mAPPING IS KEY
WHY MAPPING YOUR CO-OP CAN BE CRUCIAL
PHOTO / HUNTERRA
"Mapping is an essential tool for professionals and landowners to better understand wildlife behavior, movements, and habitat condition. without maps, providing insight to this critical information, land management is like throwing darts at a wall. our work is more accurate and impactful when we have access to detailed maps."
Matt dye / land & legacy
MAPS ARE ROADMAPS TO SUCCESS
If you plan to lose weight, you make a weight loss plan. If you're planning a road trip, most likely you look at google or apple maps on your phone to navigate the highways. Starting and growing a co-op is not different. Maps provide wildlife cooperatives a roadmap to success, a visual of current growth, and a hope for expansion in the future. Simply, maps connect landowners and landscape visually, and are crucial to documenting co-op success or growth.
I always start out with asking the same question to co-op leaders: "Do you have a map?" Most do, whether on google earth, phone app, printed qPublic parcel map, or a Hunterra map. The quality, type, and size varies - but the reason for creation remains the same: documentation. Co-ops form in your small town biscuit joints, where the old men drink coffee and talk about crops. They form in cabins over a camp fire in Appalachia. They form in fields across the Midwest. But no matter where they form, they have the same goal - combining acreages and parcels to benefit the wildlife, as well as the people that manage them. We make maps not to brag, but to document. Maps are the basis of co-op success. As more parcels and members are added, your reach gets bigger, each new property has multiple neighbors, and countless relationships already formed between the member and those neighbors. Use this to your advantage. Use a map to show the number of people working together. Co-ops spread across the landscape, and documenting them is key to the future of wildlife conservation.
Co-ops are living, breathing, ecosystems that encompass landscapes that serve wildlife and humans in different ways. Property boundaries - in most cases - are not physical barriers to wildlife. These parcel boundaries are lines on a county tax assessor's map that indicate ownership by a private citizen, business, or government entity. Wildlife do not cross boundaries solely based on your deer management strategies, or with regard for who owns a property. Wildlife follow corridors of suitable habitat: natural areas that provide them with the resources they need to live and thrive on the landscape. In this way, viewing you co-op through a landscape-level map can provide a look into how wildlife see landscapes - through fence rows, hardwood bottoms, secluded patches of old fields tucked in between two oak ridges, or human development that can hinder their movement. By creating a map, we can make habitat management decisions for our own property, decisions on how to use co-op growth, or just document current co-op extent.
Conversation Starters for Conservation
Maps are a great way to start the conservation about co-op growth. Showing current co-op size, membership holes, and any recent growth can help start conversation with potential members, or open up dialogue about the neighbors down the road. They may provide context for where you found sheds, heard gobblers in the spring, or saw a covey of quail this past summer. Maps can provide a basic landscape ecology lesson when members realize that a mature buck is using multiple properties, that he may summer on one side of the co-op and then return each fall to another part. This brings the map into the conversation for not only tree-stand placement, but for any future habitat management goals, a co-op prescribed fire plan, or areas of co-op expansion because a current member "knows someone that hunts over here." These are all keys to starting conservation conversations, and maps help facilitate them.
About the Contributors:
Co-op Specialist / National Wildlife Cooperative
CEO / Hunterra
(Click on the Hunterra logo for for more info on getting your map today)
HABITAT MANAGEMENT PLANNING
Habitat management can be completed by anyone - that's what makes it so important. However, strategic management to help wildlife across a landscape can take your wildlife management to the next level. When looking to conduct Timber Stand Imporvment (TSI) - either with a chainsaw or through a timber sale - planning across a co-op can make your impact exponentially increase. Providing areas of TSI across a few square miles to increase this cover type in your neighborhood (and not just on your property) can improve forest health for many species and even attract certain wildlife species (songbirds, upland birds, and insects) to your area.
This landscape management with TSI, prescribed fire, or even early successional management through old-field disking can be planned out using a map (see Hunterra's new dry-erase map). You can log this past management on a .kmz file and carry it on your phone in google earth or any mapping service directly to your tree stand or co-op meeting. The benefits of maps on habitat management planning are just beginning to percolate through wildlife conservation communities, and we will be sharing more on this in the future.