Creating and conserving
Winners of the first Bobcat Company Create and Conserve habitat event, Jay and Samantha Prier, experienced a one-of-a-kind wildlife area makeover
The Prier family (pictured left to right): Andi, Samantha, Sawyer, Jay and Hunter.
Living in the country, conserving land and raising a family are what Jay and Samantha Prier always planned to do. They took steps to selectively purchase their dream property, built a home — doing much of the work themselves — and made a to-do list of outdoor projects.
The Priers’ to-do list got a little shorter when Bobcat Company sent a team and equipment to the Prier homestead last fall to award the winners of the inaugural Create and Conserve Habitat Event. Also onsite were Rick and Julie Kreuter, co-hosts of the TV show “Beyond the Hunt,” on the Outdoor Channel, to assist with a variety of projects.
Located just outside of Mondamin, Iowa, in the Loess Hills area, the Priers own 120 acres. Sixty-two of the acres are tillable, and the Priers rent that portion to a farmer who plants crops. The remaining property is a collection of native grasses, plants and trees, and Jay says it has been negatively affected by invasive species.
“We bought this land in 2009, and we moved here in July 2011,” Jay says. “We wanted a property that had the right mixture of agriculture and natural habitat, and we found it with this piece. It was important to have a good building location on the property for the house because we intended to install a pond, stock it and create a natural habitat for waterfowl, big game and upland game birds. Now, when we’re sitting outside on the deck, enjoying the evening, we don’t hear anything but nature. Our kids have a big playroom — outside. They need to spend their time outside to enjoy, understand and learn life outside. Life isn’t on TV and it’s not in the mall. It’s really living in the outdoors and understanding how to conserve the land.”
A Bobcat T770 compact track loader and tree spade plant new cedar trees along an area that was cleared using a Bobcat excavator and loader.
A crew from Bobcat Company, led by Marketing Manager Robert Gilles, arrived at the Prier home last fall to fulfill the conservation portion of the prize. Accompanied by a small yet powerful group of Bobcat® machines and attachments, the crew had an ambitious list of projects to tackle that week:
- • Clear 20-plus acres of overgrowth
- • Create a food plot for wildlife
- • Set up a Redneck Hunting Blind
- • Clear more than one mile of trails
- • Transplant trees
- • Plant native grasses
“It is well known that Bobcat Company manufactures compact equipment and that our equipment excels at construction and landscaping,” Gilles says. “However, Bobcat Company does not always come to top of mind when it comes to conservation and land reclamation projects when, in fact, our equipment excels at those projects, too.
“With the recent boom in agriculture, conservation has started to fall by the wayside. Millions of acres of CRP and grasslands have been tilled under to be put back into ag production and that has put a lot of stress on wildlife and other natural resources. The purpose of the Create and Conserve Habitat Event was to demonstrate how ideal our equipment is for accessing untillable/unimproved land to help reclaim it by reintroducing native plant species and, in turn, promoting wildlife production in areas that would otherwise be considered overgrown wastelands.”
In one area, Bobcat compact equipment helped create a poaching screen to protect wildlife that feed on the row crop remnants. The crew removed about 10 stubborn stumps and overgrown vegetation with an E26 compact excavator and T770 compact track loader.
“We took an area of the property that was overgrown and uncontrolled with various weeds,” Jay says, “and we removed the stumps, leveled and smoothed it, and shaped it for good water flow to minimize erosion. Then, we transplanted a group of cedar trees out of a prairie, so as they grow, they will create a visual screen to keep poachers from doing the things they’re not supposed to be doing.”
Wildlife on the land will have a new watering hole thanks to the help of this E26 compact excavator (pictured right) and a T770 compact track loader.
New water source
On an area of the property that Jay refers to as the “south 40,” the crew excavated a new pond and selectively removed invasive trees. “The south 40 has a piece on it that is about 18 acres that was once native prairie grass,” Jay says, “and there’s a lot of woody growth taking over the prairie. We operated the Bobcat compact track loader with the forestry cutter to clean out the woody growth that has canopied and choked out all the native grasses. It stopped the sunlight from hitting the forest floor.
“We’ll do some management with fire, burn some of the wood that was left behind from the forestry cutter, rejuvenate the soil and seed bed, and allow that to retake and come up with all new plants in spring.”
The Bobcat crew operated the E26 with a bucket to dig a new watering hole for wildlife. “The watering hole is spring-fed with the streams down in the ditch, and there has been some pretty severe erosion,” Jay says. “There’s not a lot of access for the wildlife to get down there. We cleaned out the overgrowth, re-sloped part of the lower portion to allow the water to gather when it rains, and we have a watering hole that is more secluded.”On another part of the property, the crew operated Bobcat equipment to remove woody growth to make room for native prairie grasses. “The knob on the property sits right in the middle 40,” Jay says, “and that knob is the highest point on the property. We want to restore the native prairie grass to give wildlife a cool area to retreat to in the warm summer sun, and in fall, an area to eat acorns with the new oak trees that were planted.”
“As agricultural equipment increases in size it becomes less desirable for conservation projects, especially projects that include removing specific invasive species, but leaving native species to thrive,” says Robert Gilles, Bobcat marketing manager. “The compact size, coupled with the brute strength of our products, makes them ideal for maneuvering into hard-to-reach areas to install ponds for waterfowl, remove and plant trees for songbirds, and clear cut native prairies to promote grass production for upland birds and deer.
“From start to finish of a conservation project, the small footprint of our machines and the incredible productivity make them the best choice for small to midsized conservation projects,” Gilles concludes.
More photos from the event
See more photos from the event.
See more pictures from the first Bobcat Company Create and Conserve habitat event by visiting one of our social media channels. Visit www.MyWorkSaver.com/social and select from Facebook® or Twitter® to view images from the project. Learn more about the project at bobcat.com/FB/CreateAndConserve.