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  • Eric Ressel, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist

Prestigious Statewide Conservation Award Given to Local Man

Recently, significant statewide recognition in conservation achievement was given, and a particularly prestigious award was presented from Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever to one of our excellent, local QF members, Mark Kolsrud. In

an applicant pool with dozens of other ambitious conservationists seeking the title throughout the entire state of Minnesota, the Gold Standard Landowner Award was won by this outstanding outdoorsman.

Mark is an extraordinary man, conservationist, outdoor educator, hunter, wildlife enthusiast and man of faith. There are many reasons why Mark won this award, including actively engaging and encouraging our youth in the outdoors and providing them with hands-on experiences that will enhance the environment and allow them to increase their knowledge of wildlife ecology and conservation. This includes allowing our local Southeast Quail Forever chapter to provide open invitations to our local students to visit the family farm for various field trips and habitat projects.

This past fall, the Spring Grove high school students were accompanied to sites with well-established annual food plots, consisting of milo, pearl millet and sunflowers. We explained to the students that diversity is key for providing suitable protection from predators and ample foraging opportunities, dusting sites and thick thermal shelter. We explained that bobwhites need dense cover of native shrubs, brambles, conifers, perennial forbs, bunchgrasses and annual

weeds. We taught them that the native forbs and wildflowers will especially encourage abundant insect production, a main source of protein for baby bobwhites. We reviewed beneficial annual weeds that provide excellent sources of protein, such as giant ragweed and various amaranth species, from the undesirable cool-season grasses that smother native species, such as smooth brome or reed canary grass. We look forward to working with our local trap shooting club from Spring Grove once again in planting additional annual food plots. We also hope to enlist the help from our high school students with creating well-protected buffers or ecotones, through the important practice of edge-feathering.

Mark is now one of the first producers involved with our Farm Bill programs, specifically EQIP, that is providing payments for edge-feathering, and he has 3 acres enrolled, along with 12 acres of native prairie for pollinators, and another 7 acres of native grass cover for upland birds. His pollinator habitat will consist of seeding diverse native forbs and wildflowers specifically for honeybees, monarch butterflies, native pollinators and insects.

On his own and in the near future, Mark is also electing a new tenant on his farm with the objective of converting hundreds of tillable acres that are currently being conventionally farmed into native grass production. The valleys will be dense with native warm-season grass and will benefit the area’s huge numbers of whitetail deer, wild turkeys, ring-nick pheasants and growing number of bobwhite quail.

An incredible sense of stewardship seems to drive Mark, along with his profound faith. Anyone who knows Mark will attest to his strong spirituality, humility, selfless nature and generous spirit. He is literally the model for a landowner who has a concrete conservation-minded philosophy, and he does it all for the right reasons, which is testament to his moral upbringing and rock-solid foundation of family. As a chapter we are incredibly lucky to have Mark as an active member and mentor. I hope he realizes how grateful we are to have his guidance and his blessing to implement so much conservation in one location.

Along with such a significant achievement, Mark and his father Wally were also recently recognized in great depth in the February 27th edition of the Caledonia Argus. The article elaborates on what makes the farm uniquely special, describes the Kolsrud’s future aspirations and their personal objectives in continuing to provide excellent management and exceptional wildlife habitat on the farm. If you have an online subscription to the Caledonia Argus, you can read the article by clicking this link:

If you aren’t aware, the Southeast Minnesota chapter of Quail Forever will be having its annual fundraising banquet on Saturday, March 30, in Caledonia, MN. If you would like to learn more, click the link below to access details and our event registration form.

If you would like to talk to Eric Ressel about habitat management for bobwhite quail on your southeast Minnesota property, his contact details are as follows:

Eric J. Ressel, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist

Quail Forever & Pheasants Forever

805 N. Hwy 44/76, Caledonia, MN 55921

Work: 507-724-5261 x111

Mobile: 262-339-7586

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