A new group, called the Virginia Wildlife Habitat Coalition, is being organized to make certain wildlife gets a fair shake in the management of national forests and state wildlife management areas.

“We will have a single focus: Increase young forest habitat on Virginia’s public lands,” said Wayne Thacker, the lone staff person. Early successional habitat is a critical component of a balanced and healthy forest, he said.

Rather than individual as members, the coalition membership will be made up of representatives from leading conservation and hunting organizations in Virginia, Thacker said.

The list includes the National Wild Turkey Federation, Quality Deer Management Association, Ruffed Grouse Society, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Virginia Bear Hunters Association, Wildlife Management Institute, Virginia Bowhunters Association, Virginia Deer Hunters Association and the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance.

“The reason for our existence, Virginia’s public forest are remarkable out of balance in terms of age class — way too much older growth and not near enough young forest habitat,” Thacker said. “Without active forest management many game and non-game species will continue to decline, even dangerously close to elimination in large portions of our state’s public land.”

The target areas will be the George Washington and Jefferson national forests and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ Wildlife Management Areas.

“We consider the Forest Service and DGIF as partners in our efforts,” Thacker said.

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