In an announcement at the end of February, the leaders of Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever unveiled a national campaign of epic scale and a challenge to the organization’s more than 138,000 members. With its Call of the Uplands campaign, PF/QF intends to raise $500 million in its first comprehensive national effort to cultivate the next generation of conservationists, enhance more than 9 million acres of upland habitat and permanently protect 75,000 acres of land. The campaign is also a clarion call that should ring with sportsmen and conservationists across the country: We are losing wildlife habitat at an unprecedented rate; bird numbers in general and gamebird numbers in particular are in free-fall.
According to PF/QF President and CEO Howard Vincent: “It is our strategic and visionary plan to reverse the tides of disappearing upland habitat and grasslands across North America. The uplands are some of the most threatened places on the planet, but we still have a chance to reclaim them. This campaign is about Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever rising to that challenge.”
Known for its grassroots founding and its hyper-local program effectiveness—with more than 90 percent of revenues spent on habitat projects and public awareness and education—PF/QF has a track record of priority habitat conservation and hunter recruitment and education. Since forming in 1982, Pheasants Forever has created or enhanced wildlife habitat on about 19 million acres across the US and Canada. Yet even as the largest bloc of upland-gamebird enthusiasts in the country, the group’s efforts pale before the challenges it cites, which can appear as inexorable as the tides: Since 2009, the Great Plains have lost more than 53 million acres of grasslands—an area the size of Kansas—to human development. Of the 90 million acres of longleaf pine woodlands that were historically the ecological heartland of the Southeast, less than 3 percent remains. Northern bobwhite quail and pheasant numbers are in decades-long decline as habitat is lost.
In a similar timespan, Baby Boomers have enjoyed an era of bird hunting that may set the high-water mark while also amassing an unprecedented wealth of assets and land that could contribute to a legacy of reversing habitat loss and hunter decline.
For more information on Call of the Uplands, visit pheasantsforever.org.