451 McCormick Road
Coraopolis, PA 15108
March 11, 2008
For Immediate Release
Coraopolis, PA – The Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) gets plenty of attention for advocating cutting big trees to make small ones, but few realize that RGS volunteers and its partners annually plant thousands of trees.
This spring and fall, as part of the Woodcock Habitat Initiative on State Lands (PA WHISL), RGS will partner with Mackin Engineering Company of Pittsburgh, PA and the PA Game Commission to plant 30,000 aspen, alder, hawthorn and dogwood seedlings, transforming an open, agricultural field into a woodcock wonderland on State Game Lands 39 in Venango County, PA.
The project was designed by both Mackin Engineering staff and RGS, utilizing Game Commission seedlings grown at their Howard Nursery facility. This project partnership also includes the PA Department of Transportation which intends to provide construction services and to prepare the site which will also function as a wetland mitigation bank. The wetland mitigation bank will be used to mitigate wetland impacts from future transportation projects which occur within the Allegheny River/French Creek Watershed.
Chris Wagner of Mackin Engineering describes the transformation of this patch of grass as “Taking what has traditionally been a ‘woodcock rest stop’, so to speak, and creating a ‘5-star resort’ where both woodcock and grouse will find habitat types that they require, not only for resting but for feeding activities, foraging, courtship, mating and brood rearing. With any luck it will become a place for large numbers of woodcock and their offspring to return to, year after year. It’s a win-win-win situation for the project partnership, birding and hunting enthusiasts, as well as the birds of both species.”
According to RGS Executive Director and CEO Mike Zagata “This project is consistent with our mission to provide young forest habitat for grouse, woodcock and numerous other wildlife species, both hunted and non-hunted. The habitat these birds require is found mid-way between open fields and mature timber in terms of the age and type of the plants that comprise it. Thus it can be created by planting plant species in open fields or pastures that create the right conditions or by cutting mature trees to allow light to reach the forest floor and, over time, create those same conditions.”
Anyone who faithfully hunts grouse and woodcock knows that you won’t find them in mature forests with big ol’ trees. These birds like thick cover with lots of small, young trees and shrubs, which is part of what makes them such challenging game. Achieving this habitat type mostly requires cutting down the big trees so that sunlight can allow these young trees and shrubs to grow, as the cut logs head off to the sawmill to be formed, shaped and recast as reams of paper, coffee tables or two-by-fours.
The Ruffed Grouse Society’s Charles Bechtel Chapter in Reading, PA, plants 1,000 or more trees provided by the PA Game Commission every year at their April field days. Last year, RGS funded the planting of 33,000 trees on reclaimed mine lands at Jockey Hollow WMA in Harrison County, OH, and thousands of trees have been planted on various projects in West Virginia and New Jersey, just to mention a few. Most of these are conifer or fruit trees planted by hand by RGS volunteers.
As the RGS works to meet its objective of stemming the decline of grouse and woodcock habitat and creating more places to successfully hunt, establishing young forestland, where there once was none, clearly is part of the equation.
For more information contact Mark Banker, at 814-867-7946 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Mark Banker, 814-867-7946.