Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
- Over the better part of the last year, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has faced increased, misguided scrutiny from the public over proposed habitat restoration efforts on state-owned lands.
- Grasslands once dominated the landscape in much of the Southeast, and now it is estimated that over 90% of grasslands in the South have been lost due to changes in land use and land management practices.
- On August 15, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) signed onto a letter, authored by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF), to the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission in support of the TWRA’s continued efforts to restore grassland habitats in Tennessee.
Why It Matters: With the increasing loss of grassland habitats, many popular game and non-game wildlife species are experiencing negative effects due to lack of habitat diversity on the landscape, resulting in a loss of opportunity for sportsmen and women.
With decreasing levels of active forest management on public lands in the South, we are seeing the negative impacts that passive management has on habitat diversity. Many wildlife species require a diversity of habitats to thrive. For example, wild turkeys utilize closed canopy mixed pine/oak forests where minimal sunlight reaches the forest floor, resulting in little undergrowth. However, grassland habitats, which contain a minimal number of trees and receives sunlight throughout the day, are also critical for wild turkeys due to their importance in successful brood rearing. The vast number of insects to feed on, ease of travel, and the adequate cover that grasslands provide are critical for wild turkey poults. Both habitats are important, and both must be recognized for the value they bring to biodiversity on the landscape.
The TWRA recognizes the need to restore grasslands on many state-owned Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), but they have experienced pushback from some interest groups that are opposed to the timber management necessary to restore grasslands.
CSF, TWF, and many other conservation organizations understand the importance of grasslands supporting robust and diverse wildlife populations and wildlife-associated recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women.
CSF will continue to work alongside our partners to support the TWRA’s efforts to conduct science-based habitat management projects
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