RGS History 2000's

The 2000's -- Full Force Drumming Continues...



The Ruffed Grouse Society’s roots are in the mountains. The organization, founded in the small Virginia town of Monterey, in the mountainous country near the West Virginia border, was granted a Virginia charter dated October 24, 1961 as The Ruffed Grouse Society of America.

RGS continues to adapt to meet the new demands of a "smaller" world. New leadership is again taking RGS ahead with new plans and initiatives.

What RGS can accomplish in the future, however, will owe much to past investments and achievements, especially those of the last 40 plus years, almost a half century of building on the principles of sound science and commonsense forest management. 

2000 and Beyond

With the Partners in Conservation endowment almost secured, the Society hires three additional regional wildlife biologists, Paul F. Karczmarczyk, C. Adam Bump, and Gary Zimmer; fully staffing the planned total of five positions and greatly expanding the Society’s ability to advocate for forest wildlife and sport hunting.

Continuing to reach out to industrial forest owners, in May the Ruffed Grouse Society signs a memorandum of understanding with American Electric Power (AEP) in Ohio. AEP owns more than 200,000 acres of forest in seven midwestern states.

The Ruffed Grouse Society takes another significant step forward in defense of science-based wildlife management by filing as a “friend of the court” in support of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in a lawsuit that has national implications. The suit, filed by the Sierra Club against the DNR and the Service, if successful, will severely curtail the establishment of habitats required by ruffed grouse, woodcock, golden-winged warblers and many other species of forest wildlife.

Sam Pursglove resigns as RGS executive director effective Dec. 31, 2001.

Assuming the executive director’s duties on an interim basis is Robert L. Patterson, Jr.

On March 6, a federal judge in Michigan releases his decision, upholding the position of the Society and its partners in the suit brought by the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club’s claims are dismissed.

Robert L. Patterson, Jr. becomes Executive Director August 1, 2002.

Continued development of RGS' role in the legal defense of forest management practices beneficial to young-forest habitat. Involvement helps to produce favorable judicial decisions related to the Bark Camp Timber Sale on the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia and for the East Side Project on the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. RGS filed a "friend of the court" brief relative to aspen regeneration on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. In other efforts to promote forests for all, RGS was involved in assisting the Bush administration in ultimately passing the President's Healthy Forests Restoration Act.

Professionally designed website is published in June.

Various cumulative giving levels created and the highest level named in honor of "Mr. Grouse", Gordon Gullion. The top level is the Gullion Circle, for those who have donated $250,000 or more. First inductees are Gary T. Martin and Denis Karnosky. There are three rings for Life Sponsors to strive for as they make greater contributions on behalf of their favorite birds: over $25,000, Bronze Maple Ring; over $50,000, Silver Birch Ring; and the Golden Aspen Ring from $100,000 to $249,999.99. From least to greatest, there are 18, 11, 7, and 12 donors reported in the annual Report to Sponsors.

First full-color Annual Report to Sponsors.

Society receives $800,000 gift from Richard King Mellon Foundation and $250,000 from Edwin H. Gott, Jr., former president of the national board of directors.

Mark Fouts and William Klein promoted to senior regional director.

Further positive decisions received relative to Bark Camp and East Side Projects.

Several significant RGS supporters passed away: Jim Foote, whose many art donations have provided our sportsman's banquets with beautiful artwork, James Kiggen, former national director, and William L. Searle, head of a family of some of RGS' strongest supporters.

Years of intensive grouse studies culminated in a special conference on the Appalachian Cooperative Grouse Research Project (ACGRP). RGS provided more than $130,000 to this Project that resulted in data on nearly 3,000 grouse from eight Appalachian states from 1996 through 2000. Management suggestions can be found in the report hilited under Research on the the Ruffed Grouse Facts page of this website.

American Wildlife Conservation Partners, including RGS biologists, meet with Gale Norton, Secretary of the US Department of Interior in a day long meeting to address issues of critical importance to America's wildlife resources and America's hunters.

Jim Foote Sustaining Artist Award established by the national board of directors; who also named Jim posthumously as the first recipient. Nick Steen, Alaska, awarded Gordon W. Gullion Award for career achievement in the practice and promotion of forest ecology and management for the benefit of ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other forest wildlife. RGS established a parallel award, the RGS Greg Sepik Award, to honor natural resource professionals who have furthered the cause of woodcock conservation. Dan McAuley earned the honor for his groundbreaking woodcock research and the ability to transform science into on-the-ground habitat management, emulating Greg's work at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, Calais, Maine.

Annual Report to Sponsors published only as PDF file, with photocopies only to 2005 sponsors who requested such.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while causing extensive damage and loss of human life, are a reminder of the power of nature and of one of the few natural causes of early successional habitat for woodcock and other species of wildlife.

New contributions result in 24, 13,  and 5 donors, respectively, within the Bronze Maple, Silver Birch and Golden Aspen Rings and 14 at the ulitmate level of Gullion Circle.

RGS experienced the loss of two more long time RGS supporters with the passing of artist Ray 'Paco' Young and volunteer Gilbert R. Symons, one of the founders and keys to the Cincinnati, OH chapter renamed the Gilbert R. Symons Chapter, long before his death.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation approves RGS
as a specialty license plate for PA registered vehicles.
Get the application.

Dr. Michael D. Zagata is appointed Executive Director & CEO. RGS undergoes strategic planning process. New logo is unveiled, including the American woodcock for the first time. Totally redesigned website is published, boasting many new interactive features, including real-time woodcock migration mapping, hunting reports, photo gallery, trade-a-hunt, online classified ads and much more.

National board of director's elects Terry Wilson, Bruce Ogle and Larry Brutger to the board. After S. Prosser Mellon stepped down as a director he was appointed Director Emeritus for his many years of service and in recognition of his importance to helping RGS reach many of its financial goals. Mr. Mellon joined past directors T. Stanton Armour, Sally B. Searle and David V. Uihlein in this distinguished honor.

RGS raffles Parker 28 gauge shotgun won in early 2007 by Joe Switala, Pennsylvania.

Life Sponsors continue to increase their contributions so that 28, 11, 7, and 15 are now part of the Bronze Maple, Silver Birch, and Golden Aspen Rings and the Gullion Circle, respectively.

Dan Dessecker, senior RGS wildlife biologist, selected as one of 12 members of newly created Sporting Conservation Council, an advisory group to the US Departments of Agriculture and Interior. He was also selected to chair a subcommittee charged with recommending policies or programs to maintain and restore forest, rangeland and wetland habitats.

RGS one of nearly 40 sporting conservation groups to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with officials representing three federal agencies. This will develop and expand a framework of cooperation between the organizations and the US Forest Service for planning and implementing projects and activities related to hunting, fishing and shooting sports conducted on federal lands.

RGS and public and private partners develop the Pennsylvania Woodcock Habitat Initiative on State Land (PA WHISL).

RGS' Dessecker coordinated the development of the Ruffed Grouse Conservation Plan by the Resident Game Bird Working Group of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

Under Broken Wings, a program to provide youth between 14 and 18, who have a disability, the chance to experience a hunt for forest game birds was launched by volunteers at the National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt in Grand Rapids, MN. Casey Newman of Hibbing, MN and family participated as the first recipient.

RGS' board approved two recipients of the Jim Foote Sustaining Artist Award: John A. Ruthven, Cincinnati, OH for his years of fine, exclusive donations to the RGS Gilbert R. Symons Chapter centered on the Cincinnati area; and Brian Jarvi, Grand Rapids, MN for his contributions of art to the Grand Rapids, MN Chapter for its local events and for the National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt that they host.


Closing the chapter on RGS' Sponsor Print program, the final sponsor print is painted by Bob Bertram.

2007 Sponsor Print, "Keeping the Tradition Alive" by Bob Bertram
Keeping the Tradition Alive by Bob Bertram

Retired RGS regional director William H. Goudy, one of the nation's woodcock experts and long-time employee and friend, passed away only days after surgery.

RGS participation as intervenor in 2006 results in partial victory for tradition uses on Green Mountain National Forest.

Second Parker raffle won by Seth Cosans, Delaware and the 2008 Chevy Tahoe raffle was won by Jim Chase, Michigan.

After RGS member and staff input over the last decade has been frustrated by lengthy buraeucratic processes and policies calling for less and less forest habitat management, nature in the form of a F3 tornado, another natural windstorm, impacts 14,400 acres in Wisconsin, including approximately 6,800 acres in the Lakewood/Laona Ranger District of the Chequamegon/Nicolet National Forest creating more potential grouse and woodcock aspen-based habitat in minutes than were being harvested annually on the forest.

Leon 'Joe' Chandler, Alaska is elected to the Society's national board of director's.

Bryan Knight, Anchorage, AK is the second participant in Under Broken Wings attending the National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt.

Richard King Mellon Foundation again supports RGS providing a $166,000 grant to buy a CAT multi-terrain loader and attachments to allow regeneration of shrub and small tree habitats.

Mark Banker is promoted to senior regional biologist and Mark Fouts is appointed Director of Regional Operations, overseeing all regional director activity as well as his own banquet responsibilities. Dan Dessecker, formerly senior RGS wildlife biologist was selected to fill the new RGS Director of Conservation Policy position.

RGS Grouse Trail Mix created and offered for sale to landowners and land managers to plant on woodland trails and log landings and to vegetate industrial rights of way.

Bronze Maple Ring donors reaches 32, with 12 at the Silver Birch level.

Remington unveiled its 2007 Conservation Gun of the Year; the special Premier O/U 20 gauge which it made available for sale throughout 2008.

Remington RGS Conservation Gun of the Year

Remington RGS Conservation Shotgun of the Year for 2008

The national directors select a second posthumous winner of the Jim Foote Sustaining Artist Award, honoring Ray 'Paco' Young, who before his untimely death, supported RGS with gifts of art and his presence at various national and local events.

RGS magazine features new regular centerfold feature, providing an opportunity to explore in detail the elements of young-forest habitat throughout grouse and woodcock range.

Annual Sponsor Print changed to Print of the Year. The first painting is "Autumn Encounter" by Daniel Cliburn is a signed and numbered limited edition used as one option to entice members to sign up as sponsors at local sportsman's banquets.

Autumn Encounter by Daniel Cliburn
RGS Print of the Year for 2008, Autumn Encounter by Daniel Cliburn, Covington, Georgia.

William B. 'Butch' Johnson and Jim Hayett, both of Wisconsin, John C. Oliver, South Carolina, and George S. Rich, Maryland are elected to the national board of directors.

Michael D. Zagata, executive director and CEO of the Ruffed Grouse Society, inducted into the New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame.

Dan Dessecker, Director of Conservation Policy, continues to lead within the Sporting Conservation Council as they crafted recommendations for the mid-September White House Conference on Wildlife Conservation. Dessecker chaired the work group developing recommendations designed to enhance habitat for game wildlife on our National Forests and other federal lands.

Restoring Upland Forests' Future (RUFF) capital campaign launched, to raise $5 million dollars to fully endow RGS' team of wildlife biologists, with several major gifts leading to $2.1 million dollars contributed or pledged by year end.

Paul Carson retires after 26 plus years at the helm of the Society's major membership publication, RGS magazine, formerly The Drummer. Gary Zimmer is promoted to senior regional biologist and with several large gifts to the RUFF campaign to specifically endow his position is now the Sally B. Searle Senior Regional Biologist.

Brittany Zebrasky and her family attended the NGWH as the third selection of the Under Broken Wings program.


Autumn Delight by Beorgette Kanach
RGS Print of the Year for 2009, Autumn Delight painted by Georgette Kanach, Gray, Maine.

RGS website gets another major overhaul with an improved membership database, RGS-Mart (online store), RGS Forums and members-only areas.

Brett Sopocy and his father attended the NGWH as the fourth selection of the Under Broken Wings program.

After the 1977 restructuring that ushered in a new era, RGS fills a unique niche in the conservation world. No other organization dedicates itself to the improvement of forest wildlife habitat, and does so by actively seeking partnerships with those who have primary responsibility for the forests, including both public land managers and private landowners. At the core of the Society’s philosophy is that forests can be managed by science-based methods that benefit both the forests and the wildlife species that live within them.

At 45 years old in 2006, and with the last quarter-century a time of the Ruffed Grouse Society’s growing in complexity to meet the mounting challenges of forest wildlife habitat conservation, there have been remarkable changes. But what hasn’t changed is the attitude that started the whole thing.

“For all of us, it was a labor of love,” said Bruce Richardson, RGS’ first president, many years ago.

It remains so today.

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Created February 3, 2011
Rev. February 24, 2012


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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