Upland Game Bird Habitat Legacy Partnership, 2008–2023

Final Report


Layne Seward, B.Sc., P.Biol.


In 2008, Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) and Pheasants Forever Canada formed a partnership to create the Habitat Legacy Partnership (HLP) project in southern Alberta. This project had several long-term objectives: 1) increase the amount of habitat for upland game bird survival and recruitment; 2) increase access to upland hunting in select areas; and 3) increase landowner awareness of habitat needs associated with upland game birds. To engage with landowners, we participated in more than 20 tradeshows and community events in southern Alberta throughout the years and hosted a series of landowner workshops focused on upland game bird conservation. We worked directly with 13 landowners to provide guidance and assist with habitat enhancements. The HLP project has improved upland game bird habitat on over 1,200 acres of land through a variety of enhancements, including seeding over 130 acres with perennial blends of species important for nesting and brood-rearing habitats, fencing off sensitive areas, planting over 19,000 shrubs, installing fabric mulch and drip irrigations systems to enhance shrub survival, and implementing best management practices that benefit agricultural operations and wildlife.

To gauge the success of the habitat enhancements, we monitored shrub survival and growth, conducted biodiversity surveys, and set up photo points to capture the change of habitat over time. We had high rates of shrub growth and survival in the first two years; however, the impact of habitat enhancements on the bird community were more difficult to detect. Sequential photos at set points provided an effective visual representation of change in habitat over time. Overall, the HLP project has been a success as a catalyst for engaging dozens of landowners in southern Alberta and has led to stewardship activities. Furthermore, the HLP project has fostered landowner relationships that have helped spur several other ongoing projects within ACA that are aimed at improving upland habitat stewardship, as well as hunter satisfaction and access. The success of the HLP project and other upland habitat stewardship projects has likely contributed to the increase in pheasant licence sales in Alberta since the mid-2000s.

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