Land Management Becomes an Even Larger Issue After Hurricane Sandy Decimates the Shore
With the recent ‘superstorm,’ Hurricane Sandy, there will be more and more devastation found as the clean-up continues. The loss of human life was the largest tragedy, of course, but with the loss of homes and the damage done to shorelines – causing even more erosion – the aquatic life and natural environment will also sustain huge losses.
Hunters and anglers are delving more and more into the realm of habitat conservation and land management, seeking to conserve, protect and restore all habitats for wild plants, fish and animals. This is not only to prevent a reduction in species and herds; it is also to develop our natural surroundings in order to make sure that the balance (or, if you prefer, ‘circle’) of life is maintained and improved for the generations of hunters and anglers coming up behind.
It was actually more than a few decades ago when hunters first saw the connection between healthy habitats and abundant wildlife. Anglers, as well, are working extremely hard and devoting a large amount of time to improving lakes and streams in order to offer the healthiest fish habitats available.
Along with the conservationists and naturalists – the ‘green’ movement, if you will – hunters and anglers are making sure to help all areas that were truly destroyed at one point by everything from Mother Nature to chemicals to harmful fertilizers that drained from the soil into the lakes, causing ultimate destruction of habitats and fish populations.
The aquatic world, as well as the land, are what provide the ‘meals’ that create herds, as well as the oxygen and nutrients that are needed to improve plant life. Not only has the natural world been affected by Mother Nature’s wrath, but it also remains a fact that the housing development trends became a huge issue when ‘weeds’ were pulled out of shoreline backyards that were actually native plants necessary to keep animal herds and fish populations healthy.
Companies have also ‘cropped up’ (if you will excuse the expression) in the past few years, that are completely devoted to developing various types of soil and blends that – when used in land management practices – restore natural habitats. From growing native wildflowers to shrubs, grasses, and aquatic plants, these particular blends extend over a variety of categories and are even offered by region. Such as, the blends for the Northern areas of our nation are certainly far different than the ones created and developed for Midwestern regions.
More and more farmers are coming on board with these new products, and restoring natural vegetation so that herds can feed and grow in number, as well as planting various blends that will attract everything from elk to Canadian geese to bass in order to provide more variety for the hunting/fishing seasons. Fisheries are even working to prevent eroding shorelines from sending sediment into the water, where it proceeds to kill fish eggs and the insects that fish need to eat.
Now when it comes to land management, farmers or landowners who wish to improve deer and other wildlife habitats have a great many choices they can make. From installing specialty food plots to delving into timber management – projects and products are exploding across the board.
Creating food plots is actually one of the best ways to help habitats and improve herds. Many do not have access to acres of wheat, corn, etc., but they can plant food plots in order to harvest more deer. The first step for this will always be getting a soil test and then submitting that test to your County Extension Agent for fertilizer and lime recommendations, and then going from there.
Seed and fertilizer costs range from $50 to $100 per acre in the first year for perennials and every year for annuals. So if you can plant a perennial food plot, which will always return from its own root system, you’re ahead of the game. And if you can spread lime and fertilize the soil correctly, clover/grass mixtures are a fantastic low maintenance food plot for deer.
Cool season plots help deer herds most in the late fall, winter and early spring. Also something to keep in mind is the fact that areas with high deer densities but low food choices cause deer to seriously overgraze, which is why food plots should be at least one acre in size.
The huge variety of mixes and blends that are available for land management practices literally focus on everything; mixes can even be found that are high in calcium/phosphorus which is known to help buck antler development and metabolic needs of the deer. It’s also good to keep in mind that a consistent winter feeding program carried out over the rest of the year, can result in far healthier herds.
As our nation continues to grow, houses continue to be built and land continues to be utilized for other purposes, it becomes more and more important to find a way to decrease the negative by increasing feeding areas for all animals. Not to mention, no one ever quite knows when or what Mother Nature will release in the future, so improving, building and maintaining habitats as soon as possible is an absolute must!
Every state, as well as the federal wildlife programs, offer websites that provide land management tips, and how to attract wildlife to your property. Whether interested in soil testing or choosing the right blend to plant, searching for answers and recommendations has gotten a whole lot easier. So let’s continue the good work by keeping habitats healthy and animals strong!