"Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative"
Stokes, Creagh join conservation groups and state
agencies to kick-off wild pheasant initiative that
promises to improve habitat, increase hunter
BATH, MICH - U.S.
Senator Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Department of
Natural Resources director designate Rodney Stokes,
and Michigan Department of Agriculture director
designate Keith Creagh today joined together with a
partnership of Michigan conservation organizations
and representatives of federal and state agencies to
kick-off the "Michigan Pheasant Restoration
Initiative," a partnership geared toward restoring
wild pheasant habitat in Michigan. The growing
partnership currently includes Michigan State
Council of Pheasants Forever, Michigan United
Conservation Clubs, Michigan Department of Natural
Resources and Environment, Michigan Department of
Agriculture, Michigan Association of Conservation
Districts, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency
and Natural Resource Conservation Service.
"I strongly support
this program, which we included in the most recent
Farm Bill," said U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chair
of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture,
Nutrition, and Forestry. "Hunting and outdoor
recreation is part of our way of life in Michigan.
This program lets our farmers and landowners get
added value from their property while opening up
access for hunting. This will allow sportsmen from
across our state to enjoy all that Michigan's
outdoors have to offer."
By providing quality
habitat to support the long-term recovery of wild
pheasants in Michigan, the Initiative will also
benefit other grassland species and create
significant opportunities for small game hunters in
Michigan. "There are more than 50,000 hunters who
pursue pheasants annually in Michigan, and we can do
better at meeting their demand for opportunity,"
says Mike Parker, Pheasants Forever's Regional
Wildlife Biologist in the state. "It's a given that
when you have quality and quantity habitat, you have
pheasants. Revitalizing habitat - nesting cover,
escape cover and food and winter cover - is the key
to revitalizing pheasant hunting in Michigan."
Director for the Department of Natural Resources
Rodney Stokes applauded the Initiative as a fresh
example of good governing for Michigan's new state
agency structure. "This initiative is a great
showing of partnership between state and federal
agencies and conservation groups, and a good example
of how the new Quality of Life executive group will
work together," said Rodney Stokes, director
designate for the Department of Natural Resources.
"It will increase and diversify hunting
opportunities in our state, help with hunter
recruitment and retention, and the habitat work will
benefit many other species. We are very excited to
be a part of the effort to rebuild and strengthen
pheasant hunting in Michigan."
Two primary goals of
the plan are to double Michigan's current pheasant
harvest and to increase access to quality hunting
lands. The plan will also have a tremendous impact
on hunter retention and recruitment in the state.
According to Parker, the key difference between past
efforts and the new Pheasant Recovery Initiative is
the broad landscape scale. "Previous efforts have
been successful on smaller scales, improving 40
acres for a landowner here, and 40 acres for a
landowner there," Parker said. "But to maximize
pheasant hunting, we need to broaden the focus."
Conservation Clubs Executive Director Erin McDonough
heralded the Initiative as a gateway to recruiting
and retaining new hunters. "Many first time hunters'
experience comes from hunting small game," said
McDonough. "You'll hear from many hunters in
Michigan that they got started hunting and
appreciating its place in conservation from hunting
pheasants when Michigan actually had a good pheasant
population. With Michigan ranking last in the nation
in hunter recruitment and retention, MUCC is proud
to be a part of this Initiative that will help
improve hunter opportunities, hunter recruitment and
retention and preserve the future of conservation in
Along with the
Initiative, Michigan DNRE will also be expanding
opportunities for public hunting on private lands
through the Hunting Access Program. Outreach and
education to youth about pheasant hunting is also a
priority within the Initiative. The conservation
partners will host youth events to explain pheasant
needs and habitat as well as an opportunity to share
their pheasant hunting heritage with others.
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