With more and more acres being put into production even after the last corn boom has come back down, and farms becoming larger and larger, less habitat is available. The windbreak on old farm sites have been taken out, or the whole site itself has been converted to production. Many rural homes just aren't needed; with the increased efficiency of modern machines farmers can cover more ground faster.
Also cities are growing as fast as administrators can push, with tax abatements and promises of jobs, attractions and services. In Iowa this urban sprawl happens on some of the most important farmland in the world, putting pressure on farmers to produce more on less.
With remaining habitat dwindling and becoming more and more fragmented, intentional conservation efforts are needed. Mike Fenn's story shares his experience and feelings on the topic, this link also includes a playlist of other participants in the program.
Here in Iowa we don't have Sage Grouse, but we do have the Ring-Necked Pheasant. Originally from China, pheasants were accidentally introduced into Iowa when a windstorm damaged the pens of game breeder William Benton of Cedar Falls releasing approximately 2,000 of the birds. Benton’s birds spread north and west and constitute Iowa’s founding stock. The DNR began stocking pheasants around 1910 with most regions of Iowa receiving large stockings of ring-necks by 1930. The ring-neck has since become the most important gamebird in Iowa with an estimated statewide population of 4 to 6 million birds.
According to The Des Moines Register, pheasants could be key to saving rural Iowa, farming and the environment. Read that story here-
Here is an Iowa State University Extension video explaining how habitat can be incorporated into your working farm.
Have a great week, enjoy the fall colors and cooler weather!
Don't forget to save your leaves!