Pheasants Forever remains conservation force

PFlogoGiven the number of people who hunt, fish and love the outdoors in Carver County, it’s no surprise that Carver County Pheasants Forever (CCPF) remains a powerful force in local habitat conservation efforts.
The group, one of 600+ Pheasants Forever chapters in the United States and Canada, will hold its 27th annual banquet at the Hamburg Hall on Saturday, Jan. 19. The event is a major fundraiser for the group, which was created 26 years ago. Initially featuring only 12 members, CCPF now boasts more than 350 members.
As explained on the CCPF website, Pheasants Forever empowers county chapters with the responsibility to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds will be spent. Under this grass roots model, members are able to see the fruits of their efforts locally while belonging to a larger national organization that has a voice on federal and state conservation policy.
Bob Stalberger, president of CCPF, said some of the chapter’s recent habitat projects include wetland restoration and the planting of upland native tallgrass prairie buffers but because of the chapter’s location and land prices, CCPF can’t afford to purchase land so its main focus is on youth activities and programs.
“Every year, our chapter sends two youth to a week-long upland bird camp at Deep Portage in Hackensack, Minn.,”  Stalberger said. “Every year, our chapter funds youth pheasant hunts at Wings of Watertown, one for kids in Carver County, and one for the Watertown and the Waconia High School Conservation Clubs.”
CCPF also sponsors the Waconia and Lester Prairie-Holy Trinity trap shooting teams.
“We help sponsor a yearly wood duck box build day held at Burns Excavating, which is a huge hit for parents and kids,” Stalberger continued. “We are starting a Young Guns program in 2013 which will include at least four shooting events throughout the year aimed at getting kids of all ages outdoors and shooting.”
Stalberger noted the chapter has BB guns and a trap throwing machine and everything else necessary to excite kids of all ages — all in a controlled, safe environment that will keep parents comfortable.
“We and many other groups are currently in partnership with the Hamburg Hunt and Fish Club helping with a land purchase that will be open to public hunting,” Stalberger added.
To learn more about CCPF, citizens may want to consider attending the banquet on Jan. 19, which gets underway at 5 p.m. Tickets are still available — download an order form at  www.carvercountypheasantsforever.org.
Adult tickets are $60, which includes dinner, a one-year membership to CCPF, and a year’s subscription to Pheasants Forever magazine. Spouse tickets are $30 (includes dinner), and a Rigneck/youth under 15 ticket is $30, which features dinner, a free prize and a one-year membership for Pheasants Forever youth magazine.
“We also have other levels of sponsorships and raffle underwriters available for companies or persons looking to make a donation for a great cause and get some great advertising for their donation,” Stalberger said.
Usually, the banquet attracts around 300 to 400 people but attendance has been down in recent years due to the economy. In an effort to increase attendance, Stalberger said CCPF is offering great prizes and new raffles. Some of the bigger prizes include guns, a Banks deer stand, a 42-inch LED television, a four-person fishing trip on Kabetogama.
“(Increasing attendance) is very important to us because we need to get people to the banquet in order to raise money for all of the youth programs and projects we sponsor or hold every year,” he said.
Outside of the banquet, CCPF meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the Waconia American Legion (233 S Olive St.). To learn more, visit www.carvercountypheasantsforever.org.

Contact Todd Moen at todd.moen@ecm-inc.com

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