Wild turkeys and a variety of wildlife species in Hubbard County are benefiting from a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Park Rapids Tall Pine Toms chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.
For the past two years, the Tall Pine Toms chapter conducted habitat enhancement projects on 796 acres of state forest land in the Park Rapids area. The projects were designed to improve both current and future turkey habitat, while also benefiting a variety of wildlife species, such as deer, bear, squirrels, grouse and songbirds.
Project activities included brush cutting to eliminate competition and encourage oak regeneration, planting oak as a future food source, and planting pine seedlings for future roosting sites.
Habitat management, research and partnerships between the DNR and NWTF have created healthy wild turkey populations and excellent turkey hunting opportunities in Minnesota. With funding through the Conservation Partners Legacy grant program, turkey habitat improvement projects have continued throughout the state.
The Hubbard County projects were funded with a $13,000 grant from the NWTF Super Fund. The Super Fund grant was used as a 10 percent match to secure about $120,000 in Conservation Partners Legacy funding. Funding for the CPL Grant Program comes from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008.
Other turkey habitat projects using CPL grant funding include:
- Prairie restoration in Whitewater Wildlife Management Area in Winona County
- Hardwood seeding in Plum Creek Wildlife Management Area in Murray County
- Prescribed burning for oak savannah in Sherburne County
Wild turkey restoration is a conservation success story and the expansion of their populations in Minnesota has resulted in turkey viewing and hunting opportunities throughout much of the state.