Wildlife and the Outdoors
Tony Burgett, Equipment Operator II
Wildlife managers are constantly seeking new ways to develop cost efficient access to remote areas for hunting and other outdoor activities. Sportsmen who frequent public lands are accustomed to areas that are designated for “walk-in use” only. These areas have minimal disturbance associated with them. The basic concept behind this management approach is simple – you must walk to use. This management strategy is accomplished by preventing access of motorized vehicles. Vehicles can quickly deteriorate even the best dirt roads, disturb animal habitat and create a nuisance to those nearby. The benefits of walk-in areas are a great asset to not only public lands, but can likewise benefit privately owned or leased properties.
These goals can be easily achieved on property which has existing secondary roads that can lead directly into wildlife openings. A prime location for “walk-in use” will allow for blocking the road and allowing for a short walk of no more than a half of a mile to the designated area. Other suitable locations include clearcuts, agriculture fields, areas prone to flooding or topography, which has steep inclines and is subject to erosion.
After selecting a designated area for use, make any necessary repairs to the access road. A tractor may be necessary during this process. Only an experienced operator should perform this work. Safety should always receive top priority in any management plan. After completing all road repairs, grass should be planted on the road and along the roadsides. Grass will protect against erosion and increase the number of acres of available food and habitat. Fertilize according to a soil sample, which will determine the amount of lime needed and type and amount fertilizer required. Wildlife biologists can provide helpful information on what will grow, grass selection, planting dates and options to best benefit wildlife.
Once planting has been completed, restrict the use of motorized vehicles in the area. Vehicle use should be limited to an as needed basis. This can be accomplished by erecting gates or earth banks at designated stopping points. Signage will effectively communicate restrictions and usage.
“Walk-in use” areas will produce virtually undisturbed sections of land and substantially increase the opportunity for a great hunting or other outdoor experience. It may take a little more effort to access an area that is designated for foot travel only, but you are often rewarded with signs of wildlife that are often unattainable from a vehicle.
For more information, contact Tony Burgett, Equipment Operator II at 223 County Lane, Jasper, AL, 35503.