Did you know? This State Game Area is home to a pretty cool habitat restoration project

Project aims to conserve pheasants, quail, other wildlife

Pheasants Forever is one of several conservation organizations in Michigan to help out with the work.

Have you heard of the Petersburg State Game Area? The 580-acre land in Monroe County is open and available year-round for public visitors.

There’s a lot more you might not know.

It’s also home to about 10 patches of a rare ecosystem known as Oak Openings, which consists of savanna with widely spaced mature oaks and shrub cover.

And the State Game Area has been specifically set aside for wildlife conservation and management.

You can find a wide variety of wildlife, including rare and endangered species such as the Karner blue butterfly and lark sparrow.

The area is even hosting a recent wildlife habitat restoration project.

Wildlife officials are restoring two former agricultural fields to a roughly 125-acre wetland/grassland habitat complex.

The DNR is completing the wetland restoration portion through its wetland mitigation banking program, and the State Game Area will be planting the surrounding uplands to diverse native prairie through its Adopt-A-Game Area Program, with contributions from several groups, including Monroe County Pheasants Forever and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

In short, the DNR’s wetland mitigation banking program proactively restores wetlands to offset wetland impacts caused by future public infrastructure projects, such as road construction.

Pheasants Forever, by the way, was one of several conservation organizations in Michigan to help out with that work.

What is Pheasants Forever?

It’s a group dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.

The state of Michigan is home to 34 chapters of Pheasants Forever and nearly 9,000 members.

Volunteers have spent $10.9 million to complete 71,000 projects impacting more than 521,000 acres – including the Petersburg State Game Area.

Something called the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative was launched in 2011 -- and a lot of the work goes back to this initiative, wildlife officials said.

The MPRI is a 10-year initiative designed to enhance the state’s pheasant habitat and grow populations and hunting opportunities on public-private land.

It works by acquiring state and federal resources to help landowners to improve wildlife habitats on their property, as well as on select public lands.

So, why do we care about pheasants, anyway?

The pheasant’s habitat has been significantly affected by urban development, the Michigan Wildlife Council said, adding that pheasants have lost a lot of habitat in recent years.

In addition, the state’s lake-effect snow has made this shortage even more difficult for them to withstand.

Although MPRI is focused on the ring-neck pheasant, the projects that are being implemented transcend the bird itself to provide lasting environmental benefits in the state of Michigan.

The conservation practices implemented for pheasants also have positive implications for water quality, soil health, pollinators such as honeybees and monarch butterflies, and a vast array of other wildlife.

The Adopt-A-Game-Area Program is another part of the equation. It’s actually a collaboration with the Michigan DNR.

The program allows people to sponsor habitat projects on state lands for others to use and enjoy.

Support provides valuable nesting habitat, brood-rearing habitat, foraging habitat and winter habitat for a wide range of wildlife, including deer, turkeys, pheasants, ducks, cottontail rabbits, songbirds and pollinators.

In case you’re wondering what it all means …

The conservation activities taking place at the Petersburg State Game Area are just some examples of the types of wildlife management that will ensure the state’s forests, waters and wildlife will be around for generations to come.

To learn more about Pheasants Forever, visit MichiganPheasantsForever.org.

If you want to learn more about other great wildlife conservation stories, visit the Michigan Wildlife Council website at HereForMIOutdoors.org.