While many Brown County residents have their thoughts trained on spring and its incumbent activities, Brown County's hunters have two more reasons to look forward to fall, thanks to Brown County Pheasants Forever.
In cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Brown County Pheasant Forever has donated a 30-acre parcel to the State's Wildlife Management Area program (WMA) and utilized its RIM credit with the DNR to purchase an additional 40-acre addition to the WMA program.
Located in Section 9 of Mulligan Township, Brown County Pheasants Forever donated 30 acres to the DNR that will now be known as Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area. This new WMA is adjacent to 40 acres of existing WMA. According to Brown County Pheasants Forever President Dan Braulick, "the Winding Creek WMA is a perfect example of Pheasants Forever's grassroots conservation mission.
The Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area
The money that Brown County Pheasants Forever raises each year at its March fundraising banquet and through the generosity of individual and business supporters stays in Brown County. This property was purchased with those funds to benefit wildlife and to provide hunting and other outdoor recreational opportunities to Brown County and all of Minnesota."
Also located in Mulligan Township, the Minnesota DNR recently acquired 40 acres in Section 1 to be known as the Sellner Tract of the Meadowlark Acres WMA. The purchase utilized Brown County Pheasants Forever's RIM credits with the DNR.
"The RIM credit program rewards organizations like Brown County Pheasants Forever who have made donations to the WMA program" explains Braulick. "For each donation like the Winding Creek WMA donation, the DNR credits back a percentage of the appraised value to groups like Brown County Pheasants Forever. If we identify a property for acquisition towards the WMA program, the DNR will then contribute those RIM credits towards the purchase of the property. Because of Brown County Pheasants Forever's numerous donations to the WMA program over the years, the Meadowlark WMA addition was purchased entirely with our RIM credits," said Braulick. "Because of RIM match, the money we raise and spend in Brown County is stretched even further."
The Meadowlark WMA is particularly unique. "The Meadowlark property contains 11.9 acres of virgin prairie" related Braulick. "Although the grasses are non-native cool season grasses, the sod has never been turned on a portion of this property. We are particularly pleased to have been able to preserve this special property and the potential to restore native prairie."
Wildlife Management Areas are part of Minnesota's outdoor recreation system and are established to protect areas that have a high potential for wildlife production, public hunting, trapping, fishing, wildlife viewing and other compatible recreational uses. "In addition to pheasants" Braulick explained, "deer, waterfowl, small game and any number of non-game species will utilize these latest acquisitions."
Winding Creek and Meadowlark WMA's are not the only acquisitions that Brown County Pheasants Forever has been involved in recently. According to Braulick, "about a year ago, Brown County Pheasants Forever partnered with the Minnesota DNR in acquiring a 477-acre addition to the Wood Lake WMA in Sections 28 and 29 of Mulligan Township in Brown County. Since our founding 22 years ago, Pheasants Forever has participated in the acquisition of 16 WMA's totaling 1606.5 acres and spent nearly $2,500,000.00 in Brown County."
Pheasants Forever is a grassroots conservation organization dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs. The unique model allows local chapters to maintain the funds they raise for use in their counties.
"We still have chapter pioneers involved in the chapter and serving on our committees. However, the number is dwindling each year. We have three or four of the 'next generation' involved now and an overall core group of six or seven active members. That's not enough for the work that we do. We need more active members to help carry the load."
Anybody interested in getting involved with Brown County Pheasants Forever can join them at the Servicemen's Club in Sleepy Eye at 8p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month, or they can call a chapter board member or visit the chapter website at browncounty.pheasantsforever.org/ for more information.
"If we can find a handful of dedicated members to join our group, we can continue WMA acquisitions like Winding Creek and Meadowlark. More importantly, we can ensure that in Brown County, we really do have pheasants forever."