As a charter member of the Coal Creek Chapter of Pheasants Forever, I believe in sharing what the chapter has accomplished in the past year. The following is the letter advising members, sponsors and donors of the upcoming 21st annual fund raising banquet.
The wet weather shifted the planting season of 2013 to early summer. This year the Coal Creek Chapter provided seed, equipment and planting help to establish 75 acres of native grass and forbs along with approximately 15 acres of food plots in Montgomery, Fountain, Warren and surrounding counties. The is an impressive amount of acreage considering grain commodity prices are relatively high.
The chapter’s focus is to provide critical habitat during a time of rapidly shrinking wildlife habitat acreage. Land usage practices and highly efficient farming, along with record high commodity prices have led to dramatic changes in our surrounding environment. Gone are the days of old grown up pastures and homesteads with small fields separated by wide fence rows and mechanically cultivated crops. The old era provided large amounts of wildlife habitat and food source. The chapter’s efforts are aimed at taking marginal usage land or small personal property lots and using them to establish vital wildlife habitat. In these areas you will find that wildlife flourishes despite many people thinking the modern practices have done away with much of the wildlife that many reminisce about. We would like to thank all of the sponsors, donors and members for their past and future support that enables this achievement. The chapter is continually amazed at the support and volunteerism that is present in our community.
This year’s plantings boost the chapter’s total acreage since the chapter’s beginning in 1993 to more than 4,325 acres of wildlife habitat. This habitat is primarily composed of native grass and tree plantings. Of course some of this habitat has disappeared due to changing ownership or other factors, but much of it is still intact. This habitat, benefiting numerous species, has been primarily native warm season grasses — the same plants which grew in the tall grass prairie of mid-North America. The plantings benefit all species of wildlife, including pheasant, quail, deer, wild turkey, rabbits, many species of small mammals and a multitude of songbirds. The field borders and edges utilize less productive acreage to provide habitat for the various forms of wildlife which need a more permanent home than the corn or soybean field. Many of the plantings are established in areas that filter surface water runoff prior to entering streams and also inhibit soil erosion. These plantings increase water filtration effects by settling out debris and silt from soil erosion that occurred upstream during times of flood. Trees and native grasses have also proven to be the best air and water purifiers available.
The chapter uses a portion of the funds it generates to assist in promoting educational events related to conservation. This past spring the chapter provided one scholarship to a Purdue University junior who is majoring the wildlife conservation and five scholarships for high school graduates enrolled in conservation related curriculum. The chapter also participates in the annual Montgomery County Elementary School Educational Field Day that focuses on conservation scheduled for the week of Aug. 19. The chapter also is sponsoring small environmental educational programs within the Montgomery County school systems as well as supporting local 4-H programs, local hunter education classes and the building of a blind that enables handicapped hunters opportunity to hunt. The chapter is always interested in sponsoring public education personnel to attend training sessions aimed at implementing Aldo Leopolds conservation principles and land ethics into educational programs.
The chapter needs funds to conduct many of these activities and the only fund raising event is the annual banquet. This year’s banquet date will be Sept. 21. As in the past, the banquet site will be the Covington Beef House with doors opening at 5 p.m. The banquet dinner — served at your table — will be at 7 p.m. and the live auction begins at 8 p.m.
A sponsors donation will be $250, and for this donation, the chapter will provide one Pheasants Forever membership, two banquet meals and any item in the PF Market Place 2013 up to the value of $40. The catalog is in any recent issue of Pheasants Forever magazine or may be obtained by calling any of the listed members. The sponsor’s donation and money spent at the banquets raffles, games and live auction allows the chapter to continue efforts to restore grassland habitat and sponsor educational programs.
Individual banquet tickets, which will include Pheasants Forever membership and the banquet meal, will be $65. The cost of the Pheasants Forever National membership is $35. Any additional tickets to cover the meal for a spouse or other guest will be $30. The membership and banquet meal money does not stay with the local chapter. The local chapter generates funds only by participation in banquet fund raising activities. The funds generated by the auction and raffles allow the Chapter’s work to continue.
For additional information regarding the banquet, raffles and chapter activities, contact Tim Fuesting, 482-7634; Les Robertson, 866-0313; Kenny Cain, 794-4688; Jim Spence, 866-8019; or Zach Cain, 366-6682. Any donations in the form of checks should be sent to Les Robertson, 5250 W. C.R. 450S, Crawfordsville, IN 47933.
Don Bickel is a retired forester. His column appears Tuesdays in the Journal Review. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.