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First Year Success for Gamebirds, Songbirds Grasslands
Indiana Ag Connection - 02/11/2020

The DNR's Grasslands for Gamebirds & Songbirds (GGS) initiative made a quantifiable impact in establishing habitat for birds and pollinators in its first year.

Grassland habitat also improves soil health and water quality, which can in turn improve overall human health, and increases recreational opportunities for Hoosiers.

In recent years, native grassland habitat has declined in Indiana and across the country, as have many of the birds and pollinators that rely on that habitat. GGS aims to reverse that trend by providing Indiana landowners with technical and financial assistance to restore that habitat.

In 2019, 138 habitat projects on more than 1,800 acres started establishing native grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs. Efforts to spread the word about declining grasslands, birds, and pollinators have reached more than 850,000 people through the efforts of DNR and its partners. Research and monitoring efforts are also underway to assess the impact newly established habitat has on grassland bird species. More than 300 bird surveys on 14,500 acres were completed in 2019. Additional research is being conducted through Indiana's first National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) focal area.

In coordination with GGS, more than 2,000 acres of private land were enrolled in Access Program Providing Land Enhancements (APPLE) to improve habitat and provide new recreational opportunities. Since APPLE started in 2017, 114 new gamebird hunting opportunities have been provided.

GGS, led by DNR Fish & Wildlife and in partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), brings $2 million of additional conservation funding to DNR and Indiana residents. Conservation funding through RCPP as well as contributions from private citizens, businesses and non-governmental organizations, have increased DNR's capacity to assist landowners with grassland habitat establishment and enhancement projects. This increased capacity includes three new DNR grassland biologist positions, dedicated habitat teams, and increased financial assistance for habitat projects on private land across the landscape.

To learn more or get involved, visit on.IN.gov/Grasslands. A summary of 2019 GGS accomplishments is at dnr.IN.gov/fishwild/files/fw-GGS-2019YearInReview.pdf.

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