By Craig Moorhead
The Caledonia Argus
A local conservation group is planning a work day to improve wildlife habitat on a Houston County Wildlife Management Area. The event is tentatively set for next month, and Quail Forever is inviting volunteers to help out.
“It’s a civic, county-wide thing...” Quail Forever (QF) coordinator Thurman Tucker reported. “We have two objectives, one is to improve wildlife habitat – and this is going to be for a lot of wildlife - and the other is to try and get some diverse groups together and try to lessen some of this tension that’s going on in the social world, so to speak.”
The site of the habitat workday is in southeastern Houston County. The Whalen family sold/donated a 76-acre tract just to the north of New Albin, Iowa to QF several years ago at a reduced price. Since then, it’s been transferred to State of Minnesota ownership.
“On Saturday, December 12th, we’d like to invite as many groups as possible to be a part of this, with all of us working together,” Tucker stated. “The event begins at 11 a.m. We anticipate that it will last two to three hours at most. We will provide roasted hot dogs and soft drinks for those that show up, as well as hot apple cider. We ask everyone to bring their own chain saw, and we will have a nice fire to help keep people warm... It’s basically work for adults, but we’re looking at children 10 and up can come, but they won’t be handling chainsaws.” There will be plenty of work for youngsters, like helping to move the brush that others cut, Tucker noted.
“We do look at the weather, though, and you never know. Over six inches of snow and we would need to postpone it. Possibly do it in February. And if it’s below zero we won’t do it. So it’s tentative.
“My view is this, I think as a society we have far more going with us than against us... We can work together. We don’t have to agree on everything, but we’ve got to work together. We just think we can do that by pulling this off.
“We’re trying to lessen this division we’ve got in this country...
“We may be Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Catholics, Protestants, different ethnic groups, bird watchers or hunters, It’s just about all of us working together. That’s what we really want to do.
“Everybody, almost, agrees that we need to improve our wildlife habitat. Especially when you look at the numbers we’ve lost, when you look at the grassland birds, for example,” he said..”In the last 70 years we’ve lost almost three billion birds here in North America. The numbers have gone down. The numbers as far as quail, which is one of the species that’s gone down, too, but you talk to people and you don’t see the meadowlarks you used to see, you don’t see the insects you used to see, and of course the bob white...
Tucker added that improving habitat for quail helps many other species as well.
“We’d be using the quail-type habitat management practice and all we’ve got to do is some edge-feathering on this property. With the quail from a management point of view, it’s an umbrella species. So you impact more species than if you’re just going for deer or ducks, pheasant, turkey, or any other species. You impact a ton of different species that most people like, including the beneficial insects, the pollinators.”
Tucker said that a few common-sense precautions will be part of the work day as well. “Even working together, we still want to practice social distancing because of the COVID-19 situation... We’ll just do some work, improving wildlife habitat, improving some of these social issues that we have in this country.”
The address where volunteers will meet is 23694 State Hwy 26, Eitzen, Minn., about a half mile north of New Albin, Iowa, (on St. Hwy 26). Signs will be posted close to the entrance. Please RSVP Thurman Tucker at email@example.com by Dec. 4 if you wish to attend.