Partnering for Wildlife

Each year, resource agencies receive an increasing number of requests from landowners for assistance with wildlife habitat practices. Many of these requests come from folks who have purchased land for non-agricultural uses and need help obtaining equipment and technical information to carry out their wildlife enhancement projects.

Wildlife professionals have long realized that providing landowners with access to farming implements could greatly benefit wildlife populations. However, there have been obstacles. These have included funding for the purchase, storage, operation and maintenance of equipment, as well as scheduling, record keeping, and other administrative duties.

In recognition of the growing need for assistance, several Wright County agencies pooled resources and ideas to see what could be accomplished. From this, a unique partnership was formed: the Wright County Open Land Habitat Enhancement Project. Partners in the project include the Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (MCHF), and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

When partners pool assets

The Wright County Open Land Habitat Enhancement Project was designed to make equipment and knowledgeable personnel available to private landowners who have a strong interest in wildlife management. These landowners have a significant impact on depressed and dwindling wildlife populations especially.

The project focuses on, but is not limited to, developing early succession habitat, which is a vital, yet often missing requirement for brood rearing and nesting of bobwhite quail, wild turkey and other small game. The lack of this type of cover is a major contributing factor in the sharp decline of bobwhite quail and a host of other wildlife species.

By combining all partners’ resources, a “one-stop shop” program was developed. To date, the partnership has purchased a four-wheel drive tractor with front-end loader, a 4x4 ATV, a brush hog, spraying equipment, broadcast seeders, offset and three-point discs, and chemical and planting materials, all to assist landowners in their habitat enhancement projects. By tapping into all partners’ assets, the group has been able to provide wildlife habitat work with minimal cost and labor passed on to the landowner.

The plan goes public

As a kick-off event for the project, a Demonstration Field Day was held at the Steven Whittaker property just outside of Hartville. Attendees learned about several different early succession habitat practices, including:

  • Prescribed burning, along with proper techniques of mowing and disking firebreaks.
  • Light strip disking to improve brood rearing habitat for