Pheasants Forever adds Two New Farm Bill Range/Wildlife Biologists in Washington State

   01.29.12

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever announce the hiring of two new Farm Bill Range/Wildlife Biologists in Washington, representing the first Pheasant Forever biologists of this kind for the state. Kelli Bartholomew will cover Douglas, Grant, Lincoln, Kittitas, Yakima and Benton counties, while Erik Lewis will cover a significant portion of Washington east of the Cascade Mountains, with an emphasis on the Channel Scablands. These biologists will work with area landowners, farmers and ranchers to implement wildlife habitat conservation measures. Kelli will focus her efforts at fulfilling the NRCS Sage Grouse Initiative, while Erik will focus his efforts on the Wetlands Reserve Program in eastern Washington.

The Sage-Grouse Initiative targets program delivery within high sage grouse abundance centers or ‘core areas’ to help maintain large and intact grazing lands. This new ‘conservation triage’ approach enables NRCS to prioritize conservation program implementation in the right places to expect a positive sage grouse population-level response. In 2011, Pheasants Forever was selected to manage Sage Grouse Initiative funds in building field delivery, scientific knowledge, as well as a communications capacity for the NRCS Sage-Grouse Initiative.

Kelli Bartholomew will be located in Ephrata and act as a Range and Wildlife Conservationist. Bartholomew graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2004 with a degree in biology. Prior to joining Pheasants Forever, she worked as a Restoration Biologist for Mississippi Valley Conservancy (MVC), and the U.S. Forest and Wildlife Service in eastern Wisconsin. With the MVC, she assisted with land management on MVC properties including prescribed fire and weed management. While working with the USFWS, she was the acting Private Lands Biologist for the Partners Program in six western Wisconsin counties. Bartholomew’s experience also includes extensive land management experience including weed management, bison research, vegetation monitoring, and education/outreach. Bartholomew’s position was made possible by a partnership between Pheasants Forever, the U.S. Forest and Wildlife Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Intermountain West Joint Venture and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Bartholomew can be reached at 509-731-5502 or via Email.

“NRCS is excited about working with Pheasants Forever to increase landowner participation in the Sage Grouse Initiative,” said Lacey Gaw, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Programs. “This is a great example of collaborative efforts between agencies and organizations.”

Erik Lewis will be located in Spokane and act as a Wetlands Reserve Program Biologist for Pheasants Forever. Originally from Middleton, Ohio, Lewis has spent the past five years as a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist in southwest Ohio. During that time he worked extensively with USDA Farm Bill Conservation Programs such as CRP, WRP, WHIP, EQIP, and CSP. His depth of experience in these programs made him a perfect fit to break ground in Washington as one of the organization’s inaugural Farm Bill Wildlife Biologists.  This position is funded by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to focus on delivery of the NRCS Wetlands Reserve Program in eastern Washington. Lewis can be reached at 937-654-3884 or via Email.

“The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is excited about partnering with Pheasants Forever to expand the partnership with NRCS Farm Bill programs,” said Nate Pamplin, Assistant Director of WDFW. “This collaboration will help landowners conserve valuable wetlands in eastern Washington.”

“Collaborative partnerships such as this one leads to a true win-win for resource agencies and private landowners,” says Sam Lawry, Pheasants Forever’s Western Farm Bill Coordinator, “We are looking forward to the great things both Erik and Kelli are going to accomplish.”

Pheasants Forever’s Farm Bill Wildlife Biologists work to provide technical assistance to farmers and ranchers—through one-on-one consulting—regarding the benefits of conservation programs (such as the Conservation Reserve Program). By working with landowners to develop and implement individual wildlife management plans, these biologists represent Pheasants Forever’s on-the-ground efforts in ensuring landowners are aware of conservation program options. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever initiated the Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist Program in 2003 with 4 positions, and it has since grown to 98 partnership positions located in 17 states.

Washington is home to 10 Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever chapters and over 1,400 Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever members. For more information regarding Pheasants Forever’s Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist program or the Sage Grouse Initiative, please contact Sam Lawry, Pheasants Forever’s Western Farm Bill Biologist Coordinator, at (406) 552-5052 / Email Sam.

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 130,000 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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