Pheasants Forever testifies before U.S. Senate subcommittee,
supports move toward cellulosic biofuels
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[April 10, 2007]
BROOKINGS, S.D. -- Pheasants Forever's Dave
Nomsen testified at a field hearing for the Energy Subcommittee of
the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee last week. Pheasants Forever
was invited to offer its perspective at a national discussion on
cellulosic energy production and the 2007 Farm Bill. Pheasants
Forever held the distinction as the only national conservation
organization speaking at the April 4 hearing, titled "The Next
Generation of Biofuels: Cellulosic Ethanol and the 2007 Farm Bill."
While ethanol is typically produced from grains such as corn, it can
also be produced from cellulose contained in warm-season native
grasses such as switchgrass.
"This biofuels arena as related to
perennial cellulosic-based ethanol is the biggest and newest element
of the 2007 Farm Bill, and it offers new challenges, opportunities
and threats to wildlife habitat conservation," said Dave Nomsen,
Pheasants Forever 's vice president of government affairs. "We
certainly thank South Dakota senator and ranking committee member
John Thune for allowing us the opportunity to have a seat at the
table at the onset of this debate. Today's hearing marked an
important starting point on this national issue, and Pheasants
Forever is pleased to see the debate broaden from grain-based
ethanol to one that includes perennial cellulosic-based ethanol."
Over the next five years, the biofuels industry is expected to
make significant progress toward commercial cellulosic ethanol
production, and the 2007 Farm Bill's biofuels and agriculture
policies will play a critical role in directing this development.
Pheasants Forever recognizes the rush to develop biofuel crops to
alleviate energy dependence on fossil fuels; however, the
organization believes the U.S. cannot inadvertently sacrifice many
of the natural resource conservation victories achieved over the
past two decades via the Conservation Reserve Program -- the most
successful conservation program in U.S. history -- at the expense of
that biofuel race.
"Pheasants Forever agrees that native prairie grasses such as
switchgrass can make a significant contribution to our country's
energy needs," Nomsen said. "But protecting the benefits of CRP for
soil, water and wildlife must be the starting point for the
discussion about the future of cellulosic biofuels programs.
Pheasants Forever offers a strong call for research and development
and consideration of parameters that can make biofuels
conservation-friendly and wildlife-friendly. There may be
far-reaching benefits from sustainable, next-generation biofuels if
wildlife objectives are built into the programs."
Potential benefits from such objectives would include enhanced
soil productivity and water quality from native grasses with deep
root systems, as well as landowner revenue from the sale of biomass,
carbon credits, recreational opportunities and seed sales.
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Pheasants Forever recommends careful consideration of these
critical areas of the biofuels debate:
annual crops -- Perennial crops offer much more in terms of
environmental benefits for soil, water and wildlife conservation
when compared with annually planted crops.
-- Annual harvest with complete plant removal offers limited
environmental benefits, but scenarios with a 50 percent harvest
goal can provide important habitat for ring-necked pheasants and
white-tailed deer. Also, it's important to harvest these crops
outside of nesting seasons in spring and early summer. Leaving
stubble height of at least 12-15 inches may ensure adequate
residual cover to attract nesting hens the following season.
mixed species stands -- Monocultures of any grass are extremely
limited in providing wildlife habitat, whereas mixed grass
stands, including forbs or flowers, can provide very valuable
habitat for multiple species.
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are nonprofit conservation
organizations dedicated to the protection and enhancement of
pheasant, quail and other wildlife populations in North America
through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness and
education. The two groups have more than 115,000 members in 700
local chapters across the continent. In 2006, Pheasants Forever
spent more than $33.8 million completing 23,552 projects benefiting
wildlife on over 460,000 acres. Since the organization's inception
in 1982, Pheasants Forever has spent nearly $200 million on wildlife
habitat projects and conservation, benefiting wildlife on 4.4
For additional information about Pheasants Forever, please visit
[Text from news release received from