The Minnesota Sharp-Tailed Grouse Society (MSGS) was founded in 1986 by Roche Lally of Duluth. MSGS is “dedicated to the management and restoration of sharptails in Minnesota for hunters and non-hunters” and works hard towards that goal. With around 300 members, it has provided funding to DNR for prescribed burning equipment, printing of informational brochures, land acquisition, and habitat management. MSGS builds and maintains observation blinds, publishes a quarterly newsletter, and sponsors an annual habitat management project. In the last three years, MSGS has received $236,120 in state Heritage Enhancement Grant for contracted habitat work on WMA’s.
MSGS’s success hatched three other groups, The Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Society, The Michigan Sharp-tailed Grouse Association, and Sharptails Plus of Manitoba.
After 18 years at the helm of MSGS, Lally is still enthusiastic about sharptails, and has watched his old hunting grounds in St. Louis County again have huntable sharptails.
When the Minnesota Sharp-tailed Grouse Society (MSGS) was founded in 1986, its goal was to keep the sharptail from going extinct in Minnesota. MSGS hoped that through education of both the public and resource managers, renewed interest in the sharptail and its habitat would generate additional funding from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for habitat work on public and private lands. Fairly soon, MSGS had a membership base of about 300 members and a Board of Directors. MSGS adopted bylaws and became incorporated, and was approved by the IRS as a 501-C tax-exempt organization.
MSGS soon had various fund raisers. There were annual raffles for a shotgun and other prizes, and other types of fund raisers. While there was never a bulging treasury, MSGS was able to get a lot done for a small organization. Following is a summary of some accomplishments.
- Donated $500 to DNR for repair of a J-7 Bombardier tracked vehicle for use in prescribed burning.
- Obtained small grain seed for giving to farmers to seed food plots on private land.
- Donated $1,000 to DNR for equipping support trailers for heli-torchprescribed burning.
- Purchased promotional materials for cooperators in Conservation
- Reserve Program sign-ups.
- Printed a MSGS Sharptail Management Guide for private landowners.
- Assisted DNR in printing Wildlife Research Bulletin No. 10, Sharp-tailed Grouse in Minnesota.
- Hosted bi-annual Spring Fling Meetings.
- Sponsored annual habitat management winter brush cutting projects in northern Minnesota.
- Donated $700 to DNR to pay DNR Technicians for overtime in prescribed burning.
- Donated $500 to DNR for printing its Sharp-tailed Grouse Management on Private Lands brochure.
- Recipient of the Minnesota Chapter of The Wildlife Society Conservation Award in 1999.
- Donated building materials to DNR for building sharptail observation blinds.
- Helped obtain a $300,000 LCMR grant to research the feasibility of brush biomass for energy.
- Received a $30,000 grant from LCMR to evaluate brush savannas in east-central Minnesota.
- Donated to the Long Lake Conservation Center building fund.
- Helped form sharptail advocate organizations in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Manitoba.
- Participated in DNR’s Long Range Sharptail Management Planing process, and the Hunting Round-table.
- Since 1986 sponsored a hands-on brush-land winter habitat project, which has resulted in the management of hundreds of acres of habitat.
- Received over $500,000 in Heritage Enhancement habitat grants from DNR since 2002 which enabled MSGS to manage several thousand acres of open land habitat using shearing, hydro-axing, prescribed burning, mowing, and hand cutting.
That’s just a partial list of what MSGS has accomplished in its short life. But without a doubt, MSGS’s greatest feat has been the public education of sharptails and their habitat, for the benefit of hunters and non-hunters alike. That goal will persist as foremost as long as MSGS is around.
For a more complete listing of what MSGS has done, please request a list from MSGS.
MSGS Board of Directors:
President – Dave Pauly
Vice President – Kyle Arola
Secretary – Martha Minchak
Treasurer – Derek Frost
NW MN Rep – Gary Huschle
NE MN Rep – Jeremy Maslowski
SW MN Rep – Walt Gessler
SE MN Rep – Vacant
Habitat – Dave Pauly, Jamie Gangaware
Outreach/Newsletters – Melissa Koelsch
Website/Facebook – Matt Breuer
Membership – Dave Dickey
Fundraising/Merchandise – Bailey Petersen
Student Advisor – Bill Faber
Directors At Large:
MN DNR Representative: