Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Chronicles' Interview: Bo Parham of Edge Habitat

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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A Chronicles' Interview with Bo Parham
And Edge Habitat


Folks, once again a great hello and good hunting to you! Today we are adding to our splendid interview series “The Outfitters Chronicles.” Though Bo and Edge Habitat aren't in the outfitting business, habitat management is an integral part of game management, and it is only fitting that we interview them as only the Chronicles can.

Our interview today is with Bo Parham of Edge Habitat. Bo and I worked on this over a series of e-mails. I had bumped into Bo's blog some time ago, and like many things, it kind of went on the back burner. Through a series of "Blog Hops," I bumped back into Bo's blog, and started our correspondence again. I've always been interested in reclaiming damaged environments, and wildlife conservation management is right up my alley.


EH: Albert, first, let me say thank you for taking a special interest in what I'm trying to do.

TROC: Bo, it's my pleasure to sit down and talk to you about habitat restoration and design. After twenty years of construction and related activities, I am super pleased to finally meet someone with the knowledge and ability to either design new wild spaces, or restore damaged ones! But before we go into that, please introduce yourself to our readers.

EH: My name is Jerry Boswell Parham. My Mother and the cops call me Jerry, but most everybody nowadays calls me Bo, a nickname my Dad gave me.

TROC: Then Bo it is! I started right off with how pleased I am to discuss habitat improvement and restoration with you. As a student of biology, it's exciting to know that with a little bit of knowledge and some hard work, you can actually reclaim damaged environments, or improve marginal ones.

EH: That's absolutely correct, Albert. And even in incremental steps, you can make a difference in the quality of the habitat around you. So much emphasis today is placed on feeders and food plots for wildlife, and those concepts certainly have their place. But improving habitat is much more than feeding the animals. And it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg for hi-protein feed sprayed from automatic feeders or high priced food plot seeds planted in a man-made clearing in the middle of the woods. It can be done by simply utilizing the existing natural seedbank and the existing edges on the landscape. And it doesn't have to necessarily look unsightly to be effective.

As I see it, the closely manicured landscapes that we see today have eliminated far too much habitat that could be utilized much more appropriately. Man and wildlife can co-exist, but man can't keep destroying the habitat without destroying the wildlife. This sort of thing has become a passion with me. It's more than just being in tune with nature or having a place to hunt. It's not taking from the environment or taking it for granted, and it's giving something back.

TROC: I think that a lot of folks would like to do something, but have absolutely no idea of where to start. How did you "educate" yourself in Wildlife Conservation Contracting?

EH: I studied biology in college, but where I could afford to go had no formal wildlife biology training. It was more of a pre-med curriculum, but I managed to work in my own independent studies, when I could. I almost got a 2nd major in geology, and I studied agriculture independently. So, officially, I'm not a wildlife biologist, but it's where my heart lies.

Quite frankly, I am a synthesizer of other peoples research at this point, but I aspire to help improve or restore habitat in any way I can, whether by writing about it, or offering advice or personal labors. I didn't start Edge Habitat to make money, but to spread the word and to improve wildlife habitat. That is why I welcome any feedback from people who know more than I do.

Prescribed Burn: Another habitat management technique.

TROC: Tell me Bo, where are you currently located?

EH: I live in Clarksville, Texas, Red River county, between Texarkana and Paris. It's right on the edge of the blackland prairie and the piney woods. North of the Red River lies the Kiamichi Mountains and the Ouachita National Forest in Oklahoma. To the west of Paris lies the Caddo National Grasslands. It's a diverse environment, filled with excellent habitat in many places and opportunities to improve habitat in many others, not unlike other places I'm sure.

TROC: I'm certain that you've quite a bit of outdoor experience too. How did your outdoorsmanship get its start?

EH: Hunting and fishing have been ingrained in me since childhood when I could walk out my back door and go hunting, all day... Or fish in the neighbor's stock ponds or the creek a couple of miles away. Unfortunately, those times are long gone, and so is that environment in far too many places. Some of the lucky ones can still enjoy that type of experience, but they are few. It is from those roots that my love of nature and the outdoors has grown.

TROC: I've gotten a little hunting in over the years, no where near enough as far as I am concerned. My problem is mostly that of access. I've seen areas that were once readily accessible and well stocked with game, both large and small, become subdivisions almost over night. I see you've done quite a bit of hunting. What are some of your successes?

EH: As for my hunting and fishing successes, they have been adequate. Besides the 140-class WT pictured on the blog, I have a 6X7 bull elk (unscored), a 160-class mule deer, a half a slam so far in turkeys (best being a 23 lb. 11-in. w/ 1.25 spurs)and 3 double digit largemouth bass (best being 10.96) as my personal best trophies. But Albert, as you well know, every encounter in the outdoors, no matter what, makes you live longer...

TROC: You mentioned that you worked in the medical field for quite some time, how did you get from scrubs to overalls?

EH: I did spend the majority of my life in health care, both as a pharmaceutical representative and a radiology technologist. However, in '08 I was injured moving a patient in the hospital. I lived in Spokane, Washington as a young man, and I worked as a packer and a cook for an outfit in the middle fork of the Salmon River country in ID. Then I went to work as a Hunter Safety Coordinator for the Washington Department of Game in Spokane. There I was able to assist habitat specialists and others in their work. I developed a working knowledge of the subject, along with a sincere love and respect for that type of work.

When I became injured and forced into semi-retirement, I sat down and asked myself, "What assets do I have that I can use to make my way and be of service?" and "What would I be most happy doing with the rest of my life?" From that, Edge Habitat was hatched. So, honestly, Edge Habitat is a fledgling enterprise created to try and be of service to both the landowners and the wildlife. It doesn't hurt that it might help an old outdoorsman survive as well!

TROC: What sort of projects have you been involved with?

EH: There have been a few small projects, but nothing special to recall... yet!. Most have been erosion control or bank stabilization projects. I have been trying to get the mayor of our city to hire me to manage the grounds at the local city lake for wildlife; but, there again, there is no money in the coffers. This would be an excellent project, since it's just across the main highway to the east of me; and it's in dire need of some help.

The largest thing that I've done is to advise a friend about how to maintain habitat and prevent erosion post logging on some inherited property of hers. But that was pro bono, and I was happy to do it. It allowed me to put into practice some of the ideas I had been developing, and observe the results over time. Local TX P&W biologists have called me a couple of times about their projects, but nothing has yet to come of that either.

That's why when you emailed me about this I was pretty discouraged. But that doesn't mean that I don't still think it's a good idea that needs to be pushed. It's a tough sell, especially in this economy, but I haven't given up on being able to get something going.

TROC: Bo, I am always curious, tell me, how did you get started blogging?

EH: The blog idea was a suggestion of my sister to help with cheap advertising. But it soon became a way to express /vent some things and gather information too. Frankly, Albert, the blog, as minuscule as it is, is more successful than the business at this point. People will talk to you about your ideas about the land, but they can't spend the money to do anything in this economy. If they do, they do it themselves; and utilize your ideas or what NRCS or TX P&W has suggested to them.

As for suggested projects that people can do on their own, the Edge Habitat blog has got numerous posts to that effect in the archives. Edge feathering, strip disking, regenerating the seedbank, comes to mind. All of these can be done with minimal expense and mostly just some work. I am always open to anyone who might have a question to be discussed; but, mostly, I find I'm talking to myself...


TROC: You know Bo, I used to feel that way also when I first started blogging. But with time, you develop a network of readers and followers. Before long you will be the subject matter expert that folks come to for advise on reclaiming land for wildlife! Now, what would be a dream project for you?

EH: The ideal situation for me would be to land a job with an absentee landowner who has deep pockets and several hundred / thousand acres to manage for wildlife. And I would thoroughly enjoy an opportunity to write about wildlife, habitat, and the outdoors. I think that would be both pleasurable and desirable at my age! But then, there are plenty of younger people out there with more specific degrees in wildlife / habitat / ranch / forestry management to fill such jobs, don't you know. But maybe, just maybe, I can do something by synthesizing information and spreading the word to interested people that will help me find a way. And, like the song says, "Get by with a little help from my friends."

TROC: Bo, I wish you all the best in your endeavours. We need more people in the field that can help us maximize the available habitat, restore damaged habitat, or create habitat out of areas that have been destroyed or altered. We will continue to keep in touch and it is my hope that we can feature some of your writing right here on The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles!

EH: Albert, Thank you!
Once again I would like to thank Bo Parham of Edge Habitat for taking the time to interview and introduce Edge Habitat to us.

If you would like to know more about habitat reclamation and habitat restoration. please see Bo's blog, Edge Habitat.

You can also reach Edge Habitat at:
edgehabitat@windstream.net


Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles


Though he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.

Nebraska Hunting Company Scott Croner

2 comments:

Trey said...

nice article. I will check out his blog. Thanks!

Nebraska Hunting Company said...

Nice interview! I like it that you take your time to cearch out new and worthwhile things for everyone to think about and consider, even while you're over in Afghanistan.

Thanks.

Best to you,
Scott Croner™
Nebraska Hunting Company