The Private Land Opportunities for Woodcock Program seeks to identify and contact forest owners, management groups, and foresters in order to enlist them in a comprehensive plan to develop more early-successional forest habitat for the benefit of woodcock.
PLOW began in Pennsylvania as a response to the Management Plan for Woodcock in Pennsylvania, authored in 2008 by PGC Biologist and WL of PA Technical Liason Bill Palmer. The plan called for the creation of almost 80,000 acres of new woodcock habitat per year through 2017 in order to reverse declining woodcock numbers in the state. Almost 80% of the land in Pennsylvania is privately owned, so the majority of new habitat must be created on private land.
The Pennsylvania Woodcock Management Plan is a step-down from the American Woodcock Conservation Plan. This national plan called for the creation of approximately 20.8 million acres of new woodcock habitat with a goal of returning the bird population to those observed during the 1970s. In 2012, PLOW was adopted as a national initiative by Woodcock Limited. PLOW currently has over 30,000 acres enrolled in the program.
When a landowner enrolls in PLOW an assessment of their land is conducted by a habitat management specialist with expertise in the identification of and the enhancement of woodcock habitat. A management plan for the property is then developed. Whenever possible, PLOW utilizes their resource network to assist landowners with the actual habitat work being conducted on their land and provides ongoing oversight in the project.