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Loup City, Neb. — U.S. Representative Tom Osborne toured several projects in Valley, Sherman and Custer counties Sept. 27 to assess accomplishments of the recent Focus on Pheasants initiative, a joint effort by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) and Pheasants Forever (PF).

During the tour Osborne saw first-hand the results of Nebraskas Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). “The CRP program, one of the most significant conservation programs in Nebraska, has been very important to the states pheasant population,” Osborne said. “Pheasants thrive in CRP acres especially those with recently upgraded habitat.”

In addition to CRP, the pheasant initiative involves several strategies to address the decline of Nebraskas pheasant population and promote pheasant hunting opportunities in the state. One of the most successful is the CRP-Management Access Program (CRP-MAP), a partnership effort between NGPC and PF.

“CRP-MAP is a walk-in access program for hunters, trappers and other bird watching enthusiasts that was begun in 1997,” said Jim Douglas, administrator of the Commissions Wildlife Division.

“Landowners are also required to upgrade the quality of habitat on at least 10 percent of the CRP acres each year by light disking and interseeding of legumes,” he said.

The method of upgrading habitat through light disking and interseeding thins cover to allow sunlight to reach the ground and promote the growth broadleaf plants. Pheasants thrive on disturbed weedy areas, which produce far more grasshoppers and other insects than do solid stands of grass. Insects are high in protein, which is essential for the growth of pheasant chicks.

Lavern Wojtalewicz of Saint Paul, who enrolled some of his CRP acres just outside of Loup City in the CRP-MAP program, said “CRP-MAP has worked for me. I am an absentee landowner. Now I dont have problems with trespassers and their leaving gates open, and I receive a payment for allowing people to hunt.”

For more information about the CRP-MAP program and the habitat needs of pheasants and other game birds, contact your local NGPC office.




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