The New Mexico & Texas Chapters of Backcountry Hunter & Anglers are honored to receive the USFS’s 2023 Prairie Partner Award! This award is for external partners that have demonstrated resource stewardship, a willingness to provide funding and other resources to Grassland projects and have produced innovative practices and results.
Our grassroots volunteers have driven hundreds of miles to reach the grasslands and execute 6 full days of field work since the project was launched in 2021. Hunters and non-hunters have worked alongside USFS Biologist Kristen Warren and her staff to modify/verify 88.4 miles of fenceline, replace barbed wire with smooth wire on 2.2 miles of water exclosure fence, and improve habitat permeability for 29,376 ac or 45.91 sq. mi of this highly valuable shortgrass prairie ecosystem.
Pronghorn have evolved to thrive in vast and uninterrupted landscapes without high impediments and boundary fencing presents a significant challenge to their ability to safely move across the grasslands to access the food, water, space, and cover they need to survive. They prefer to crawl under the bottom wire of fencing as opposed to jumping over the top.
Modifying these fencelines so that the bottom wire is 14-16” high and any new fences’ lowest wire is smooth (not barbed), will bring this fencing in line with current USFS policy and increase connectivity. Because the Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands encompass approximately 230,000 acres and is dissected by thousands of miles of barbed wire fencing there is more work to be done. The necessary fencing is used to demarcate property boundaries and facilitate cattle grazing for 140 individual permit holders.
Through this work we simultaneously benefit pronghorn, public land hunters and recreators, and ranchers. This year's work was amplified through grant funding provided by the National Forest Foundation to match funds provided by both BHA chapters. Thank you to everyone that has supported this long-term project.
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