Springfield, Ill. –-(Ammoland.com)- Quail Forever and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have entered into a partnership agreement to create a joint Habitat Strike Team – a crew of specialized habitat management biologists – to improve wildlife habitat within the state’s quail range on public and private lands.
Funded by a federal grant from the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, the Habitat Strike Team will focus on habitat upgrades for lands enrolled in the Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP) – more than 13,000 acres of private property leased by the Illinois DNR for public recreation and access. By utilizing pollinator habitat enhancements, timber stand improvement, and grassland restoration techniques, the crew hopes to improve wildlife habitat throughout the quail range for the benefit of upland hunters, bobwhite quail, and an entire host of other wildlife species.
“We’re thrilled to join forces with the leading upland habitat organization in the country,” stated Tammy Miller, IRAP manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “This partnership addresses the two largest limiting factors for sportsmen and women in Illinois, habitat and access. Together, the Illinois DNR and Quail Forever will put a lot of quality habitat on the landscape while providing many new access opportunities for the public.”
The Habitat Strike Team itself, consisting of a coordinator and habitat technician, has already begun mapping out habitat projects on public access areas enrolled in IRAP that have the most potential for wildlife, and will begin management efforts in the coming weeks.
“Quail Forever, the Illinois DNR, the state’s sporting community and most of all, wildlife, will all benefit from this partnership,” said Tim Caughran, eastern regional field manager for Quail Forever. “We’ve hired some very talented biologists to move our quail population in a positive direction, and we’re excited to see the partnership grow in the future.”
Tom Branson – Habitat Strike Team Coordinator
A native and lifelong resident of Ipava, Illinois, Tom Branson has been hired as the coordinator for the Habitat Strike Team in Illinois. An avid outdoorsman who enjoys hunting and fishing throughout the year, Branson pursued his outdoor passion in college by earning a B.S. in Forestry at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Previous experience in the field of natural resources includes working as a forester in a recent position with Illinois Forest Products, and as a hired laborer with Timber Creek Land Company. For more information about the Illinois Habitat Strike Team, contact Branson at (309) 224-1684 or [email protected]
Tony Kloppenborg – Habitat Strike Team Technician
Hired as the Habitat Strike Team technician in Illinois, Tony Kloppenborg joins Quail Forever with several years of relevant experience in the field of natural resources management. Kloppenborg graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Western Illinois University in 2008, and is currently finishing his master’s degree at the same school. Shortly after graduation, Kloppenborg became a certified fisheries observer for the National Marine Fisheries Service where he worked aboard commercial fishing vessels in the Bering Sea off of the Alaskan coast. Most recently, Kloppenborg worked as a biological technician for the fisheries division of the Illinois DNR, and as a resident with the natural heritage division of the Illinois DNR. For more information about the Illinois Habitat Strike Team, contact Kloppenborg at (309) 558-9627 or [email protected]
The Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP) leases private property throughout Illinois for semi-controlled public access for a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. Landowners are able to choose which outdoor recreational activities they agree to let the public to access while also retaining time for their personal outdoor activities on their property. All IRAP participants must have an IRAP permit/ID number and reserve location/date online prior to using sites. Since the program’s inception in 2011, over 13,000 acres have been enrolled.
About Pheasants Forever
Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 149,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure. Since creation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent $634 million on 502,000 habitat projects benefiting 14.1 million acres nationwide.