Creating Better habitat on Private Lands
Leasing private lands for hunting is a demand that has been growing over the last decade. More and more people in the United States are searching for that perfect place where they can hunt; property that is managed well and will allow hunter’s various wildlife to choose from. Now, even though there are many debates regarding property management and opening private lands to hunters, leasing has become a very good source of income, and the benefits are most certainly visible.
It is no surprise that a truly dedicated hunter wants nothing more than a good, vibrant area that’s ripe with whitetail, big game, or fowl. They want this so much that they will not only travel, but they are willing to pay a great deal to get that contract to hunt wherever wildlife is plentiful.
When it comes to the property owner/manager side of things, before leasing property or collecting certain fees there are definite steps to take in order to make sure this process is done correctly. It is not only the lease that needs to be in order, but liability insurance must be garnered to protect the landowner when they allow paying guests to hunt.
It’s not only the extra money in the pocket that makes this ‘practice’ lucrative; benefits also come from the wealth of jobs that are created when the manager hires in order to take better care of the land. Not to mention, the retailers in that specific location – from restaurants to hotels – gain extra money from hunters’ visits.
Because of the desire to hunt on private lands, habitats have been cleaned up and gone from literal no-man’s-lands that couldn’t support a flea to healthy habitats that support numerous species of fish, plant and wildlife. All wildlife needs sources of protein, and these private forestlands provide all the factors that keep animals alive. Quality forage comes in the winter months, which is one of the greatest limitations on wildlife populations. More winter forage equals healthier herds and a way to increase carrying capacity – all extreme benefits!
Private landowners are learning day by day what the best techniques are when it comes to managing their property. Most create a plan that helps them to identify the goals they’re trying to meet, and describes the resources available on their property. These plans – this strict regimen that offers landowners the knowledge they need to be successful – meets everyone’s goals, from the owner to the hunter. Thus, more income is produced and better habitats are made.
There are also approved funds for the landowner that they can utilize in order to restore the land they manage. ‘Cost share’ money can be applied for in order to pay for any activities that “enhance forests and wildlife habitat” (i.e., tree planting, grass seeding, prescribed burning, stream enhancement), and is offered through various private, state and federal programs. The Farm Service Agency, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service and various state fish and wildlife departments will help. There are even private conservation organizations that offer cost share aid. In other words, everyone is working to see habitats restored.
Food, water, cover and space to roam – those are the four key ingredients that all wildlife has to have in order to remain healthy. With this in mind, landowners use cost share funds as well as their own ingenuity to make their lands beneficial. Some techniques used are ‘thinning’ forests which allows the rest of the trees and vegetation to gain more nutrients. This then creates more forage for wildlife because after thinning, the canopy of overzealous and dead trees is opened to the sun, allowing the forest floor to commence with the growing of new grasses and other nutrients.
When it comes to forests, controlled burns are also essential to the ecosystem to provide a brand new blank canvas, if you will, for new growth to appear. Forage production for all wildlife is increased which makes for larger and healthier herds. In addition, the landowner can help nature by planting mixtures of seed to the exposed soil within the forest. Some common grass varieties as well as forbs that are preferred are; blue bunch grasses, clover, lupines, and trefoil.
As the new seed takes root and the canopy grows back healthier than ever, wildlife will move in; the land will attract more and more game which in turn will attract more and more hunters.
Making a secure environment for the animals is also something that’s absolutely necessary. The simple fact is that an animal’s mind works just like a human’s – if they do not feel safe and secure, they will not stay in the area no matter how many benefits it might provide. So everything from erecting gates on roads that decrease traffic to growing trees that will become tall enough to provide extra cover, makes the animals feel more safe.
In the end, all of this work, time and investment is a good thing, as hunters and landowners come together in order to improve and restore our much-needed habitats.
Source: (Baret News wire/ SportsmansLife)