Cooperative Initiatives Benefit Wildlife, Habitat and Local Communities in Iowa


By Jamie Cook

It was Aldo Leopold, an Iowa native and a person widely viewed as the father of American conservation, who wrote, “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

Conventional thinking suggests that applying conservation practices to farmland automatically diminishes economic returns. In Iowa, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever is working to change that mindset. We have learned that creating high quality wildlife habitat for public use can generate tourism revenue dollars that cause our small communities to thrive. When we couple these actions, it is not only the wildlife, soil, and water that are enhanced, it is the people, the businesses, and the communities we call home that truly profit.

Since 2017, the Southwest Communities for Pheasants and Farming Initiative has been working with growers, businesses, the tourism industry, and local Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever chapters, to create areas where farm profitability, wildlife habitat, hunting access, and their economic benefits are felt by small towns in southwest Iowa.

Since its start, over 1,000 acres of new walk-in hunting access have been created, training for tourism professionals has been supplied, and farmers have been able to increase their profits on the family farm. The positive implications of this cannot be understated. We truly have a chance to realize Leopold’s vision about the connection between land & community by working together with businesses, chapters, and our agency partners.

This story originally appeared in the 2021 Fall Issue of the Quail Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and would like to be the first to read more great upland content like this, become a Quail Forever member today!