For most upland hunters, the loss or degradation of natural habitat ranks among their gravest concerns. Many of us have experienced the depressing reality of returning to a treasured covert and seeing a productive hunting ground slowly transitioning into an unproductive or unhuntable plot. Worse is when we’ve seen these beloved spots destroyed entirely.
The Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society (RGS/AWS) in a new partnership with the Association of Consulting Foresters (ACF) aims to change this. Together they are working to restore and protect habitat for ruffed grouse, woodcock and songbirds. While many sportsmen are familiar with the work of the RGS/AWS, they may be unaware of the ACF. The ACF’s members are independent professionals who manage forests and market forest products to help private woodland owners enhance property values, increase timber values, produce more sustainable timber harvests, establish and protect families’ forest legacies and—of special importance to wingshooters—enhance wildlife habitat.
In their new partnership, both organizations have begun focusing efforts on the Pennsylvania Wilds and Laurel Highlands, with a goal of expanding their work to the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. This work has practical as well as conservation applications. According to Ashley Peters, RGS/AWS Director of Communications and Marketing, “Our funding will enable foresters and landowners who are implementing commercial forest management and timber harvesting to also do some non-commercial management while loggers are on the tracts. For example, this includes thinning stands that normally wouldn’t have enough volume of timber for conventional, commercial timber harvests.
Conservation challenges are often too immense, too complex and too expensive for any one organization. Hopefully this and other collaborations will ensure a leafy and healthy future.