From roadsides to farm country, volunteers improving habitat across Illinois for pheasants, quail, and pollinators
Schaumburg, Ill. – Jan. 25, 2019 –One month ahead of the 2019 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic hosted in Illinois for the first-time, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever is reporting record attendance from Illinois chapters and volunteers. Individual chapter leaders, the lifeblood of the organization, are preparing to share their conservation success stories during the nation’s largest upland celebration and tradeshow, open to the public, on February 22nd-24th within the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center.
“The energy and enthusiasm being shared for our national event at meetings, banquets and social media throughout the state is inspiring to say the least,” shared Ross Fogle and Brandon Beltz, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s regional representatives for the state of Illinois. “More than 450 Illinois chapter leaders have already committed to the three-day weekend, an organizational record dating back to the first national convention ever held in 2004.”
Illinois represents strong Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever turf, boasting 39 Pheasants Forever chapters, 25 Quail Forever chapters – the most state QF chapters found anywhere in the U.S. – and nearly 10,000 Pheasants Forever and/or Quail Forever members. Since 1982, Illinois’ dedicated volunteers have spent $19 million to improve 43,264 acres for habitat conservation. The following volunteer habitat success stories will be shared with public attendees at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic:
Illinois Habitat Strike Team
Quail Forever and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have entered into a partnership agreement to create a joint Habitat Strike Team – a crew of specialized habitat management biologists – to improve wildlife habitat within the state’s quail range on public and private lands.
Funded by a federal grant from the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, the Habitat Strike Team will focus on habitat upgrades for lands enrolled in the Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP) – more than 13,000 acres of private property leased by the Illinois DNR for public recreation and access.
Wildlife Innovation: Electrifying Habitat Work
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever in Illinois has a working partnership with Ameren Corporation – the state’s largest electrical provider – to establish pollinator habitat projects on transmission line rights-of-way throughout the state. This innovative partnership will expand the efforts of local chapters to establish and improve habitat corridors for wildlife, while reducing utility maintenance costs for Ameren Corporation.
With more than 7,800 miles of transmission lines in the southern two-thirds of Illinois, the new partnership for establishing pollinator habitat can improve more than 5,000 acres for the mission of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever alone.
Illinois Habitat Highway
Pheasants Forever and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) have forged a new partnership to manage for pollinator habitat and critical wildlife corridors throughout the state. Titled the “Illinois Habitat Highway” and a first of its kind partnership in the Prairie State, local chapters of Pheasants Forever are working in conjunction with IDOT to make roadside habitat improvements that will benefit pheasants, quail, pollinators, and a host of other grassland wildlife.
The program is designed to provide seasonal habitat for pollinating insects, particularly monarch butterflies. These sites will also provide critical nesting habitat while creating an insect-rich environment for pheasant and quail broods – an essential component of any upland habitat management plan.
Quail Forever Surge
With the recent population increase of bobwhites in the U.S., Quail Forever worked diligently over the past year to capture the renewed interest of diehard upland hunters by forming new volunteer QF chapters, including three new committees in the state of Illinois. The McDonough County, Brown County, Illinois State University, Washington County, University of IL Urbana-Champaign, and North Egyptian Chapters of Quail Forever recently assembled to increase quality habitat for bobwhite quail and other wildlife over the past year.
Quail Forever volunteers have completed 2,105 projects in the state to improve 32,344 acres for bobwhite quail and other wildlife. Implementing new programs and initiatives such as prescribed burn associations, habitat strike teams, and recent rights of way projects, local chapters are poised to have dramatic impacts moving forward for habitat conservation efforts in the Prairie State.
For more information about National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic including seminars, exhibitors, and tickets, please visit www.PheasantFest.org or call 651-209-4953.
About Pheasants Forever
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 140,000 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. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $867 million on 540,000 habitat projects benefiting 18+ million acres nationwide.