QDMA Improves Habitat and Hunting on Public Lands
Through New Partnership
ATHENS, GA (March 10, 2020) – The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) is proud to announce a new partnership with Southern Forestry Consultants (SFC) and its subsidiary Wiregrass Ecological Associates (WEA) that will result in improved habitat and hunting opportunities on public and private lands.
Under a memorandum of understanding, the QDMA and its partners have entered into a 10-year Master Stewardship Agreement (MSA) with the USDA Forest Service (USFS) to thin densely stocked pine and hardwood stands that currently provide poor quality wildlife habitat and marginal hunting opportunities. Additional habitat management practices, education and outreach are other key components of the partnership.
“Habitat quality on Forest Service lands directly impacts public land deer quality and abundance and, therefore, hunter success and satisfaction,” said Matt Ross, QDMA Assistant Director of Conservation. “The habitat improvement practices in this MSA will improve forest health, deer herd quality and hunter success on thousands of acres of public land.”
Recent trends and ongoing research suggest declining white-tailed deer harvest on some federal lands is likely the result of diminishing acreage in young forest cover. The USFS has identified that suppression of fire and reduction of timber harvesting activities over time on some of their lands have changed habitat conditions to create more dense stands and less early successional communities. Active forest management under QDMA’s guidance and through this MSA will enhance and restore wildlife habitat in these places.
The QDMA and USFS will mutually identify and select proposed stewardship projects for completion. This will be done in a way that ensures the work accomplished meets the missions of both USFS and QDMA. Stewardship projects may include prescribed fire treatments; vegetation management such as timber thinning to promote healthy forests; watershed restoration and maintenance; control of noxious and exotic species and the reestablishment of native species; recreational facility management; and road and trail maintenance or decommissioning to restore and improve water quality.
QDMA hopes to launch the first stewardship project in 2020 on USFS lands in Mississippi. “Our goal is to use this first site as a demonstration area after which we hope to extend these practices to many thousands of acres across the United States,” said Ross. “This is just the beginning of something very special.”
The MSA includes the Eastern and Southern Regions of the USDA Forest Service territory, which covers the vast majority of the whitetail’s range. The Eastern Region includes: Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The Southern Region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Puerto Rico.
“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to improve habitat and hunting on public lands,” said QDMA CEO Brian Murphy. “To ensure the work is of the highest possible standard, we have partnered with the leading forestry and environmental companies in the Southeast.”
“Our commitment to sustainable forestry and ecological stewardship aligns closely with QDMA’s, making this partnership a perfect fit for us,” said WEA President and SFC Partner Austin Carroll.
“This opportunity is truly a win-win for hunting and conservation,” said Steve Shea, WEA Contractor and owner of Shea Wildlife & Environmental Services, Inc.. “While improved habitat for deer is a major focus, our work will benefit countless other wildlife species.”
QDMA is dedicated to ensuring the future of white-tailed deer, wildlife habitat and our hunting heritage. Founded in 1988, QDMA is a national nonprofit wildlife conservation organization with 50,000 members in all 50 states and Canada. To learn more about QDMA and why it is the future of deer hunting, call 800-209-3337 or visit www.QDMA.com. QDMA can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheQDMA, Twitter at www.twitter.com/TheQDMA, and Instagram at www.instagram.com/TheQDMA.
SFC is a leading forestry and land management company in the Southeast. SFC assists clients in implementing sustainable forestry and land management strategies across an array of landscapes. Major areas of emphasis include forest inventory, appraisal, auditing, reforestation and regeneration, harvest planning and oversight, forest management planning and implementation, BMP compliance, prescribed burning, recreation management, native warm season grass establishment and management, wildlife habitat enhancement plans, and invasive species inventory and management. To learn more about SFC, visit www.soforest.com.
WEA is a natural resource consulting firm committed to providing integrated solutions to complex ecological issues for its clients and customers. WEA specializes in project management of environmental and ecological evaluations, planning, permitting, management, and monitoring services for a variety of industries and clients. WEA provides multidisciplinary expertise with biodiversity and conservation, rare species, wildlife and fisheries science, habitat enhancement and restoration, regulatory permitting and compliance, and natural resource management plan development focused on biodiversity and conservation objectives. To learn more about WEA, visit www.wiregrasseco.com.