Partnership with the USDA – NRCS and WI DNR improves forest wildlife habitat on private lands
By: Brent Rudolph - RGS
Coraopolis, PA – Healthy forests are the centerpiece of the Ruffed Grouse Society/American Woodcock Society (RGS/AWS) mission, and their importance is recognized by multiple other conservation organizations. RGS/AWS has entered into a novel partnership with the U. S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR), collaboratively supporting two new, full-time staff dedicated to forest habitat development on private lands in Wisconsin. This coordination enables sharing of skills and resources to impact forest management and conservation beyond what would be possible by each partner organization alone.
Dan Hoff (stationed in the Lena NRCS field office; covering Northeast Wisconsin) and Jared Elm (stationed in the Ladysmith NRCS field office; covering Northwest Wisconsin) have already begun working in these forest wildlife specialist positions. Hoff and Elm will work with forest landowners to identify and implement sound forest management practices on their lands, emphasizing those that enhance or expand the young forest habitat base. From initial consultation to practice implementation, landowners will receive all the technical assistance needed to achieve their forest wildlife habitat objectives, and financial assistance via the application of Federal Farm Bill conservation funding.
“We are very excited about this initiative,” stated Eric Allness, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Partnerships and Initiatives. “Private landowners manage the majority of forested land in Wisconsin, and through these positions we envision being able to better provide needed technical and financial services to this community.”
“We are thrilled to have Dan and Jared contribute their energy and expertise to this partnership,” noted Mark Witecha, WI DNR Upland Wildlife Ecologist and Farm Bill Specialist. “With their assistance, Wisconsin landowners have an excellent opportunity to receive support for managing and sustaining their forests and wildlife habitat.”
Hoff was an active participant in a ruffed grouse project at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, where he earned his B.S. in Wildlife Ecology. He earned his M.S. degree from Oklahoma State University. Hoff was previously employed with the Aldo Leopold Foundation, and worked on sharp-tailed grouse conservation for North Dakota State University. He can be reached at DanH@RuffedGrouseSociety.org, or (920) 829-5406 ext. 126.
An Iowa native, Elm earned his B.S. from Iowa State University, and previously worked as a Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist with Pheasants Forever where he gained a solid working knowledge of Farm Bill conservation programs. Elm has also worked to assist in the development and implementation of forest management plans for the Antrim Conservation District in Bellaire, Michigan, where he became familiar with ruffed grouse, and the traditions of grouse and woodcock hunting. He can be reached at JaredE@RuffedGrouseSociety.org, or (715) 532-3786 ext. 111.
This initiative will greatly expand the RGS/AWS ability to directly improve habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife dependent upon young forests, and is only possible due to the hard work and passion of our partners at NRCS and WI DNR. More information on RGS/AWS can be found at www.RuffedGrouseSociety.org.