Be our guest: Cooperating for Wildlife Habitat and Forest Health
By the Golden Sands Resource Conservation & Development Council
Urban sprawl into the country is creating smaller plots of land and the need for neighbors to interact on a regular basis to disband misconceptions about forest management, and for Wood County resident James Patrick, the answer has come from a federal pilot project through Golden Sands Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council.
The project connects landowners for better wildlife habitat, land management and networking with neighbors and state and federal resource specialists through the creation of cooperatives.The RC&D established 10 area cooperatives that cover more than 10,000 acres in eight counties, including Wood, through a federal pilot project that used the state’s Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) as a foundation for the groups. The project targeted individual pockets of landowners to form the cooperatives.
Golden Sands RC&D Executive Director Joshua Benes, who also serves as project coordinator, helped organize landowners into group cooperatives of 640 acres or more, which qualified the lands for a Level 3 designation, allowing landowners to receive site visits from Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife biologists and foresters. Landowners are then provided personalized recommendations for their property for how they can improve wildlife habitat and ensure the growth of a healthy forest.
“Seeing what your neighbor has been able to do often spreads good practices,” Patrick said. “If you provide a home for the native wildlife, they may come and live near you, too. The result of being able to watch wild things without interfering with their lives can provide many hours of enjoyment and pictures to share with others… and change the impression of best management of the environment.”
For Patrick, a key recommendation coming out of a meeting with Benes and DNR biologists addressed combining logging operations for necessary harvests on smaller plots and general best practices.
In April and May, there will be three workshops on Saturdays at the Mead Wildlife Education and Visitor Center, 2148 County Highway S, Milladore, that will share information about the project and strategies for other landowners looking to work together. Workshops will begin at 9:30 a.m. and include lunch.
The April 18 workshop will focus on cooperating for wildlife habitat. The May 2 workshop will focus on cooperating for invasive species control. The May 30 workshop will focus on cooperating for forest management.
To register or learn more, visit www.goldensandsrcd.org/woodsandwildlifeworkshops or call 715-343-6215, Ext. 707.