Recent Grant and Partnerships Add to Horsepower
451 McCormick Road
Coraopolis, PA 15108
July 30, 2007
For Immediate Release
Coraopolis, PA – With the acquisition of some unique tree-harvesting machinery, the Ruffed Grouse Society has teamed up with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and others to make a new generation of these versatile machines available to public and private landowners who want to enhance cover for grouse, woodcock and other wildlife.
Inspired by the FWS Partners for Wildlife program and what it was doing with medium sized machines in Pennsylvania, the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) wanted (in 2004) to purchase one of their own, and thanks to a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, was able to do so.
“The FWS was doing more for woodcock habitats with its machines than the rest of us combined, so we decided to follow their lead,” said Mark Banker, Senior RGS Biologist out of State College, PA.
The machinery — a Caterpillar 277B multi-terrain loader, has been described as a deluxe skid steer with tracks instead of wheels, with a tree shearing device mounted on the front and a heavy-duty mower.
“The equipment is small enough that a commercial driver’s license isn’t required to move it around. It is, however, able to effectively address a wide variety of habitat management needs,” Banker said.
“We’ve really had a great experience working with our local CAT dealer. So far, the machine purchased by RGS has (based conservatively on the cost of contracting) accomplished more than $100,000 worth of habitat work on public land. Our public land partners and our chapters are just as excited about the equipment and its performance as we are,” said Banker.
With additional support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and via a unique partnership between RGS, the Foundation for California University of Pennsylvania and the FWS’ “Partners for Wildlife” program, RGS recently acquired two more “CAT” multi-terrain loaders with various tree-sheers and mower attachments. The three “CATs” will be used to create habitat throughout Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
“Once again, the Richard King Mellon Foundation has made it possible for RGS and the FWS to expand the use of these machines into New England, Ohio, New Jersey, West Virginia, and in other areas where habitat management needs are of mutual concern. RGS is excited to expand the program to private lands where landowners are enrolled in the FWS Partners for Wildlife program,” said Michael D. Zagata, RGS Executive Director and CEO.
In Pennsylvania, more than a dozen state game lands, three state forests and public land owned by Penn State and the Corps of Engineers have already benefited from the program. While the RGS has focused on public lands, the FWS concentrates on private lands.
Currently, the first CAT is on loan to the Maryland DNR at Indian Springs Wildlife Management Area. Most states don’t have equipment capable of managing anything from grass right up to medium-size trees. Now they have relatively free access to some, but the demand is growing by the day.
Recently, RGS donated its first CAT equipment to the FWS, which can better handle storage and moving equipment to remote locations. With FWS approval, the agreement allows RGS and its partner’s access to the equipment to implement habitat projects that reflect common goals.
“Our first landowner was incredibly excited by the work accomplished. They are big deer and grouse enthusiasts and were able to enhance habitat for both,” Banker said, adding that landowner fees are invested right back into RGS’ biological program so that more habitat can be created on public and private lands.
Under the Partners for Wildlife program, the landowners pay a portion of the costs at a rate far below a standard contractor’s fee.
Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage.
Information on the RGS, its mission, management projects and membership can be found on the web at: www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.
For more information, contact: