Driftless Region Healthy Forests Workshop Report


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2nd Annual Landowner Workshop Targets Young Forests in the Driftless Area

Maturing forests have led to long-term population declines for ruffed grouse and other young forest wildlife in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois.  Local landowners who remember grouse being a common sight as recently as the 1990s, and hunters who remember 40 plus flushes per day, are keenly interested in in the reasons for this decline and in exploring conservation actions to help address the issue.

On Saturday, September 26th, an energetic group of landowners came together on the Tim & Linda Eisele property in Crawford County, WI to learn more about the grouse decline and what they might do to improve the health and diversity of their woodland acres.  The event, co-sponsored by the Ruffed Grouse Society, U.S. Fish and Widlife Service, Pheasants Forever, Kickapoo Woods Cooperative, Wisconsin DNR, Aldo Leopold Foundation, and Southwest Badger Resource Conservation & Development Council, brought together 27 landowners representing over 3,250 acres of the Driftless Region landscape.

After some early morning coffee- brewed by Linda over an open fire- attendees were led through a series of morning presentations on the management history of Tim and Linda’s property, ruffed grouse ecology, local forest ecology and trends, forest tax laws, and financial and technical assistance programs.  Following lunch, an afternoon walk allowed attendees to see and discuss the results of past management actions on the property and to help identify opportunities for future work.  Lively discussions throughout the day reflected an intense interest in land stewardship and the future of the region’s aging forest community.  The vast majority of the Driftless Region’s forests are privately held; educating landowners about forest ecology and the value of active forest management, and putting them in touch with sources of technical and financial assistance will be important to efforts to enhance forest diversity and the region’s ability to support young forest wildlife.

RGS biologist Scott Walter presentation
RGS/AWS Regional Wildlife Biologist Scott Walter discusses ruffed grouse ecology and habitat needs with workshop attendees.

Through such workshops, RGS staff work to ensure that our mission of “Healthy Forests, Abundant Wildlife, and Sporting Traditions” is promoted on the ground, by landowners and managers who make daily decisions important to the health of future forests and the wildlife and recreational opportunities they support.

Mission Statement

Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is North America's foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS works with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.

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