Pheasant Fest will focus on South Dakota’s grasslands

Pete Bauman SDSU Extension Range Field Specialist
Farm Forum

For starters, to bring some closure to my last column, the Vikings lost. Anyway, it’s late winter and time to think about spring management plans. But, planning isn’t always fun, and it is often hard to get started. So why not get started in a fun and engaging atmosphere? We have a unique opportunity coming to our backyard in a couple of weeks as Pheasants Forever will be bringing the annual Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic to the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls from Feb. 16-18, with show hours starting at noon on Friday and ending Sunday at 4 p.m.

South Dakota is undeniably the nations Pheasant Capital, but 2018 will be the first time this event has ever been held in our state. This comes at a time when our status as the go-to state for pheasants has slipped some due to lower populations tied directly to habitat loss. Preserving quality habitats is important; followed closely by establishing and maintaining habitat in areas where grasslands have been degraded. What better time to bring this event to South Dakota to focus on bringing back the birds. Because Pheasant Fest will be in South Dakota, a special emphasis on grasslands will resonate throughout the three-day event.

Several local organizations are supporting and promoting Pheasant Fest, including SDSU and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition, and it sounds like it will be a great three days of activities and fun.

Jim Faulstich, chair of the South Dakota Grassland Coalition from Hyde County, and Pheasants Forever Senior Farm Bill Biologist Eric Magedanz from Codington County will be teaming up to deliver their talk entitled “Bird and Herds” on the Habitat Stage on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m., on Feb. 17 at 11 a.m., and again on Feb. 18 at 3 p.m. This talk will focus on the real opportunities that can be found when integrating livestock into wildlife habitat management.

Pheasant Fest will also be featuring a precision ag workshop on Feb. 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This workshop will focus on utilizing harvest data to determine not only which areas of farm fields are most profitable, but also which areas loose money, as those are the areas that may be ripe for ‘precision conservation’ efforts such as cover or forage crops, habitat projects, or wildlife enhancements. Online pre-registration for the precision ag workshop is only $35 and is separate from general admission.

As always, Pheasant Fest will feature a Landowners Help Desk were professional staff from Pheasants Forever, wildlife agencies, and others will be available to assist landowners with their habitat and land management related questions.

To learn more about Pheasant Fest, visit pheasantsforever.org or the Events tab on iGrow.org.