Shell Appalachia awards Ruffed Grouse Society $25,000 grant for Tioga County habitat project

CONTACT: Jeff Fetzer
Phone: (570) 885-6112
Date: Nov. 15, 2019


Shell Appalachia has awarded the Ruffed Grouse Society a $25,000 grant in support of habitat work in Tioga State Forest designed to benefit wildlife and healthy forest regeneration.

The funding will cover the cost of fencing material to protect a 146-acre prescribed fire treatment area on state forest in the Shin Hollow area of Gaines Township, Tioga County. In addition, the grant will be used to purchase brood cover seed mix and seedlings, as well as hard and soft mast seedlings that will be planted within the project area.

Coordinated and administered by forestry professionals with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, Tioga State Forest, the project is designed to support a variety of wildlife species dependent upon young forest habitat, including ruffed grouse, rabbits, American woodcock, white-tailed deer and songbirds such as golden-winged warblers and brown thrashers.

“The Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, Tioga State Forest, is profoundly committed to the long-term health, viability and productivity of the commonwealth’s forests,” said Jim Hyland, district forester for Tioga State Forest, based in Wellsboro. “Over the decades, we have been gratefully working hand-in-hand with dedicated conservation organizations, like the Ruffed Grouse Society, to find innovative ways to improve the ecologic, economic and social value of the public forests we steward. Through this generous donation by Shell Appalachia, the Ruffed Grouse Society’s efforts will greatly improve habitat for our struggling ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other game species of wildlife.”

The ruffed grouse population has reached historic lows in Pennsylvania in recent years, and the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS), through its conservation and research efforts, is dedicated to reversing that trend.

“Concern for ruffed grouse populations throughout various regions of the country have been making the news this past year,” said Seth Heasley, president of the Susquehanna River Valley RGS chapter. “The reported blame has largely pointed to West Nile virus and, to a lesser extent, climate change.

“Unfortunately, what is often left out of the reporting underneath those dire headlines is how both of those factors are largely negated in forested regions with sufficient young forest habitat,” he said. “The birds can cope far better when their needs of food and cover, in particular, are being met.”

Providing both food and cover for ruffed grouse and other species is at the heart of the Shin Hollow habitat project made possible through the donation from Shell Appalachia.

“This area for opportunity was identified by Tioga State Forest staff, and Shell saw the significance of the projects’ potential and made it financially possible,” said Heasley. “We wish to thank Shell and the staff with Tioga State Forest for their contributions and commitment to the overall forest health in the north-central region of the commonwealth.”

Shell Appalachia’s $25,000 donation for the Shin Hollow project was part of an overall commitment of $28,047 to the Susquehanna River Valley RGS chapter in 2019.

One of the largest leaseholders and producers of natural gas in the Appalachia Basin, Shell Appalachia operates over 300 dry gas wells, predominantly in Tioga County. The company is one of the local RGS chapter’s Gold Sponsors, providing a $2,500 contribution in support of the chapter’s Conservation & Sportsmen’s Banquet, which will take place Feb. 22, 2020, at Farrington Place in Williamsport.

Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is North America’s foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS works with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.

The Susquehanna River Valley Chapter of the RGS, formed in 2017, focus its habitat work and member-recruitment efforts in the counties of Lycoming, Sullivan, Clinton, Potter, Tioga, Bradford, Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Union and Snyder. For more information about the local chapter, contact Jeff Fetzer, treasurer, at 570-885-6112 or

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Shell Appalachia awarded the Susquehanna River Valley Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society a $28,047 grant in support of its wildlife habitat initiatives in north-central Pennsylvania. The bulk of the grant, $25,000, will be utilized for a 146-acre habitat improvement and forest regeneration project on Pennsylvania State Bureau of Forestry grounds in Tioga State Forest, Gaines Township, Tioga County. On hand for the check presentation are, from left: Jeff Fetzer, RGS chapter treasurer; Seth Heasley, RGS chapter president; Eric Potter, community liaison officer, Shell Appalachia; Wayne Fletcher, help, safety and environmental focal, Shell Appalachia; Erick Butters, resources forester, Tioga State Forest; Ben Carlson, assistant district forester, Tioga State Forest; and Joe Sulikoski, RGS chapter habitat chairman.