MeatEater Working for Wildlife Tour spotlights volunteer efforts in De Soto National Forest

Volunteers improved wildlife habitat by seeding clover and planting crabapple and American chestnut trees and installing wood duck boxes.
Published: Sep. 23, 2023 at 5:44 PM CDT
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WIGGINS, Miss. (WLOX) - MeatEater, a popular outdoor hunting television series, and the National Deer Association teamed up with about 100 volunteers as part of a National Public Lands Day program to improve the Leaf River Wildlife Management Area of the De Soto National Forest.

Volunteers improved wildlife habitat by seeding clover and planting crabapple and American chestnut trees and installing wood duck boxes. They also worked on restoring an administrative building.

“We appreciate the overwhelming support we’ve received from the community, the National Deer Association, and MeatEater,” said De Soto District Ranger Anne Casey. “We have so many shared goals with individuals and groups for a healthier forest. It’s an honor to be part of a national forest that people care enough about to volunteer their time.”

The De Soto Ranger District event, held on the Leaf River Wildlife Management Area managed by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, is part of the MeatEater Working for Wildlife Tour, an initiative to shine a spotlight on the many volunteer efforts by conservation organizations on public lands.

“We’re happy to be part of this volunteer effort on the De Soto National Forest,” said MeatEater’s Mark Kenyon, author of “That Wild Country” and host of the industry-leading “Wired To Hunt” podcast. “Unbeknownst to many, there are hundreds of events put on across the country every year by conservation organizations bringing together hunters and anglers to volunteer their time to improve wildlife habitat, restore ecosystems, and clean up public lands and waters.”

Saturday’s program was also part of the 30th National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest single-day volunteer event for public lands.

“It’s an opportunity to connect with new communities, an event that creates kinship among those working together for a common goal to improve our public lands” said Matt Ross, Director of Conservation with the National Deer Association.

By 2026, the National Deer Association has a goal of improving 1 million acres of public land, an initiative that includes the Biloxi Flats Restoration Project on the De Soto Ranger District, a stewardship agreement to cut and remove loblolly and slash pine species, restore native bogs, remove nonnative species, and replant 270 acres to longleaf pine.

“We’ve been working with the De Soto for several years. We are committed to working with the Forest Service and other partners to improve wildlife habitat,” Ross said.

Mississippi Power provided lunch for the volunteers.

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