For the Birds 20 Years out of Range




2014 2013 2012 2011


SportDOG Brand® Conservation Fund has awarded $20,000 to 4 conservation groups as part of its annual grant program, and another $1,000 for the newly created Kids in Conservation. "We received 22 grant applications this year for our grant program and another 12 for our Kids in Conservation Grant, the most since we started the programs," said Eleanor Marshall, with SportDOG Brand. "The variety of projects and the creative ways that organizations are finding to improve and restore wildlife habitat makes the selection process inspiring for all of us at SportDOG. We are really proud to be associated with these conservation difference-makers." Grant recipients are chosen by the Conservation Fund Grant Review committee, and are based on which projects most align with SportDOG Brand's conservation goals. We're excited about being able to contribute to these types of projects that will benefit wildlife for generations to come.

In 2011, grants were awarded as follows:

  1. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources -

    The IDNR will receive $5,000 to assist with the purchase of a tree-cutting tool for the expansion and maintenance of grassland and old-field habitat on the IDNR's Salamonie Reservoir property. More than 1,200 acres are in need of succession control for the benefit of woodcock and upland birds and animals.

    This tree cutter will allow the IDNR to treat more acres of overgrown habitat that are not currently treatable with present tools. Small trees and large shrubs will be cut to promote early-successional habitat. Projects that are implemented with this tool will include clearing the fields adjacent to wetlands for waterfowl nesting, cutting alder stands to improve habitat for American woodcocks, tree-cutting in over-grown fields to increase grassland and old-field habitat for rabbits and quails, maintenance of fire lanes for controlled burns, and invasive species removal in upland game areas.

  2. Pheasants Forever and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers -

    Pheasants Forever will receive $5,000 for a habitat reclamation project in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. 50 years ago, a flood control project, the Francis E. Walter Dam, left 250 acres of barren land in the area. Working together, PF and the Corps now have a goal of restoring native plant life to the area, creating viable habitat and food sources for wildlife, and providing a quality experience for visitors to the project site. Click here for more.

    UPDATE: A record spring rainfall caused a 3 week delay in planting season in Northern Pennsylvania. Despite this set back, these organizations were able to move quickly after the fields and topsoil pits dried out enough to have hundreds of tons of topsoil delivered and spread on the most barren project areas. Six inches of compressed topsoil provided a base for 3 different food plants, measuring around 2 acres each.

    The construction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control project of Francis E. Walter Dam, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, began in 1957 and was completed in 1961. Its construction required a vast amount of topsoil to be excavated from approximately 250 acres of Army Corps property which comprises the current project site, open to public access for recreation and hunting opportunities. This area that was stripped of topsoil remains fallow with little to no herbaceous growth and is referred to as a borrow area. The borrow area has reduced land which was once farm fields, pastures, and woodland meadows to a moonscape of barren, rocky, hardpan subsoil. This land was no longer suitable for the support of native plants and wildlife.

    Nearly 50 years later, little has changed. The areas stripped of topsoil remain essentially barren, except for the encroachment of invasive plant species, scrub pine, scrub birch, and weeds. Few of the native plants capable of providing any habitat or food value for wildlife exist in these borrow areas.

    About three years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers at Francis Walter and Pheasants Forever, Chapter 803, started working together with shared goals. The goals were to restore native plant life to barren areas, to create viable habitat and food sources for all animal life, and to provide a quality experience for those who enjoy the forests, fields, and wildlife on the Army Corps of Engineers project site. The following wildlife habitat restoration and management plan was developed.

    The overall goal of this project is to provide native grasses, shrubs, trees and food plots that will enhance shelter and increase brooding and nesting opportunities for all upland species. It will also control erosion, improve soil quality, and limit the encroachment of invasive plant species. This will hopefully increase the number of nesting pheasants and other upland game birds to provide more positive dog training and hunting experiences to the several gun dog clubs that use the project area.

    Both organizations also hope to increase the quality of hunting opportunities for young, beginning hunters who have been enrolled in mentored youth pheasant hunts with trained bird dogs over the last several years. These hunts are sponsored by North East Pennsylvania Pheasants Forever in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

  3. Ruffed Grouse Society -

    RGS will receive $5,000 to put toward restoring a ruffed grouse population in Missouri's River Hills Conservation Opportunity Area in Callaway, Montgomery, and Warren counties. The current scarce grouse numbers in the area will be supplemented with 120-180 captured and relocated grouse from Pennsylvania.

    Ruffed Grouse were stocked in Missouri from 1959-1962 in appropriate habitat locations. These stockings were successful and populations expanded in the state for the next 40 years, with a ruffed grouse hunting season occurring in the state for many of those years. In the early 1990s, grouse populations began to decrease as available habitat matured and essential early successional forest habitat was lost.

    In 2000, a group of partners that included the Missouri Department of Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Ruffed Grouse Society, and others organized to address this habitat decline. Management activities to maintain the young forest habitat component, specifically the oak-hickory type, in a three-county area in East Central Missouri were implemented on state and private lands. The majority of these targeted lands included or were adjacent to state conservation areas, identified as the potential core areas for the project. To date, over 10,000 acres of habitat have been improved in the project area through a variety of funding avenues.

    Monitoring of bird populations in the area showed an increase in songbird numbers, but grouse numbers remain very low and were not responding to habitat improvements. Due to the low residual Ruffed Grouse population in Missouri, an emergency closure to the Ruffed Grouse season was imposed by the Missouri Department of Conservation during the 2010 season. It has been determined that restocking of Ruffed Grouse from other states is needed to recharge this population. This project will restock 120-180 Ruffed Grouse from Pennsylvania to supplement a scarce residual population of native grouse in the River Hills Conservation Opportunity Area.

  4. Pheasants Forever and Future Farmers of America -

    Pheasants Forever will receive $5,000 to launch a curriculum with the Leopold Education Project entitled Operation: Save the Quail. 6th grade students will participate in various initiatives to build a curriculum to spread the goals of this project to educational systems throughout the United States. The initial class of Operation: Save the Quail won a national award from the Disney Planet Challenge Contest.

    Pheasants Forever is working with the Leopold Education Project to create a guide on how to work with schools, local Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever chapters, and other partners on similar community habitat projects that also meet curriculum standards for middle school students. This guide will be incorporated into training workshops and conferences for outreach partners and will be distributed through the Leopold Education Project's network of educators and chapter leaders. Ultimately, the goal of this project is to create school habitat projects across the country.

  5. *YOUTH GRANT*The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation (TWRF) -

    TWRF has been awarded $1,000 to further the Tennessee Kids in Outdoors (TKO) Program. TWRA founded the TKO program in 2010 with the goal of encouraging youths to get outside and enjoy learning about nature.

    Too many of today's youths are not connected to the land. It is important to keep future generations engaged in the outdoors and in outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing. With this in mind, the TWRA introduced the Tennessee Kids in Outdoors program in 2010. Piloted in Middle Tennessee, the program has already assisted over 5,000 youths in getting away from their television sets and going outside.

    In 2011, TWRF looks to expand the program state wide. The agency has partnered with various organizations, including SportDOG, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, Cumberland Rivers Compact, and many city and county agencies to provide funding and education related to outdoor youth activities. These events include: Fishing days, youth squirrel, rabbit, deer and dove hunts, NWTF Jakes days, and many other events. Through state-wide expansion, TKO hopes to assist many more children get outside to learn about habitat conservation and outdoor sporting and recreation.

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