EDGEFIELD, S.C. — The National Wild Turkey Federation and its partners in the Northeast Texas Conservation Delivery Network’s Shortleaf Pine Working Group were recently recognized for their outstanding conservation efforts in northeast Texas.
The group was presented The Shortleaf Pine Conservation Award during the Shortleaf Pine Conference in Van Buren, Missouri, October 1. The group was recognized for their “distinguished contributions to the restoration and management of shortleaf pine forests, woodlands and ecosystems.”
Shortleaf pine habitat supports a number of animals including an important community of birds that depend on this threatened ecosystem. The specific focus for restoration efforts in Northeast Texas are brown-headed nuthatches, northern bobwhite quail, Bachman’s sparrows, prairie warblers, American kestrels, red-headed woodpeckers and Eastern wild turkeys. To date, the working group has completed or planned restoration work on more than 12,000 acres in the region.
“Open pine ecosystems are critical to wild turkeys in East Texas,” said Annie Farrell, NWTF district biologist for East Texas. “Unmanaged forests can be taken over by invasive species like yaupon and privet, so active forest management through treatments like prescribed fire, chemical brush control and native grass restoration is crucial to create the type of habitat turkeys need to survive. In doing so, we are benefiting a multitude of other wildlife.”
The concept of a working group began with partners with a common vision to restore open pine ecosystems. The team’s collective interest evolved into a focused and efficient collaboration within the Northeast Texas Conservation Delivery Network aimed at promoting restoration of shortleaf pine through outreach, education and training.
By 2016, their influence helped direct resources toward on-the-ground conservation delivery, and the opportunity for new funding came through the Northeast Texas Habitat Incentive Program. The NWTF provides operational oversight for grants received for the HIP program, directing restoration efforts on private lands in the region.
“The program has grown significantly since it started.” Farrell said. “By demonstrating our success year after year, I hope that we can continue this program long into the future. Our biggest accomplishment with the Habitat Incentive Program is being able to make a difference at a landscape scale in a state that is primarily private lands. That is huge, and it wouldn’t be possible without all our partners.”
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. The NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to conserve or enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, visit NWTF.org.