Habitat & Conservation  |  10/10/2023

Habitat Smart Practices Promote Climate Resiliency


USDA funding announcement includes boost for habitat, forage quality and forest management 

By Brent Rudolph and Andrew Schmidt 

For years, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have made the case for the climate benefits of conserving grasslands and uplands. While our work to conserve pheasants, quail, and other wildlife over the last four decades may not have always carried the “climate-smart” moniker, the practices we use to create quality habitat also improve soil health, water quality, climate resilience and carbon sequestration. It is hard to get more climate-smart than that.  

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced which conservation activities are eligible for funding via the Inflation Reduction Act. This funding is dedicated to Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) programs that help promote climate mitigation and carbon sequestration. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever worked closely with our partners to provide input to the agency on eligible activities, emphasizing the climate benefits of habitat practices — and we are thrilled to see our input reflected in the FY24 list.  

The USDA makes the connection between wildlife habitat conservation and climate-smart practices clear throughout their announcement. Eligible activities include prescribed burning, prescribed grazing, and forest stand improvement. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever help landowners and producers across the country use these practices every year — not only to boost habitat, forage quality and forest management, but also to enhance carbon sequestration and reduce long-term emissions.  

They will also safeguard grasslands at risk of conversion and protect eligible forest lands through conservation easements. Well-managed grasslands and forests can absorb carbon quickly, while providing crucial habitat for a wide variety of species. This funding will incentivize private landowners to maintain the quality of their working lands, while simultaneously implementing climate-smart practices.  

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever will continue to work with the USDA and our other partners to implement these programs for the benefit of private landowners, agricultural producers, and local communities. At the same time, we will continue to emphasize that upland habitat conservation and climate-smart conservation are indelibly linked, and mutually beneficial.