NWTF to Impact 15,000 Acres

Jason Lupardus, NWTF regional biologist, has a standard set of talking points when working with state and local NWTF chapters regarding Super Fund expenditures.

“We really try to get a 6-to-1 match,” Lupardus said. “I always say to the chapters ‘Let’s take $1 and turn it into $6.”

It’s a persuasive pitch to say the least. But Lupardus recently had the opportunity to make a slightly more effective one.

“I was able to talk to the Tennessee State Chapter and ask ‘How would you like to take $1 and turn it into $18,” Lupardus said.

And that’s exactly what they’ve done.

The NWTF has secured a $217,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to conduct habitat work and outreach programs in Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest and Tennessee’s North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area.

“It all started with a $10,000 match from the Tennessee State Chapter,” Lupardus said. “That $10,000 — along with having a plan already in place for Super Fund projects — led to this large grant and a series of projects that will directly impact about 15,000 acres over the next couple of years.”

The grant will allow for critical habitat work, such as prescribed burning, timber stand improvement, invasive species removal as well as public outreach and education events and programs.

“That’s one of the aspects about this that I’m really excited about,” Lupardus said. “We’ll be able to have field days, where we can bring the public in and not only show them the work that we’re doing but also educate them on why this work is important. It is critical work — we’ve lost 99.9 percent of the oak savanna habitat in this country. It’s the most imperiled upland system in the United States.”

It’s that oak savanna habitat this project will begin to conserve and restore.

The grant process highlights the importance of the NWTF’s Super Fund program and the organization’s willingness to work with other conservation-minded partners.

“Without those partnerships, this doesn’t happen. The Pine Mountain Chapter has a great partnership with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and that made a difference in securing this grant,” Lupardus said. “They help run one of the biggest Wheelin’ Sportsmen events in the country. The Campbell Outdoor Recreation Center, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the state agencies were all very supportive. That’s what makes these opportunities possible.”

Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest encompasses more than 700,000 acres of Appalachian hills and hollows and offers good hunting opportunities for turkeys, deer and small game. It’s also home to a growing elk herd.

Tennessee’s North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area covers 146,000 acres over several units and is another excellent public hunting option for deer and turkeys.

“The area has a surging black bear population. It has elk. It has good turkey hunting, but it could be better,” Lupardus said. “I think we are going to be able to do a lot of good in that area.”

Article by the National Wild Turkey Federation.