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NORTH DAKOTA — The National Wild Turkey Federation is making repairing riparian areas and improving land access for hunters a priority in the Great Plains states.

“Unfortunately, wildlife habitat along flowing waterways has declined in overall health and condition in western North Dakota and South Dakota, and in eastern Montana and Wyoming,” said Jared McJunkin, NWTF regional biologist for the Great Plains states. “With active work through this program, riparian forests can be restored, which will benefit wild turkeys and many other valuable wildlife species.”

Through the Northern Plains Riparian Restoration Initiative, the NWTF improves habitat along rivers and streams and around roost areas to benefit both game and non-game species, including wild turkeys, bald eagles and many types of waterfowl and mammals. The project also educates landowners on how they can improve their properties for wildlife.

The NWTF also works to improve riparian habitat through its involvement with the Northern Great Plains Joint Venture, which consists of federal and state wildlife agencies, non-government conservation organizations, an energy company and a private landowner. The members are working cooperatively to improve the value and quality of riparian habitat and wildlife on more than 90,000 acres in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

McJunkin joined the Northern Great Plains Joint Venture management board as an NWTF representative in 2007, to help provide valuable input on how to improve riparian habitat in ways that will mean better conditions for all types of wildlife.

“The Northern Great Plains Joint Venture’s members work with conservation organizations like the NWTF that lead national, regional and state conservation efforts to benefit resident game birds,” said Ken Sambor, coordinator of the Northern Great Plains Joint Venture. “The NWTF is a valuable partner because improvements that are meant to improve wild turkey habitat also provide substantial benefits for many other birds and wildlife species.”

More Places to Hunt in the Great Plains
In a continued effort to offer hunters more places to hunt, the NWTF’s North Dakota State Chapter and its partners have purchased a 233-acre addition to the Smith Grove Wildlife Management Area in central North Dakota’s Oliver County.

Unique because it is home to the only free-flowing stretch of the Missouri River, the Smith Grove WMA represents some the river’s best remaining riparian habitat and provides resources for wild turkeys and other wildlife.

With help from its project partners, the NWTF is making additional public land available to hunters in North Dakota, which, according to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, spend $133 million and 1 million days afield pursuing their sport each year.

“The NWTF’s North Dakota State Chapter is presented with many opportunities to purchase small, fragmented tracts of land throughout the state,” said DuWayne Miller, NWTF North Dakota State Chapter president. “Remaining focused on expanding existing parcels of public land instead of purchasing a few acres randomly is challenging, but will serve our wildlife resources and public-land hunters well in the future. We’ve stretched our dollars to help expand an existing WMA and protect important riparian habitat from development, which will result in more stable and diverse wildlife populations and high-quality hunting experiences.”

Project partners on this land purchase include the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, The Nature Conservancy, the Northern Great Plains Joint Venture and Friends of the Missouri River.

For more information about the NWTF visit www.nwtf.org or call (800) THE-NWTF.