Honoring the 30Th Anniversary of Pheasants Foreverby Representative Betty McCollum
Posted on 2013-02-25
in the house of representatives
Monday, February 25, 2013
Ms. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to pay tribute to the
founders, members and staff of Pheasants Forever on the occasion of the
30th anniversary of the organization.
The Minnesota roots of this organization go back to day one and its 500 original members in the early 1980s. Residents of Minnesota's Fourth Congressional District share great pride that for most of those years, the organization has worked to protect the habitat for this beautiful bird throughout North America from its home base in White Bear Lake. Today, Pheasants Forever boasts more than 125,000 members in more than 600 chapters in both the U.S. and Canada, from Pennsylvania to Washington and Minnesota to Texas.
Minnesota has a long and distinguished history of wildlife conservation, and is the birthplace of several organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife and other natural resources. Born out of a crisis when our state suffered a dramatic decline in pheasant numbers, Pheasants Forever is a vital part of this proud tradition. The organization first took flight when a group of conservation minded hunters rose to meet the challenge presented by Dennis Anderson, St Paul Pioneer Press outdoor editor, as he wrote about the devastation of grassland habitat in Minnesota.
The grassroots origins of Pheasants Forever have remained critical to its success, and each chapter is empowered to determine how their funds are used. Members directly participate in the decisionmaking process and see firsthand the conservation impact of their contributions. Over the years, this strategy has produced real progress in protecting habitat.
[[Page E176]] In 1985, members of Pheasants Forever helped form the Conservation Reserve Program, CRP, as part of the Department of Agriculture. The CRP implemented a land set-aside program that paid landowners to keep their environmentally sensitive areas unused, creating more natural habitat for pheasants and other wildlife.
To this day, Pheasants Forever continues to work closely with the Department of Agriculture, partnering with USDA service centers and local landowners to create and improve vital habitat on private lands. More recently, Pheasants Forever launched the ``Build a Wildlife'' program to create public hunting grounds and outdoor recreation areas. In 2005, Quail Forever launched to focus on improving habitats for quail populations. To date, Pheasant Forever's various initiatives have protected and improved more than 8 million acres of wildlife habitat. These significant achievements have reversed the trend toward vanishing grasslands, and made Minnesota a premier example of upland habitat conservation.
Mr. Speaker, I honor the 30th anniversary of Pheasants Forever and the hunters and outdoor enthusiasts who make this organization successful.