Landowners who are interested in improving wild bird habitat on their property have at their disposal a biologist with the Natural Resources and Conservation Service who is ready and eager to help them.
Allie Rath is a wildlife biologist who operates out of the Abilene USDA office. She works in nine counties, including Marion County, helping landowners and wildlife organizations like Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever establish and maintain habitat.
Rath is available to the general public to assist them with technical planning of where to plant and what to plant and also has connections to various sources of financial aid.
“It’s a unique partnership,” she said. “NRCS, local chapters, and Kansas Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism provide support. I can access their programs and ‘sell’ them to landowners.”
In Marion County, she helps Quail Forever plan and manage the old Marion city dump southwest of town as a wildlife site for hunting. She identifies undesirable weeds for spraying and trees for removal and recommends tree and shrub replacements that encourage wildlife habitat.
She said at a time when people are more removed from the land, it’s especially important to keep youth engaged in hunting. Through hunting, she said, youth can learn the importance of conservation and providing wildlife habitat to sustain wildlife for future generations.
“Youth hunting needs to be successful to keep them coming back,” she said. “They need to learn that hunting is not just taking but also giving back and not taking more than the population allows.”
“Allie really knows her stuff and goes at it from the landowner’s perspective,” retired conservation technician and Quail Forever volunteer Dale Ehlers said. “Her time is limited because her services are spread out over such a wide area, but she will contact you and find a time to set something up for you.”
Rath said she has a wonderful job.
“I enjoy going out with landowners and being out on the ground with them,” she said. “I get to earn their trust and help them be successful in encouraging wildlife.
“One man said, ‘I haven’t heard quail on my ground since my grandfather lived here.’ That kind of story makes me feel good.”
Rath may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.