451 McCormick Rd
Coraopolis PA 15108
For Immediate Release
June 25, 2015
Coraopolis, PA – The Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) co-sponsored and spoke at a congressional briefing for United States House of Representative members and staff on Wednesday June 24, 2015. The briefing was hosted by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and highlighted proposed legislation that would dramatically enhance the ability of the U.S. Forest Service to sustain the young forest habitats required by ruffed grouse, American woodcock and many other species of game and nongame wildlife. The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, HR 2647, includes language that would establish a streamlined planning process for projects designed to establish young forest wildlife habitats.
In his comments, Dan Dessecker, RGS director of conservation policy, stated, “Clearly, we must work to increase the abundance and the distribution of young forest habitats throughout our eastern forests, including our national forests. The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015 would enhance the ability of the U.S. Forest Service to play its essential role in the conservation of forest wildlife and the protection of our nation’s hunting heritage.”
Ruffed grouse populations are experiencing population declines throughout the East and these declines are, in part, a result of habitat loss on our national forests and other public lands. Indeed, directly due to a lack of the forest management necessary to sustain young forest habitats, ruffed grouse have been virtually, if not in fact, eliminated from the Chattahoochee (Georgia), Hoosier (Indiana) and Sumter (South Carolina) National Forests.
Young forest habitats on national forests and other public lands are critically important to the 11 million sportsmen and women who pursue white-tailed deer each year in the United States. Deer hunting is a foundation of the economy of many of our nation’s rural communities, contributing billions of dollars annually. According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “. . . national forest deer habitat can be considered suboptimal or marginal from a deer management perspective.” An assessment of deer management in Wisconsin found that, “. . . national forest management policy has had a dramatic impact on deer herd productivity . . .”
Likewise, many species of nongame wildlife require young forest habitats. Across the eastern United States, 59 percent of the songbird species that use these habitats for breeding are declining, while only 11 percent are increasing. Conversely, only 29 percent of the songbird species that breed in mature forest habitats are declining, while 31 percent are increasing.
The ultimate fate of the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015 remains uncertain, but it’s encouraging that Congress is increasingly recognizing the need to increase wildlife habitat management on our national forests and other federal public lands. Additional co-sponsors of the event included the Boone & Crockett Club, National Wild Turkey Federation and the Rocky Mountain Elk 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, the mission, management projects and membership can be found on the web at: www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.