RGS PRESS RELEASE
451 McCormick Rd
Coraopolis PA 15108
For Immediate Release
August 29, 2016
The Ruffed Grouse Society brought together agency professionals from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa to focus on landscape-scale goals to enhance future young forest habitat in the Driftless Region.
Coraopolis, PA – The Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) held the Driftless Young Forest Symposium in La Crosse, Wisconsin on August 16 and 17, 2016 bringing together agency professionals from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa to focus on landscape-scale goals to enhance future young forest habitat in the Driftless Region. The RGS thanks partners who provided additional support and resources for the Symposium including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, National Wild Turkey Federation, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“The goals for the Driftless Young Forest Symposium were to provide agency professionals with a clear understanding of how recent forest trends have impacted the wildlife community to recognize the various challenges that forest managers face in this region and to explore opportunities for a landscape-scale approach to forest management in the future,” said RGS Regional Wildlife Biologist Scott Walter. “The issue is extremely significant and symptomatic of what’s occurring across the entire central hardwoods region. We’re seeing an entire shift in forest structure toward older, climax forest types. Along the way, we’re losing young forest-adapted wildlife like ruffed grouse and whip-poor-wills as well as entire communities like oak forests. The symposium was intended to engage professionals in an ongoing dialogue so that we can develop tools to address these issues. I was extremely thrilled to see the passion, interest and ideas brought forth by the attendees, and we’ll use this excitement as we continue to build a new and meaningful approach to forest management across the Driftless in the years to come.”
The Driftless Region encompasses southwestern Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois and is unique for its forested landscape, deeply carved valleys and streams resulting from the region escaping historical glaciation. RGS Director of Conservation Policy Dan Dessecker provided wildlife impacts of long-term forest trends in the Driftless Region, and stated, “To sustain the full array of forest wildlife, we must sustain the full array of wildlife habitats.” A major challenge for the Driftless area is that the landscape is 90 percent privately owned, and therefore, it is necessary to help private landowners understand that healthy wildlife populations result from healthy forest management. “Wildlife is the window through which the public views our forests,” Dessecker continued.
Additional presentations and discussions included trends in the composition of the region’s forests, wildlife impacts of long-term forest trends, assessment of current timber markets, a model for landscape-scale forest management and a specific focus on developing a shared vision and ongoing collaborative partnership to guide future Driftless Region forest management. Presenters included WI DNR Deputy Secretary Kurt Thiede, RGS Regional Wildlife Biologist Scott Walter, WI DNR Research Sociologist and Economist Tricia Gorby-Knoot, and WI DNR Forest Ecologists/Silviculturists Brad Hutnik and Greg Edge.
Agency attendees included representatives from the Wisconsin DNR, Minnesota DNR, Iowa DNR, Beyer Forestry, Pheasants Forever, Iowa State University, Upper Iowa University, National Wild Turkey Federation, NRCS, Army Corps of Engineers, The Nature Conservancy, USFWS, Southwest Badger RC&D, Kickapoo Woods Cooperative, Kickapoo Valley Reserve, University of Wisconsin Extension, Nielsen & Nielsen Forestry and the Aldo Leopold Foundation.
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 on the web at: www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.