Farm bill biologist earns top award from Pheasants Forever
Farm bill biologist Gillian Brooks earned the prestigious Landowner Service award from Pheasants Forever at a recent national staff meeting in Estes Park, Colo. The award recognizes her outstanding service to landowners carrying out Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s habitat conservation projects.
Brooks, who is stationed in Belle Fourche, S.D., greatly increased the number of landowners enrolled in Sage Grouse Initiative programs, resulting in more than 127,000 acres of enhanced acres for sage grouse. She also secured grant funding for placing 250 sage grouse escape ramps in livestock tanks, and more than four miles of fence markers to save birds from deadly fence collisions.
“When Gillian arrived in 2011, she didn’t waste time getting the word out about SGI to the landowners,” said Sam Lawry, western regional director for Pheasants Forever. “After a mail campaign targeting 80 ranchers and farmers in the core sage grouse areas, the applications started coming in and the word continues to spread as people see the positive results for grazing and grouse.”
Brooks is one of about 100 farm bill biologists working in Pheasants Forever partnership positions. Farm bill biologists assist landowners in designing, developing, and funding habitat improvements on private lands. Through a unique partnership, farm bill biologists are located in local USDA service centers in priority habitat areas throughout the pheasant range.
Seven of the Pheasants Forever biologists are dedicated to the Sage Grouse Initiative. They are part of a team of 24 SGI field staff working with landowners in 11 Western states to put conservation projects on the ground. In 2011, the Natural Resources Conservation Service teamed up with the Intermountain West Joint Venture (a bird habitat partnership group) and more than 30 partners to expand field delivery in rural sage grouse strongholds.
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