 40 years across its range. That decline is due primarily to habitat loss, particularly the loss of early successional or “young” forest habitat as existing forests mature or are converted to non-forest uses.
“Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin have the largest remaining breeding population of the GWWA, and habitat management actions there are considered critical to rebuilding populations rapidly,” said Dr. George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy, which has been a national leader on the warbler’s conservation. “This is the poster-bird for recovery of early successional forest habitat and one that we are proud to contribute to saving for generations of Americans to come.”
Funding for this program will provide technical support to private landowners whose properties lie within designated focal areas, helping them develop and implement conservation management plans for their land. Similar to other NRCS programs, financial assistance will be available to qualifying landowners. Prescribed management practices may include aspen management, timber improvement and shrubland restoration.
Established in 1961, The Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society is North America’s foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS/AWS works with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.
Information on RGS/AWS, its mission, management projects and membership can be found at: www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.
Matt Soberg, RGS/AWS Director of Communications
451 McCormick Road
Coraopolis, PA 15108
Gary Zimmer, RGS/AWS Coordinating Biologist
Laona, WI 54541
Eric Ellis, RGS/AWS Regional Biologist/Grant Writer
P.O. Box 43
Traverse City, MI 49685