Conservation CEOs to offer insight into the state of the nation’s public lands at 2022 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic
By Christine Peterson
Look at a land ownership map of the U.S., and notice how it changes from swaths of green, brown and blue showing federal land to a patchwork of white as you move from west to east. Populations and land uses also ebb and flow, from California with its 40 million people to Wyoming with its 600,000 to New York with 20 million. But none of these colors or numbers accurately show what’s on the ground and what the land means for hunters, habitat and wildlife.
As much as the West may be considered a bastion for public lands, accessible to public land hunters from across the globe, the nation’s wildlife needs good habitat everywhere, on private lands and public lands and everything in between.
And those lands – all of them – face unprecedented challenges and opportunities.
A panel of presidents and CEOs from some of the country’s top conservation organizations will speak for an hour at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 12 about where they see habitat conservation, hunting, wildlife and access moving in the next year or more. Hear from Land Tawney with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Howard Vincent with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, Ben Jones with the Ruffed Grouse Society, and Whit Fosburgh with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
The group will talk about new possibilities like the Grasslands Act and familiar – but still important – topics like the Conservation Reserve Program and the Farm Bill. They will address how forest management is more than a wonky term used by government officials, and how it influences not only the success of your hunt but the future of our climate. They’ll talk about the importance of working lands providing habitat for wildlife and also access through easements. They will explain how their own experiences in the trenches – working on efforts like those to save sage grouse or to advocate for keeping public land in public hands – could apply to current political battles.
Each voice, and each organization, has a stake in the fight for North America’s wildlife, whether they work more on public or private land. Organizations like Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever not only provide hundreds of biologists to help guide landowners on creating healthier habitat for wildlife, the group has acquired – and opened to public hunting – more than 203,000 acres, totaling about 318 square miles. The groups also work together with state agencies to open up private land for public access through walk-in programs.
That’s why people like Vincent, the organization’s president and CEO, wanted to join leaders from the other conservation organizations on a stage for “A Public Lands State of the Union” talk.
“There are private lands and public lands, and the two can’t exist without each other,” Vincent says. “They are hubs and spokes connecting habitat across fences or other human boundaries. Our approach to our habitat mission needs both public and private lands to truly have a landscape level influence on wildlife populations, cleaner waters, healthier soils, and a more resilient climate.”
The future of wildlife in all of those places, forests, national parks, Bureau of Land Management land, cities, counties, reservations, military bases and private lands, require everyone to come together.
UPDATE: Joel Webster, TRCP’s VP of western conservation, will be replacing Whit Fosburgh at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic.
The 2022 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic will take place at CHI Health Center in Omaha on March 11-13. Tickets and more information can be found at: PheasantFest.org.