Saint Paul, Minn. – June 27, 2011 – Pheasants Forever and the Minnesota Sharp-tailed Grouse Society have, with the help of a grant recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, finalized the acquisition of a 1,285-acre parcel in Kanabec County. The property, now permanently protected habitat for wildlife, including sharp-tailed grouse, will be turned over to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and opened to public hunting and outdoor recreation as a Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

The unique property, a former cattle ranch, represents a core area for Kanabec County’s sharp-tailed grouse populations, and will act as a permanent habitat for sharptails – an open land dependent species – and other brushland species, including several species state-listed as endangered, threatened or of special concern. The property is adjacent to the Kroschel Wildlife Management Area, and will be turned over to the state for inclusion in its WMA system for habitat restoration and enhancements. Additionally, the Pheasants Forever – Minnesota Sharp-tailed Grouse Society – Minnesota DNR habitat partnership is funding the initial restoration and enhancements on the property beginning this summer, and the area will be open to the public soon after.

“This parcel is the best open land habitat surrounding the Kroschel WMA in Kanabec County, and holds one of the last remaining sharp- tailed grouse populations in Kanabec County. The birds thrive on this property,” says Joe Pavelko, Pheasants Forever’s Director of Conservation in Minnesota, “Furthermore, this flagship project represents a significant partnership towards the long-term sustainability of sharptails, and was made possible with funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which was created by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.”

Although sharptails were once populous, the species has been restricted to northwestern and east central Minnesota due to habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation. Roche Lally, President of the Minnesota Sharp-tailed Grouse Society, stated, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners in this project for joining with Minnesota Sharp-tailed Grouse Society and many other conservation partners to make this acquisition a reality. This purchase would not have been possible were it not for Pheasants Forever’s knowledge and expertise.” The Ruffed Grouse Society and the Natural Resource Club also contributed to the purchase of the 1,285 acre property.

“This exciting and unique partnership of two of Minnesota’s premier upland game bird conservation organizations making such dramatic use of the new Legacy Amendment funding is an extremely positive venture,” said Dave Pauly, DNR Cambridge Area Wildlife Supervisor, “It is providing long-term habitat protection and enhancement of the open-land landscape in the transition zone for a diversity of game and non-game species, many of which are suffering population declines due to significant habitat loss. This initiative is energizing local citizens, private landowners, conservation organizations and agency staff. I look forward to the continued expansion and collaboration of this effort in the southern extension of sharp-tailed grouse range.”

For more information about this project, contact Joe Pavelko, Pheasants Forever’s Director of Conservation in Minnesota, at (612) 532-3800 / Email Joe.

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 135,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent, the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.

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