Effective prairie conservation requires a collaborative effort among a wide variety of interests, including ecologists, naturalists, birdwatchers, ranchers, educators, hunters, and others. Each of these might approach prairie conservation from a different perspective, but they have more in common than you might expect.
People outside Nebraska might be surprised to learn that one of the strongest forces for prairie conservation in our state is Pheasants Forever. Pheasants Forever, along with its sister organization Quail Forever, is helping protect, restore, and manage prairies in multiple ways, including:
– Private lands biologists (17) who work with landowners on habitat projects, providing both advice and access to federal, state, and private cost-share assistance.
– Promoting and facilitating the use of prescribed fire across the state by providing equipment and training opportunities, helping to establish and coordinate prescribed fire associations, and organizing landowner tours to showcase the value of prescribed fire.
– Promoting the use of, and helping to provide, diverse native seed mixtures for habitat restoration/improvement projects.
– Organizing workshops and field tours on habitat management, prairie restoration, plant identification, and pollinator conservation.
The man who has provided most of the energy for these efforts for more than 20 years is Pete Berthelsen, who has just stepped into a new role for Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever; the Director of Habitat Partnerships. He is now charged with taking the kinds of habitat partnerships and statewide habitat programs he helped develop in Nebraska and replicating those programs across the organization at the national level.