Wildlife Habitat Award: Amorugee LLC
For six decades, the Amorugee LLC has been maintaining nearly two full sections of wildlife conservation land! For their dedication and exceptional land management, they have been selected as the 2022 Kansas Bankers Association Wildlife Habitat Award winners.
Father and son Joe and Don Wenger, along with cousin LaVon Wenger, purchased this land in the 60s as an upland bird hunting property. The land is highly diverse, featuring upland prairie and hills, hardwood timber, creek and lowland sites, moist swamp areas, shrubby habitat, a manmade pond, and more! Their goals were to use the land for hunting and recreation while stewarding the land well. The family is passionate about maintaining the ecological integrity of the land and enrolled much of it into the CRP program when it began in the 80s.
Throughout the decades, they worked on tree removal, brush management, noxious weeds and prairie grass maintenance to ensure the habitat was of the highest quality that could support a menagerie of different wildlife. They plant yearly food plots of primarily milo throughout the property to provide food at critical times for various species. In the 80s, a manmade pond was added to the property to add another water element and round out the ecosystem on the land. And they are constantly working to manage brush and trees precisely to balance open and canopied areas for the benefit of wildlife. They have quail, pheasant, deer, turkey, small mammals, songbirds, rabbits, fish and more on the property. Even while we were out on the property collecting photos, we flushed a covey of quail!
In 2022, cousins Paul Wenger and Will Eisenbise took over the property and re-enrolled it in the CRP program. They are just as passionate about maintaining this property as their grandparents were before them. They have plenty of work to do clearing noxious weeds and lessening tree and shrub presence on the property, but it still remains one of the largest continuous pieces of habitat in the area.
Looking back, they remark on seeing fewer and fewer birds each year, more ground being taken out around them to plant row crops, and this has fueled their fire for habitat management! They both expressed their desire to keep the land in the family and make it useful.
Will says, “It could be lucrative to tear it all out to put it into row crop — nothing against people who make their living off of that — but that we can take care of it, both for the land and the wildlife.”
That’s what it’s all about for them!
As well as being a wildlife sanctuary, the property is also a gathering place for the family. Most are hunters and anglers, and many of the kids and grandkids have taken their first wild game or caught their first fish on this property. Generations of celebrations, get-togethers and first dates have taken place on the property as well. It’s not exactly what you’d call remote, but they say once you get right into the middle of it, you might feel like the only one out in God’s creation.
They have committed decades of hard work for habitat management on their property and it is paying off. Congratulations, Amorugee LLC., 2022 Kansas Bankers Association Wildlife Habitat Award winner.