Conservation News

Local North Dakota NWTF Chapter Recognized as Volunteer Organization of the Year

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — North Dakota’s NWTF Souris River Basin Longbeards Chapter was recently awarded by the North Dakota Forest Service with the agency’s Volunteer Organization of the Year Trees Award. The local NWTF Chapter received recognition for its annual tree giveaway program, which has provided landowners with 1,500 to 2,000 free trees—annually—to improve habitat for wildlife on private property.

“It’s an informal program that started about 20 years ago,” said DJ Randolph, Souris River Basin Longbeards president. “Living in rural North Dakota, habitat for wild turkeys is sparse, and it is disappearing as agriculture keeps growing. We all joke about ‘that one tree we got on the landscape.’ This program is our way to give back to wildlife and keep vital trees for wildlife on the landscape.”

Local landowners participate in the program by filling out a form each year and applying to receive trees. The stipulation is that the trees must be used to increase wildlife habitat and not for ornamentation. Over the last decade, the chapter has been able to fulfill every application, providing between 1,500 trees and 2,000 trees each year.

The program is made possible thanks to the local chapter’s annual fundraising efforts, contributions from the NWTF North Dakota State Chapter Super Fund and local nurseries that grow and provide the cold-hardy trees for the North Dakotan landscape.

“The Souris River Basin Longbeards’ tree giveaway program is a prime example of how our grassroot volunteers make an impact for the betterment of our natural resources,” said Clayton Lenk, NWTF district biologist for Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. “Our volunteers work hard to make this program possible, and while they do not do it for recognition, we are happy to see them get their much-deserved commendation.”

The North Dakota Forest Service’s Volunteer Organization of the Year Award is presented to an organization that exhibits the true spirit of leadership, dedication and volunteerism by planning, conducting and maintaining outstanding forestry projects.

The award will be presented Sept. 7 to representatives of the Souris River Basin Lonbeards during the Trees Bowl at North Dakota State University.

With its 20-year history, the program has left the North Dakota landscape in a much-improved state for wildlife, demonstrating the tangible impact of the NWTF’s grassroots volunteers.

“We have one landowner who has improved his property through our program, and it has ultimately led to a great relationship where he lets us host mentored hunts for turkey and deer on his land,” Randolph said. “We can show kids and novice hunters the fruits of his labor and sweat equity that goes into creating better habitat and hunting opportunities; you cannot have hunting without conservation.”

About the National Wild Turkey Federation
Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has positively impacted over 23 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The NWTF has also invested over $9 million into wild turkey research to guide the management of the wild turkey population and to ensure sustainable populations into perpetuity. The organization continues to deliver its mission by working across boundaries on a landscape scale through its Four Shared Values: clean and abundant water, healthy forests and wildlife habitat, resilient communities and robust recreational opportunities. With the help of its dedicated members, partners and staff, the NWTF continues its work to provide Healthy Habitats. and Healthy Harvests. for future generations.

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