Matt Palmquist – NRCS Supervisory District Conservationist
This month’s Partner Spotlight comes from our NW Kansas Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist, Alex Heeger. Alex is spotlighting Matt Palmquist, Supervisory District Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Matt is currently stationed in Hoxie, KS overseeing the NRCS’ conservation efforts in Sheridan, Thomas, and Sherman counties.
Growing up on a farm in Lindsborg, KS, Matt had an interest in wildlife at a young age and spent most of his youth fishing and bird hunting rather than working on the farm. His passion for the outdoors led him to attend Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS where he received a B.S. in Biology with a wildlife emphasis. After graduation, Matt worked as a Biotech with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism in Southeast Kansas for a short time before heading back to Western Kansas and beginning his career with the NRCS as a Soil Conservationist in Ness City.
After several years in Ness City working in Ness and Rush counties, Matt was transferred to Junction City and worked in Geary and Riley counties as a Soil Conservationist. In 2005, Matt started as the District Conservationist for the NRCS in Gove which eventually transitioned into the Logan county field office covering Logan and Gove counties. Now in Hoxie, Matt works with producers to implement practices to reduce erosion, improve soil health, and improve rangeland management through farm bill programs and technical assistance. He also helps individuals with plans to improve and increase habitat for all types of wildlife.
Matt has been a Pheasants Forever member off and on over the years and during his stint as the Soil Conservationist in Ness City he was involved with the Stubble Ducks chapter of PF in Ness City/Dighton. Matt currently resides in Grainfield with his wife and daughter and outside of work hours, he loves to hunt and spends many hours each year bow hunting and wing shooting. If you’d like to get in touch with Matt to learn more about conservation practices and programs, he can be reached at 785-675-3591 x 1132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Lecuyer – Area Manager, Glen Elder Wildlife Area
This month’s Partner Spotlight comes from North Central Kansas Farm Bill Biologist, Tyson Seirer. Tyson would like to highlight the work that Chris Lecuyer, Wildlife Area Manager with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism, puts in at the Glen Elder Wildlife Area.
Chris has been working at Glen Elder Wildlife Area since 2010, where his main focus has been producing premier pheasant habitat. He envisions the Area as being a place capable of becoming a renowned pheasant hunting destination and spends a lot of time working toward that goal. To do this, Chris has been concentrating on creating brood habitat and the majority of the management practices carried out on the wildlife area in the last 4 years have been implemented with that goal in mind. The work of Chris and his staff is starting to pay off. This spring’s pheasant crow count surveys recorded similar numbers of birds at Glen Elder as records from 10-15 years ago indicated. Those estimates, again, put the Glen Elder Wildlife Area at the top of the list for statewide spring counts.
With all the invasive tree shearing, brome spraying, and burning of old, rank stands of native grass, Chris and his staff have increased the quality of upland habitats on the area which has provided suitable places for pheasants and quail to nest and raise their young. As most readers know, statewide populations of upland game birds are at all-time lows, and Chris’ work at the Glen Elder Wildlife Area is providing essential brood-rearing and nesting habitat that will help the birds maintain viable populations and survive in a landscape that is changing all around them.
When asked what the hardest part about being a land manager is, Chris said, “being patient and waiting for the results of applied practices on the land.” Often you won’t see the results of the work you do until 2 or 3 years down the road. But understanding that the work makes a positive impact does have its rewards and makes the work enjoyable. In fact, Chris’ favorite part of his position is getting out and getting his hands dirty. He likes to do the hands-on work (like burning, habitat restoration, and population surveys) that grows bird populations and indicates where additional management work needs to be done.
Aside from his work with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, Chris also volunteers his time to improve the landscape and raise awareness of hunting and conservation by being an active member of Pheasants Forever chapter—which he’s been a part of for 13 years and currently serves as a Committee member with the Osborne County PF Chapter. When asked about his work with the chapter, Chris is most proud of knowing that their work helps put more habitat on the ground, gets kids more involved in the outdoors, and spreads the word locally that habitat is important. As an avid hunter himself, Chris likes to think that most of his habitat management decisions are based on wanting to achieve good hunting results.
With that in mind, remember that conditions are looking better this spring than they have in the last few years. Glen Elder Wildlife Area’s pheasant numbers are on an upswing, so be sure to made a trip there this fall as one of your hunting stops, and when you do, stop in at the office to thank Chris and his staff for all the work they put in so we, the public, can continue to have a place to hunt.