“Pheasants and Bison in the Heartland” coming up on Prairie Sportsman
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Veterans at the Minnesota Heartland Preserve.

Download a photo of veterans at the Minnesota Heartland Preserve.

GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — Host Bret Amundson is out with veterans who are pheasant hunting at the Minnesota Heartland Preserve near Granite Falls and deer hunting at the Minnesota National Guard’s Arden Hills Army Training Site. Then at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve near East Bethel, bison are grazing more than 200 acres of oak savanna so their impact on habitat restoration can be studied.

“Pheasants and Bison in the Heartland” will air on Pioneer PBS Sunday, February 16, 7:30 p.m.; WDSE Saturday, February 22, 4 p.m.; tptLife Saturday, March 7, 12:30 p.m.; and Lakeland PBS Saturday, April 18, 2:30 p.m. It will also be broadcast on the Minnesota Channel, which airs on all Minnesota PBS stations, Thursday, March 12 at midnight, 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m.

Veterans join together for an annual tradition of pheasants and friendships at the Minnesota Heartland Preserve near Granite Falls. The event, sponsored by the Pheasants Forever Chippewa County Chapter and Minnesota Deer Hunters Association Two Rivers Chapter, started in 2013 with only five participants. This fall it drew more than 65 retired military, law enforcement and EMT personnel.

Then Bret is out on a conservation deer hunt with active military members and veterans at the Minnesota National Guard’s Army Training Site in Arden Hills. The 1200-acre former ammunitions plant site has been converted to a nature preserve used in military and law enforcement training. The Guard and DNR coordinated the hunt to manage the preserve’s overpopulation of deer and to provide a hunting opportunity for metro-area service men and women. Volunteers who help with the hunt’s logistics and management are also invited to hunt.

Bison are grazed at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve near East Bethel to study their effectiveness in restoring oak savanna, the most threatened ecosystem in Minnesota. Prescribed burning is an important tool for clearing oak savanna of invasive plant and tree species. But oak saplings below the flame’s height cannot survive hot, intense fires. Bison were brought in to reduce grasses and produce cooler fires. Early results show that, on average, fires on savanna grazed by bison are about 180 degrees Celsius cooler than where they have not grazed and 98 percent of the saplings survive. Cedar Creek is a University of Minnesota biological field station that has been conducting ecosystem research since 1942.

About Prairie Sportsman

Prairie Sportsman celebrates our love of the outdoors – to hunt, fish and enjoy recreation provided by our vast resources of lakes, rivers, trails and grasslands – while promoting environmental stewardship.

Prairie Sportsman’s team includes Cindy Dorn, producer/writer; Bret Amundson, host/assistant producer; Dylan Curfman, editor/videographer and Max Grabow, assistant videographer/editor. The 2020 season is made possible by funding from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, SafeBasements of Minnesota, GrandStay Hospitality, Diamond Willow, Live Wide Open and Western Minnesota Prairie Waters.

About Pioneer PBS

Established in 1966, Pioneer PBS is an award-winning, viewer-supported television station dedicated to sharing local stories of the region with the world. For more information visit www.pioneer.org.