NWTF to host banquet Feb. 22

The National Wildlife Turkey Federation’s Lower Delaware Chapter will be hosting its 24th annual Hunting Heritage banquet on Saturday, Feb. 22, at the CHEER Community Center, located at 20520 Sand Hill Road in Georgetown.

The annual event is one of the main fundraising events for the local chapter, and this year they have plenty of items available for auction during the festivities. Doors open at 4 p.m., and tickets can be purchased online at https://events.nwtf.org/800310-2020. The event is expected to run through 9 p.m.

The NWTF has been known nationally for more than 40 years for its efforts in conservation and wildlife management. In fact, there were no wild turkeys in Delaware back in 1972. The group is continuing that legacy of conservation with their “Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt” initiative. The focus is aimed at reversing the declining numbers of turkeys, and supporting sportsman and hunters.

Over the next 10 years, NWTF has dedicated its focus to saving 1.5 million acres of habitat from loss and opening 500,000 acres to public use across the country. They are also dedicated to creating 1.5 million new hunters. Their annual banquets help raise the funds necessary to achieve those goals.

The local Lower Delaware NWTF Chapter has three goals that it is currently working on, solely focused in this area. It is looking to conserve or enhance 11,000 acres of wildlife habitat over the next decade. It is also working hard not to lose the number of hunters it currently has. The group has its sights set on looking to open 1,000 areas of hunting access in the next decade as well.

The NWTF of Lower Delaware continues to look at ways to improve existing wildlife habitats in the state, as well as acquiring new acres of habitat. It educates the next generation of conservationists through mentored hunts and introductory shooting events. It also works to increase access for hunters on public lands by acquiring new areas and working with state and federal agencies to open more land to hunting.

At the national level, the group says the outdoors isn’t just what’s on the other side of the glass, it’s where they feel most alive. And, they say, they’re aiming to make America the best it can be for the people and wildlife who call it home.

The NWTF has divided the country into six areas — America’s Big Six of Wildlife Conservation — to focus their efforts on the most critical upland wildlife needs. Delaware is a part of America’s Colonial Forests. NWTF Delaware is committed to maintaining healthy hardwood forests, stopping habitat loss, increasing habitat diversity and winter wildlife survival.

The money raised at the banquet helps with numerous national, state and local programs. The money also ensures that they are able to host their local activities, such as JAKES Day (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship), WITO (Women In The Outdoors), and Wheelin’ Sportsmen (dedicated to giving people with disabilities opportunities to enjoy the outdoors by participating in hunting and shooting sports) events, and scholarships.

The special guest speaker at the banquet that night will be NWTF Delaware District Biologist Mitchell Blake. He was able to collaborate with DNREC biologists on several habitat restoration projects at Cedar Swamp WMA. The habitat restoration projects were primarily focused on bobwhite quail restoration and expansion but will also benefit a suite of early successional habitat users, such as wild turkeys, white-tailed deer and monarch butterflies.

Mitchell has spent significant time in his career managing coastal plain habitats and is excited for additional projects to come online in 2020. In addition to the habitat management projects, Mitchell has also collaborated with Pepco Holdings Inc. on a right-of-way management plan centered on the Blackbird, Del., area.

There are various ways in which people can attend the event, as well as sponsor certain aspects. A standard adult ticket costs $45. There is also the JAKES ticket for $20. A sponsor couple is priced at $300. That is just a glimpse at the options. Those wishing to attend the party can visit the event’s website for a rundown of all the possibilities.

For more information, reach out to the NWTF Lower Delaware Chapter President Stacie Street at staciestreet587@hotmail.com or call (302) 381-9354. All donations are 100 percent tax deductible.


By Jason Feather
Staff Reporter