Engaging transportation, railway, electric, oil/gas, and solar industries to assess and improve habitat management on national corridors
Focusing on the connectivity of wildlife habitat and sustainability impacts nationwide, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever today announced a new initiative to improve habitat for wildlife in conjunction with transportation, railway, electric, oil/gas, and solar rights-of-way corridors and footprints in the United States. The Rights-of-Way & Energy (ROWE) Habitat Program provides conservation technical assistance to industry leaders for creating sustainable, integrated habitat management plans with the potential to improve an estimated 35 million rights-of-way and energy acres.
“In addition to restoring and enhancing wildlife habitat on rights-of-way corridors, this innovative program has the capacity to help industries achieve sustainability objectives, engage local communities, and provide an incredible ecological resource throughout the United States,” said Michael Retterer, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Rights-of-Way and Energy Coordinator. “We look forward to unveiling several key partnerships in the near future that will serve as pilot projects for creating this vision for new habitat acres.”
Serving as linear ribbons of habitat, rights-of-way have an important role to play in connecting fragmented landscapes in the U.S. Add habitat blocks around solar farms and oil/gas fields to those rights-of-way corridors and the magnitude of the opportunity for creating wildlife habitat becomes much clearer. In fact, transportation (13 million acres, USDOT Federal Highway Administration), railway (425,000 acres, USDOT Federal Railroad Administration), electric (9 million acres, FEMA), oil/gas pipelines (12 million acres, U.S. Energy Information Administration) and solar fields (800,000 acres by 2025, U.S. Energy Information Administration) account for 35 million acres of opportunity. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s ROWE initiative was created to help industries unlock the full potential and diversity for rights-of-ways. This includes habitat for pheasants, quail and other wildlife, pollinator health, water quality, carbon sequestration, songbird populations, and migration routes for species such as monarch butterflies.
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s history of creating habitat along rights-of-ways dates all the way back to its 1980s roots when the organization worked closely with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other partners to develop a “Roadsides for Wildlife” campaign focused upon the importance of these corridors for wildlife and environmental services. Since that time, The Habitat Organization has worked with numerous entities throughout the U.S., most notably the Illinois Department of Transportation as part of the “Illinois Habitat Highway” project, as well as Ameren Corporation to help establish pollinator habitat projects on electrical transmission line rights-of-way throughout Illinois and eastern Missouri. The partnership was recently highlighted on a segment of St. Louis Public Radio.
“There are plenty of reasons for focusing on rights-of-way and energy as an untapped habitat resource, but this incredible opportunity also resonates deeply for partner industries who want to lower their maintenance costs, provide a service to customers, promote biodiversity and ultimately, change the perception given to rights-of-way,” said Retterer. “These corridors should be considered ribbons of biological diversity as opposed to mowed ditches, and we’re dedicated to helping with that transformation.”
For more information about Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Rights-of-Way & Energy Habitat Program or to setup a consultation, contact Michael Retterer at email@example.com or (937) 631-1064.
About Pheasants Forever
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever make up the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. This community of more than 400,000 members, supporters and partners is dedicated to the protection of our uplands through habitat improvement, public access, education and advocacy. A network of 754 local chapters spread across North America determine how 100 percent of their locally raised funds are spent — the only national conservation organization that operates through this grassroots structure. Since its creation in 1982, the organization has dedicated more than $1 billion to 567,500 habitat projects benefiting 22 million acres.