Conservation Private Lands Open To Sportsmen (PLOTS) public access hunting area in North Dakota.
By Rachel Bush, North Dakota State Coordinator
What started with a tweet, and not the kind from our feathered friends, resulted in a boon to public hunting access in North Dakota.
Emily Spolyar, precision ag and conservation specialist in North Dakota, sent out a tweet promoting conservation solutions available to farmers that work with Pheasants Forever. Through the magic of social media Emily found herself connected with a North Dakota farmer, Chase Dewitz, who was looking for alternative uses for unprofitable cropland acres on land he was renting.
“As agronomy consultants, when we saw the approach Pheasants Forever was taking to conservation that promoted grower-led projects with a focus on practicality and profitability for farming operations, we felt it was something our growers could take advantage of,” say Ross and Brett Peterson of Centrol Ag Consulting. “At the same time, it would be helping the wildlife that, as hunters, we value. We knew growers like Chase, who truly care about the land they operate on, would be interested in hearing about these opportunities.”
In spring 61.5 acres of perennial habitat were established through a Pheasants Forever program. But the story doesn’t end there. Understanding Chase’s goals led Emily to connect him with a local private lands biologist with our partners at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. That connection led Chase to loop in the landowners he was renting from.
“When opportunities like the Private Lands Open To Sportsmen (PLOTS) program come up, we do our best to make sure our landowners are aware of them so they can choose to take advantage of the financial benefits,” says Chase. “It also allows us the ability to incorporate wildlife habitat in places where it makes sense.” Through the PLOTS program, another 282 acres of perennial habitat were seeded on that land in the spring of 2021.
All told, a simple tweet led to 344 acres of new upland habitat!
With 1,259 acres re-enrolled in PLOTS and 5,851 acres of new public access added because of connections born through social media, a total of 7,110 additional acres are available for public access. Curt Francis, east region supervisor with North Dakota Game and Fish, notes that by “working with partners such as Pheasants Forever, not only do they get quality wildlife habitat on the ground, but their connections can lead to increased enrollment in PLOTS and ultimately more hunting access for sportsmen and women.”
This story originally appeared in the 2021 Fall Issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and would like to be the first to read more great upland content like this, become a Pheasants Forever member today!