Archive for the ‘Outdoors’ Category

Minnesota Continues Pheasant Country Trend, 6% Increase in Roadside Survey

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Pheasant Prospectus Map.  Courtesy of Minnesota DNR

Pheasant Prospectus Map. Courtesy of Minnesota DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced today their annual August roadside survey indicated a 6 percent increase in pheasants over last year.  The increase comes in spite of the state’s severe winter and very wet spring.  In fact, heavy rains hit Minnesota’s pheasant range in mid-June during what is normally the peak of the pheasant hatch.

Pheasants Forever joins the Minnesota DNR in its message that habitat continues to pose the biggest threat to the state’s long-term pheasant population.  According to the DNR, the 2014 pheasant index is 58 percent below the 10-year average and 71 percent below the long-term average.  Weather and habitat are the two main factors driving pheasant populations.  Weather leads to annual fluctuations in roadside indices, while available grassland habitat for nesting and brood-rearing drives the longer-term trends.

Like most states in pheasant country, Minnesota has witnessed a large conversion of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands to row crop production in recent years.  In fact, there have been 665,663 acres once enrolled in CRP in Minnesota that have expired from 2007 through 2013.  Most of those acres are no longer in grassland habitat, which is largely responsible for the precipitous decline in the state’s bird numbers from a time just a few years ago when the state set pheasant harvest milestones not experienced in some 60 years.

“Minnesota pheasant hunters should be extremely thankful to have the base of permanently protected Wildlife Management and Waterfowl Production Areas we have in this state,” reported Eran Sandquist, Pheasants Forever’s state coordinator for Minnesota.  “Add 15,380 acres of habitat improved through the Outdoor Heritage Fund and these permanently protected acres are the foundation upon which we can build up our pheasant numbers.”

Related Links

Minnesota DNR 2014 Roadside Survey Results

Minnesota DNR 2014 Prospectus Map

Information on hunting pheasants in Minnesota

PF Projects Earn $30K in SportDOG Brand Grant Contest

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Josh Miller, SportDOG Brand regional sales manager, left, presents the Future Forward Fund grand prize grant to Drew Larsen, Pheasant’s Forever’s national habitat education specialist.

Josh Miller, SportDOG Brand regional sales manager, left, presents the Future Forward Fund grand prize grant to Drew Larsen, Pheasant’s Forever’s national habitat education specialist.

SportDOG Brand has awarded a $25,000 grant to a conservation program created by Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. The conservation groups’ “Youth Pollinator Habitat Program” was created to help pollinating species thrive, and the grant funds will be used to launch five new pollinator projects in 2014. These projects will also provide education opportunities for local youth and community groups.

The grant was part of the SportDOG Conservation Fund’s second annual Future Forward Fund contest in which conservation groups submit project summaries for grant consideration. From a starting field of dozens of entries, a panel narrowed the contenders to six finalists, each of whom submitted videos outlining their projects. The sporting community then voted for the most- deserving projects, with the Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever pollinator program earning the most votes.

A runner-up grant of $5,000 went to the Ashland County (Ohio) Pheasants Forever chapter to be used for habitat-improvement equipment purchases.

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic Show Guide A to Z

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

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National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic runs Friday, February 14th through Sunday, February 16th at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee. In addition to more than 300 exhibitors, there will be seven seminar stages with hourly presentations. The event is presented by MidwayUSA.

Antler sheds. Looking to keep your bird dog busy this offseason? Renowned trainer Tom Dokken is revolutionizing the sport of using dogs to hunt for sheds and presenting at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic.

Benelli has introduced the new Ethos shotgun for 2014, and you can get your first look at it at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic.

ETHOS-Engraved-ReceiverDetail

New for 2014, the Benelli Ethos.

Cabela’s, World’s Foremost Outfitter, longtime Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever supporter, is presenting sponsor of Rudy’s Youth Village at the show.

Delmar Smith. “To train like a pro…you’ve got to think like a dog.” Well, Delmar has 75 years of experience thinking like a dog, and you can catch up with him on the “Ask the Experts” panel at the Bird Dog Bonanza Stage.

Expert dog trainers. When Delmar Smith, Ronnie Smith, Tom Dokken, Jim Moorehouse and Bob West form a panel for you to ask questions, that’s a combined 260 years of dog training know-how. Each day on the Bird Dog Bonanza Stage.

Free, as in wildlife habitat management plan. Stop by the Landowner Habitat Help Room at the show and you can consult with a wildlife professional about conservation options for your property from anywhere in the country.

Griffons. Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are growing in popularity perhaps faster than any other sporting breed. Learn more at the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Club of America booth.

Habitat. Pheasants Forever’s tagline is “The Habitat Organization.” If your passion is improving habitat for pheasants, quail and other wildlife, the Habitat Hall group of exhibitors is a must.

Is your mouth watering? Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are hosting their own “top chefs” at the show, including wild game chefs Tovar Cerulli, author of The Mindful Carnivore  and David Draper of Field and Stream’s The Wild Chef blog.

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See Hank Shaw on the Wild Game Cooking Stage.

J&L Boykins is one of the man bird dog exhibitors at the show. Check out all the bird dog breeds at the Bird Dog Alley.

K9…you can bet there are a couple of exhibitors listed under this letter/number combo.

Life Membership. Make the ultimate commitment to conservation by becoming a Pheasants Forever Life Member. Visit the Pheasants Forever booth by the show floor main entrance.

Missing. If you’re tired of it, then it’s time for a new gun. Check out all the top makers on the show floor: Benelli, Beretta, Browning…

Native grasslands can offer quality nesting cover for pheasants. Come to the Habitat Stage and learn about diversifying and improving this critical habitat.

Outdoor apparel. Start at the Pheasants Forever MarketPlace on the show floor for your Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever-logoed gear. Your product purchases here support wildlife habitat conservation.

Pollinator habitat. What does it have to do with pheasants and quail? Check out the presentations on the Habitat Stage.

Quail are Scott Linden’s favorite bird to hunt. Stop by the Wingshooting USA booth and meet the venerable television host who’s an expert on bobwhite and western quail species.

Rudy the Rooster is Pheasants Forever’s youth mascot. Visit the Youth Village area of the show and get your picture taken with him.

Festfamily

Bird dog breeders and bird dog training seminars are the most popular attractions at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic.

Smith, as in Delmar, Rick and Ronnie. National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic is a rare opportunity to see the three from this legendary dog training family at the same event.

Training. E-Collars. GPS. Pointers. Puppies. Retrievers. Spaniels. If you can name it, you’ll find a how-to on it.

U.S. Bank presents Pheasants Forever’s Visa Card. Stop by their booth, sign up for their card and receive either a hardcover wild game recipe book, a green PF shooters bag or a chance on a Tri-Star Setter 12 gauge shotgun.

Vegan-turned-hunter Tovar Cerulli, author of The Mindful Carnivore, provides a unique perspective on the Wild Game Cooking Stage.

Wingshooting from the good ‘ol days with the L.C. Smith Collectors Association and the Parker Gun Collectors Association.

X marks your next upland hunting spot, and the tourism divisions from the likes of Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, plus regional tourism representatives and guides and outfitters are here help you book your dream trip.

Yum… Hank Shaw is a hunter, chef, blogger and author of Hunt, Gather, Cook – Finding the Forgotten Feast. See him on the Wild Game Cooking Stage.

Zero-turn lawnmowers. Check out Wisconsin-based – and Pheasants Forever national sponsor, Scag Power equipment, one of more than 300 exhibitors at the show.

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

It’s Pheasants Forever Banquet Season

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

FoxRiverbanquet

Photo courtesy of the Fox River Valley (Wis.) Pheasants Forever chapter.

More than two-thirds of the country’s Pheasants Forever chapters hold their annual banquet during the months of February, March and April. These fun gatherings often become the social event of the community and are filled with new shotguns, hunting clothing, decoys, guided hunting trips, and artwork.

If you haven’t ever attended a Pheasants Forever chapter banquet, here’s a sampling of what you can experience.

  • Bird Hunting Fraternity. Ever been in a room with 200 passionate pheasant hunters sharing hunting stories and spinning yarns about their bird dog’s awesomeness? You may want to put on your hip waders because it’s going to get deep in a hurry, but I challenge you to wipe the smile off your face on the ride home.
  • Improved Local Habitat. Pheasants Forever operates through a unique fundraising model that empowers the local chapter volunteers with 100 percent control of the funds they raise through a banquet’s raffles and auctions. What that means to you is improved habitat and hunting opportunities in your local area, as well as improved habitat nationwide through the organization’s policy efforts in Washington, D.C.
  • Improved Hunting Access. In addition to improved habitat, Pheasants Forever chapters help open up millions of acres to public hunting each season. This improved access is primarily accomplished through either the purchase of tracts of land that become public wildlife areas or funding assistance for access programs that open up private acres to public hunting.
  • Meet a New Hunting Buddy. Got a great piece of property, but don’t own a bird dog?  Own a great bird dog, but don’t have many places to hunt?  Maybe you have a youngster at home with an insatiable thirst to learn about bird hunting? Whatever your situation, Pheasants Forever banquets are filled with folks interested in the same things you are – quality habitat, good bird dogs and autumn afternoons filled with flushing roosters.

Find your local Pheasants Forever chapter banquet this spring and you just might take home a new shotgun or meet the best hunting buddy of your life. Either way, we promise your attendance will make a difference for the birds today and a generation of pheasant hunters tomorrow.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Recipe: Pheasant and Black Bean Soup

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

BlackBeanSoup

This spicy soup recipe, though it only takes 30 minutes, has a simmered-all-day taste.

Ingredients

½ lb. boneless pheasant breasts, cut into 1-in. cubes (or smaller)

2 cans (14 ½ oz. each) reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided

1 or 2 cups frozen corn

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (10 oz.) diced tomatoes and green chilies, un-drained

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro

3 tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. ground cumin

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Tortilla chips

Shredded cheese (optional)

Directions

1. Place a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add pheasant, cook and stir 4-6 minutes or until no longer pink. Reserve 2 Tbsp. broth; add remaining broth to pan. Stir in corn, beans, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, chili powder and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.

2. Mix cornstarch and reserved broth until smooth; gradually stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Top with chips and cheese.

Makes 6 servings.

-Recipe courtesy of Carol Durtschi, Pheasants Forever Membership Services. Photo by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever.

Have an upland recipe you’ve been keeping all to yourself? Share and if we post it, you’ll receive Pheasants Forever’s From the Field hardcover recipe book. Contact information below.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

U.S. House Passes Farm Bill

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

The Farm Bill provides critical conservation tools to America's farmers, ranchers and conservationists.

The farm bill provides critical conservation tools to America’s farmers, ranchers and conservationists.

A few minutes ago, by a vote of 251 to 166 the United States House of Representatives passed the Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly known as the farm bill.  The bill now awaits Senate action.  All indications are the Senate will act on the bill shortly.

The farm bill, if signed into law, will make substantial changes to conservation policies and programs.  Included are needed policy changes to conservation compliance and provisions to protect native prairies from conversion in six states (N.D., S.D., Minn., Iowa, Neb., Mont.).  U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs are consolidated from 23 to 13.  Included is re-authorization of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) at 24 million acres, a new agricultural conservation easement program, and working lands conservation programs. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are in support of the passage of this farm bill and look forward to using these new tools to create wildlife habitat.

The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Vice President of Government Relations.

Annual Report: Top 25 Education & Outreach Chapters

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Pheasants Forever chapter-led mentored youth upland hunts remain a popular way to introduce youngsters to the outdoors and conservation. Photo by Aaron Atkinson

Pheasants Forever chapter-led mentored youth upland hunts remain a popular way to introduce youngsters to the outdoors and conservation. Photo by Aaron Atkinson

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever chapters held 904 youth events in 2013, including 697 youth shooting sports events. In the last year, 48,767 youngsters participated in chapter sponsored mentored youth hunts, target shoots or other youth/conservation events – an organizational record. These were the top chapters in 2013 at investing their locally-raised funds into Pheasants Forever’s mission via conservation education and outreach.

2013 Education & Outreach – Top 25 Chapters
Red River Valley (ND) $92,286
Crawford County (IA) $38,000
Ida County (IA) $35,340
Mahaska County (IA) $34,435
Carroll County (IL) $33,221
Illinois Pioneer $31,592
Southeastern Ohio $31,232
Northwest Suburban (MN) $28,713
Ingham County (MI) $28,713
Grand Valley (MI) $25,099
Texas Ringnecks HS (WY) $25,088
Audubon County (IA) $24,678
Peaceful Valley (ND) $23,455
Ashland County (OH) $22,159
Dickinson County (IA) $21,539
Metro Denver PF & QF (CO) $20,794
Full Circle Farm (SD) $20,000
St Louis/Carlton County (MN) $19,040
Carver County (MN) $18,730
Elkhorn Valley (NE) $18,658
High Plains (WY) $17,590
Anoka County (MN) $15,900
Mississippi Longtails (MN) $15,511
Aldo Leopold (IA) $14,914
Kishwaukee (IL) $14,516

 

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

UPDATES: Izzy, Trammell and a Thank You

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Izzy found this brace of bobwhites during a Rooster Road Trip hunt last year in Nebraska

Izzy found this brace of bobwhites during a Rooster Road Trip hunt last year in Nebraska

I love to write.  However, as my wife, Meredith, so adeptly penned in her blog post, I was overcome with emotion at Izzy’s passing.  I knew I could never write a blog that would do justice to how much Izzy meant to our family.  I didn’t know where, or how, to begin.  Every time I thought about her potential in the field, I’d tear up.  Every time I’d think about her positive energy and unconditional love in our home, I’d sob uncontrollably.  As bird hunters, we spend a couple dozen days a year in the field with our dogs if we’re lucky, while the remaining 300 plus are spent in kitchens, back yards and walks around the block.  Izzy was the “energy” in our family that’s now gone.  While every dog owner knows he/she will outlive their canine best friend, we’re never really prepared for the day that inevitability comes home to roost, especially at 1 year, 7 months and 8 days.

Our Community

In the days since that fateful Saturday, October 19th, I’ve received more than 200 emails, voicemails, blog comments, Facebook messages and Tweets with words of support and wisdom.  To put it bluntly, I’ve been overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy and friendship the Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever and bird dog communities have shown me.

As you can imagine, I’ve been brought to tears dozens of times in the days since Izzy was taken too early from us.  What I wasn’t expecting was that my little 1 ½ year old pup would inspire people to reach out to me to articulate their support for my personal well-being, Pheasants Forever’s habitat mission and my role within that mission.  People I’ve never met before or interacted with have grabbed the phone and keyboard to tell me what my words on the screen or over the radio waves have meant to them over the last several years.

Izzy and Trammell find a pair of late August sharp-tailed grouse in northwestern Wisconsin

Izzy and Trammell find a pair of late August sharptails

Trammell’s Recovery

When Meredith wrote her blog post, she did leave out one massive component of our terrible weekend when Izzy died.  She did so purposefully as a sign of respect to Izzy’s importance in our lives.  However, I feel it’s now appropriate to also bring to light just how close we came to losing both our dogs within 24 hours.  The night following Izzy’s passing, Trammell woke us up at 5AM.  She was dry-heaving and struggling to breathe.  This lasted for about thirty minutes before I was overcome by a sense of “I’m not going to lose both my dogs to tragedies in one day,” so we raced to a 24-hour pet hospital.  They immediately took X-rays and found two nails, a staple and a massive wad of grass in Tram’s stomach.  As you can imagine, I was shocked.  While definitely food-motivated, Trammell has never been a chewer.  I couldn’t comprehend how nails were now threatening her life.  The vet did an immediate endoscopy successfully removing one nail, but was unable to capture the second.  Emergency stomach surgery to remove the second nail surrounded by a massive ball of grass commenced and was thankfully successful.  I’ll never know how Tram picked up those nails; however, I am fearful they were intended for a wolf in a bait pile left in the same woods Izzy passed.  I hope my thoughts are purely those of an angry and grieving dog owner.  No animal – wolf, dog or other – deserves such a fate.  Thankfully, Tram’s stitches are now out and she is making a full recovery.

Borrowing a Dog

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been offered the services of a dozen people’s bird dogs.  Most of these offers have come from folks I’ve never met before.  I can’t express the measure of generosity I’ve felt from these offers.  Let’s face it; I haven’t had much luck with bird dogs recently.  For a stranger to trust me with their pup speaks volumes to their humanity.

While I’m eternally grateful to these offers, I’ve always had a rule about “borrowing” another’s bird dog (even before the tragedies of the last two weeks).  Under no circumstances will I ever put myself in a situation of being responsible for another’s pup.  Likewise, I’ll never lend out my own dogs.  My opinion is it’s simply too much of a risk for both parties to be in a situation of having to answer for unexpected circumstances.  Nevertheless, I do want to acknowledge the overwhelming gratefulness I’ve felt each time one of these offers arrived in my Inbox.  THANK YOU for trusting me.

Rooster Road Trip

The afternoon after Trammell’s surgery, I emailed Andrew and Anthony from my home after waking up from a sleep with Tram in bed.  In that email, I told the guys there was no way I’d be going out on this year’s tour without either of my dogs.  “Agony” is the word I used to categorize the feeling I’d have wandering five states “alone” to think about my departed Izzy and mending Tram.  As you’d expect from fellow dog guys, they understood completely and quickly enlisted Rehan Nana, Pheasants Forever’s Public Relations Specialist, to fill my slot.  I think you’d all agree, the trio did a marvelous job on this year’s Rooster Road in my absence.

Top Gun Yzerman "Izzy" v. St.Pierre

Top Gun Yzerman “Izzy” v. St.Pierre

Cremation and Rebirth

There were tears in our kitchen again last week.  Heavy tears.  Meredith brought Izzy’s cremated remains home from the vet in a tin urn.  As I write, that tin rests on our mantle next to Izzy’s puppy blanket . . . and I miss her a lot . . . and the tears stream down my face again.  1 year, 7 months and 8 days of joy.  Thank You, Izzy, for loving me and being my bird dog.  I’ll miss you FOREVER and hope to someday join you for another hunt.  Just you, me and Tram.  I love you . . .

Life and death, it is the incongruity of our existence.  Izzy’s passing has put the St.Pierre name on the list for a Top Gun litter again this spring. God willing, Izzy’s half-sister will join the St.Pierre family late next spring and you will have to endure another round of articles about dog names, potty training and first birds.  For Meredith and me, there was never any question we’d have to add another pup to our family as soon as possible.  The void Izzy’s departure has left in our home with her “big” personality is just too large to not try filling immediately.  I understand why some folks would take more time to grieve before getting another puppy.  Simply put, the opposite was needed for our recovery.

If you’d like to read a bit more about my beloved Izzy, here are a few links:

Finally, I just wanted to say “THANK YOU” for all the notes, love and support.  THANK YOU for all the messages and photos about your pups pointing in Izzy’s honor.  Most importantly, THANK YOU for giving your pup a scratch under the chin in Izzy’s memory.  That was always her favorite spot and I know she’s wagging her tail every time another pup gets a little love there.  THANK YOU.  I am humbled and thankful for your friendship.  Bob

Izzy's first pointed grouse came at the tender age of 7 months.

Izzy’s first pointed grouse came at the tender age of 7 months.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

To Mom & Dad: Thanks for giving me a life outdoors

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Three generations of St.Pierre's enjoying the outdoors

Three generations of St.Pierre’s enjoying the outdoors

On December 22, 1982 – my 9th birthday – my parents bucked a trend that would ultimately shape who I’d become as an individual.  The trend they bucked?  My dad gave up his good paying city job outside of Detroit to move our family into the rural woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  I became a “Yooper.”  From that point forward, my life included ruffed grouse, a Brittany named “Tinker,” musky fishing, canoeing, and camping.  Growing up in the country was the greatest birthday gift I would ever receive.

 

Unfortunately, the opposite decision – to move to the city – is the norm for most families in today’s society.  In my opinion, this is the singular catalyst that has set a domino of other trends in motion; all leading to one disturbing truth that’s got me and everyone else passionate about hunting and fishing shaking in our Irish Setters – kids today don’t spend time in the outdoors like we used to when we were youngsters.

 

Now, don’t take this as a condemnation of city life.  I fully recognize the cultural, economic, and societal advantages associated with living in an urban area.  However, the city life has made getting outdoors complicated.  My generation’s dangerous Red Ryder BB gun is no match for the dangers lurking in America’s alley today.  Our children’s safety and the fear associated with their protection have made organized, sanctioned activities, team sports, dance lessons, and video games a safe alternative to 24-hour surveillance.  Again, don’t take this as a condemnation of baseball, hockey, football, or dance.  I cherish my own Little League memories.

 

The point is today’s youngsters don’t get home from school, grab a fishing pole and head to the river like I did just two decades ago.  “Big deal,” you may retort.  You may even point a finger and call me a “latch key kid;” yes that dreaded stereotype from the ’80s.  Well, it’s those “latch key” trips to the river or through the grouse woods where I learned about nature, the land, myself, and life.  I found snapping turtles laying eggs, uncovered salamanders, caught smallmouth bass on orange jointed Rapalas, and bagged flushing ruffed grouse with my Ithaca Model 37.  It was a utopian environment for any kid to grow up within.  A utopia that’s difficult to find out the door of most youngsters’ homes today.

 

I don’t have the answer to reversing this trend and I’m not sure that anyone does.  But, I do believe the trend does need to be reversed.  I’ll leave you with one final thought – “If those of us who care about wildlife and our hunting traditions don’t take the initiative to pass down our passion for the outdoors, then who will?”

Iowa PF Chapter Honored for Innovative Clean Water Project

Friday, July 19th, 2013

News, Weather and Sports for Sioux City, IA: KCAU-TV.com

Iowa’s Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter is the recipient of the Iowa Governor’s Environmental Excellence award for an upland habitat project that’s helping create cleaner water for the city of Remsen. The project has the potential to revolutionize the way rural towns and cities across the country can effectively clean up and maintain a safe water supply while simultaneously creating wildlife habitat.

In 2007, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) named Remsen as a city with high nitrate contaminant levels – nearly three times the maximum – in its well water. In fact, the water from eight wells on 90 acres of farmland needed to be blended before being safe to drink. The city was faced with three choices: purchase drinking water from an outside source, build a multi-million dollar filtration plant or take a risk and try planting native prairie on the well land to naturally treat the water.

Representatives of the Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter accept a Governor's Iowa Environmental Excellence award for special recognition in water quality. From left are Chuck Gipp, Iowa DNR Director; Kim Reynolds, Iowa Lt. Governor; Brice Morris, Pheasants Forever Regional Representative for western Iowa; Chris Anderson, Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter president; Mike Slota, Kingsley-Pierson High School Pheasants Forever chapter youth advisor; Bob Puetz, Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter former president; and Terry Branstad, Iowa Governor. Photo courtesy Iowa DNR

Representatives of the Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter accept a Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence award for special recognition in water quality. From left are Chuck Gipp, Iowa DNR Director; Kim Reynolds, Iowa Lt. Governor; Brice Morris, Pheasants Forever Regional Representative for western Iowa; Chris Anderson, Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter president; Mike Slota, Kingsley-Pierson High School Pheasants Forever chapter youth advisor; Bob Puetz, Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter former president; and Terry Branstad, Iowa Governor. Photo courtesy Iowa DNR

Remsen received grants and low-interest loans to purchase the land, and the Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter handled the planting of native grasses, providing $15,000 in seed, labor and equipment for this innovative way to treat the city of Remsen’s drinking water.

Since the planting in 2009, the community has seen a decrease in the nitrate levels and the water is now safe to drink without being blended. Nitrate levels have fallen from 27 parts per billion to around 5 or 6 parts per billion (10 parts per billion is the maximum contaminant level). The site is also being used as an outdoor classroom and the community can use the mowed walking paths to view the grasses, wildflowers, pheasants, songbirds and other prairie animals.

In addition to being part of an innovative, cost-effective project that benefits every citizen in Remsen, the Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter was also able to accomplish two of its goals. “One is to plant habitat, and the second is to educate our youth about conservation. This fell into both of those categories,” said Mike Slota, a past youth chairperson and active member of the chapter.

No other community in the state or nation has used this solution to treat groundwater and the land will now remain a native prairie.

The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Governmental Relations.