Utilizing Partners to Manage Wildlife Habitat on Private Lands
Public funding and Conservation Dollars for Private Landowners
The art and science of managing wildlife populations under anthropogenic stress is a collective effort for the public good. Under the North American Model of Wildlife Management, wildlife is a public resource and held by the public through state and federal governments. In other words, you can own land but not the wildlife on it. We need to remind ourselves this model of wildlife management is uniquely American, provides ample hunting opportunity, and is in direct contrast to many other places around the world where wildlife is privately controlled. Our way of doing it is also the envy of the world.
Tale of Two Lands
Although the U.S. is approximately 75% private, the distribution of private ownership isn’t even across the Country. Look at the map above, the blue represents private land and tan public land. The East and the West were not created equal when it comes to private land/public land coverage. In the eastern half of the U.S. public lands are scarce. In the West vast tracts of public land exist with much less landmass constituting private lands.
COSTS and EXPERTISE
WHO CAN HELP ME AS A LANDOWNER WITH FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL HELP
Most landowners turn to their state wildlife agencies first, and for good reason. Most, if not all, state wildlife agencies have a position who specializes in working with landowners for wildlife habitat management. Other state agencies who could assist landowners might be Departments of water quality and departments of agriculture who have landowner specialists.
Sometimes having the federal government on your land to collaborate on land management can be a scary thought. It doesn’t need to be. Many federal programs exist solely to improve land, water, soils, and wildlife. The two I suggest most commonly to landowners is the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (PFW). NRCS and PFW’s sole purpose is to work with landowners for the health of land and wildlife. Both have wildlife biologists, soil experts, and land management planners who can help you plan and fund wildlife conservation on your private lands.
Non-government organizations (NGO’s) are organizations who are not made up of government employees. Most of them are non-profits focused on conservation and working with others to accomplish habitat conservation and wildlife management. Because they aren’t the government, some people feel more comfortable initiating contact and inviting them to their property. The list could really go on-and-on with NGO’s. What we’ll do here is list some of the bigger ones to cover a range of habitats and focuses. Trout Unlimited, Pheasants and Quail Forever, National Deer Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Audubon Society, National Turkey Federation, Whitetails Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Mule Deer Foundation.