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Incentives to restore pheasant and quail habitat
Spaulding Outdoors
By Jack Spaulding

In the early 1960s and 1970s, pheasant and bobwhite quail were abundant in Indiana. With nearly 4 million acres of Hoosier farmland set-aside in USDA land retirement programs, these idle fields provided undisturbed nesting and brood-rearing habitat for pheasant and quail alike.

Today, only slightly more than 250,000 acres of cropland are being idled in USDA programs across the state. As a result, Indiana has lost more than 93 percent of its idle nesting and brood-rearing cover.

The loss of idled farmland acres, changes in farming practices, and the wide spread use of tall fescue have led to significant declines in pheasant, bobwhite quail and grassland songbird populations.

To help address population declines, the DNR has developed habitat priority areas to focus efforts in developing, enhancing, and maintaining habitat for pheasants and quail.

Landowners within selected habitat priority counties and townships will be eligible to apply for a one-time signing incentive for enrollment in the USDA’s CRP-CP33, Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds.

The signing incentive can be up to 120 percent of the average soil rental rate and is in addition to any signing incentive payments provided by USDA.

Interested landowners can take advantage of the limited time offer by calling the appropriate priority area biologist to discuss habitat management on their property. The biologist will prepare a management plan for each acceptable parcel and determine the total amount of incentive payments the landowner may be eligible to receive.

To be eligible for the incentive payments, a priority area biologist must approve the habitat practice or practice enrollment prior to implementation.

Payments will be made after the work has been completed and inspected by the priority area biologist or a designated representative. A detailed map of pheasant priority areas is available at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/hunt/phhabitat.pdf and a detailed map of quail priority areas can be found at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/hunt/quailhab.pdf

Crappie tournament
Crappie USA Inc. will host a qualifying event on Indiana’s Mississinewa/Salamonie/Huntington Lakes on April 22. Anglers will be able to fish any of the three lakes in the event. Anglers will fish for a seven-fish limit of crappie.

A pre-tournament seminar will be on Friday, April 21 at the Honeywell Center, 275 W. Market St., Wabash, Ind. Sign-up will begin at 5 p.m. with the meeting and a National Sponsor Field Test Product Drawing starting at 7 p.m. local time. This seminar is open to the public.

The tournament weigh-in will be on Saturday, April 22 at the Mount Etna Boat Ramp on Salamonie Lake off Hwy. 124 beginning at 3 p.m.

For more information, call 1-800-563-1169 or visit the Wabash County CVB website at www.wabashcountycvb.com, or in Huntington County, phone 260-859-TOUR or visit their website at www.visithuntington.org

Host lodging for the event will be the Wabash Inn, 1950 S. Wabash St., Wabash, Ind., or call 260-563-7451; or the AmeriHost Inn and Suites, 2820 Hotel Ave, Huntington, Ind., or phone 260-359-9000.

Teams can enter Crappie USA tournaments by filling out and sending in an entry form or by registering on the website at www.crappieusa.com before the listed deadline.

Teams may also enter at the pre-tournament seminar on Friday night. All late entries will be subject to a $20 late fee.

ACA membership is required to fish in the tournaments and a space is provided on the entry form for you to become a member. Teams may consist of one or two partners.

Entry fees in all qualifying tournaments are $75 per team in the Amateur Division and $155 in the Semi-Pro Division. Entry fees in both divisions include the Big Fish Pot.

All participants must be members of the American Crappie Assoc. to fish in the events. American Crappie Assoc. membership is $20 for adults and $10 for spouse and youth memberships.

Atterbury upgrade
Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area’s public shooting range has been closed in order to begin construction of a modern state-of-the-art state shooting facility.

Planned upgrades at the DNR property’s range in Johnson County include 72 covered stations for shooting rifle and pistol, modern accessible restrooms and a voice-activated combination trap and skeet range.

Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area’s shooting range project is a partnership between the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Federal Assistance program.

The USFWS is providing 75 percent of the upgrade funding.

“A modern shooting range in Johnson County will draw recreational shooters from miles around,” said DNR Director Kyle Hupfer. “The range will also offer marksmen and women from nearby Indianapolis, Columbus and Franklin a much-needed, convenient and safe public practice range.”

Hupfer added that target and clay pigeon shooters should try out similar recent range upgrades at J. Edward Roush Lake near Huntington and at the Kingsbury FWA near LaPorte. “These are exciting times for Hoosier shooters,” said Hupfer.

Citizens and hunters wishing to practice their marksmanship during the yearlong range upgrade can find alternate public shooting ranges on the DNR website at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/huntguide1/range.htm

Readers with questions or comments can contact Jack Spaulding by e-mail at outdoors@cnz.com or by writing to him in care of this publication.

This farm news was published in the April 5, 2006 issue of Farm World.

4/5/2006