The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is the unified strategic effort of 25 state fish and wildlife agencies and various conservation organizations -- all under the umbrella of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee -- to restore wild populations of bobwhite quail in this country to levels comparable to 1980.
The first such effort, in 2002, was a paper-based plan by the Southeastern Quail Study Group under the umbrella of Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. That plan, termed the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, attracted considerable attention around the country, including that of the other states in the bobwhite quail range. The result was a broad expansion of the effort and a revision of the plan (and the Southeastern Quail Study Group itself, now the National Bobwhite Technical Committee) to include 25 states in the bobwhite’s range.
Today, NBCI is a multi-faceted initiative characterized by three key elements:
(1) an easily updated, online strategic plan to be released publically in March 2011
(2) a massive and easily updated online Geographic Information System (GIS)-based conservation tool to help state biologists and other conservation planners identify and achieve individual state objectives within the overall national strategy, also scheduled for full release in March 2011. (Over 600 biologists within the bobwhite’s range participated in building this conservation tool.)
(3) a small team of specialists dedicated to range-wide, policy level efforts to bolster respective state step-down strategies.
Donald F. McKenzie
Don was born in Savannah, GA and raised in Decatur, AL. He earned his B.S. in Wildlife Management at Auburn University in 1984, and his M.S. in Wildlife at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1987. His graduate research was on utilization of natural moist-soil food resources by waterfowl on Mingo NWR in southeast Missouri. A side project, conducted to construct water and nutrient budgets within enclosed moist-soil impoundments, documented long-term risks to the sustainability of plant productivity and waterfowl habitat values.
Don joined the South Carolina Waterfowl Association as Chief Biologist in 1987, helping start and grow the new group. He advanced to Washington, DC in early 1991 to join the Wildlife Management Institute as Conservation Policy Coordinator, working primarily on agricultural and wetland conservation policy for 6 ½ years. Don left WMI in 1997 to raise his children in the Southeast, and began work for the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission as Assistant Chief of Wildlife Management, where he supervised the Programs Section for more than two years. In late 1999, Don returned to WMI as the Southeast Field Representative.
In autumn 2004, Don accepted a long-term assignment from WMI to the former Southeast Quail Study Group, as the Coordinator for the then-named Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. In October 2009, Don was employed by the University of Tennessee, the new national operational center for the NBCI, but continues to work out of his home near Ward, Arkansas, while providing national leadership for bobwhite and native grassland restoration across the eastern half of the U.S.
Thomas V. Dailey, Ph.D.
Tom Dailey is NBCI’s assistant director and science coordinator. Prior to joining NBCI in July 2010, Tom was a scientist for 23 years with the Missouri Department of Conservation working on quail, rabbits and wild turkeys. Tom’s quail research started in the 1980s at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University, Kingsville, and continued in Missouri and Illinois. Tom specialized in wildlife nutrition and physiology in Texas and Colorado, earning a Ph.D. at Colorado State University studying bighorn sheep and mountain goats. In addition to those specialties, Tom published scientific and popular articles on white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, swamp and cottontail rabbits, insects, songbirds, quail hunting, geographic information systems, landowner attitudes toward conservation, and corn and soybean production. When not working, Tom and his wife Sandy enjoy their 6 grandchildren, and they are making sure each knows how to garden, hunt, mountain bike, ski and kayak.
Just in his short tenure as NBCI’s forestry coordinator, Mike has logged over 50,000 miles on behalf of NBCI making appearances in 17 of the 25 states promoting and preaching the gospel of “forest management for wildlife” among wildlife biologists and fellow foresters. As a professional forester himself, and one with a passion for wildlife, Black says the greatest opportunity for wild bobwhite recovery – 68% in fact – is in the management of savannah and woodland forests within the historic bobwhite range.
An avid hunter, angler and cook (“if it swims, runs or flies I chase it”), Black is an Illinois native with a BS in forestry and a minor in wildlife management from UT. From his graduation in 1985 until 1995 he assisted Tennessee and North Alabama landowners for Bowater as an industrial forester. Then he established his own company, Sequatchie Forest & Wildlife, specializing in Quality Deer Management programs and creating excellent wildlife habitat through effective forest management practices.
From 2004 until 2010, when he signed on to NBCI, he contracted with the Department of Defense at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, Tenn., focusing on restoration ecology, prescribed burning, and Quality Deer Management. Mike has taught both hunter and bowhunter education in Tennessee for 23 years and was Tennessee Instructor of the Year in 2004. He’s a member of the Society of American Foresters, past Chairman of the Tennessee Forestry Commission, sits on the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies’ Forestry Group, numerous prescribed fire councils, board member on the Longleaf Partnership Council and is director of a new national shortleaf pine organization.
Kyle Brazil is a Certified Wildlife Biologist® originally from Wichita Falls, TX, who considers the Texoma region home. He developed a love of the land and wildlife during summers spent on the family farm in SW Oklahoma. He earned a BS in Wildlife and Fisheries Ecology from Oklahoma State University in 2002 and a MS in Range and Wildlife Management from TX A&M University – Kingsville in 2006. After graduating from OSU, Kyle worked for the Noble Foundation in Ardmore, OK, as a Wildlife and Fisheries Research Technician before returning to TAMUK for grad school. At TAMUK, Kyle conducted research on bobwhite quail habitat and its relationship to productivity. Following grad school, he worked for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department as a regulatory wildlife biologist, and for Audubon Texas as their Quail & Grassland Bird Program Manager. After a two and a half year hiatus spent working for a defense contractor, Kyle is excited to be back in the quail conservation community. Kyle’s philosophy of wildlife management is simple - it’s all about habitat! He believes that if we maintain existing habitat, and restore degraded areas where possible, the birds will take care of themselves. Kyle enjoys hunting, the shooting sports, walking aimlessly, and backpacking.
As communications director, John manages NBCI’s web and social media presence as well as media relations and communications strategies. He has an undergraduate degree in journalism and professional experience in daily newspaper reporting and publishing, subscription-based magazine publishing (both established and startup), natural resource PR & communications in the federal sector, freelance writing and photography, and corporate communications for startup entities. He is a member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers, member and past president of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association and is the public information officer for his community’s volunteer fire department. In his spare time, he enjoys photography, fly fishing, boating and living on the shores of Norris Lake with his wife.
Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) are a traditional and valued part of our nation’s cultural, rural, hunting and economic heritage. Widespread restoration of huntable populations of wild quail will have myriad positive societal benefits for individuals and families, rural communities, cultures and economies.
2. Stewardship responsibility
Reversing long-term, widespread population declines of wild bobwhites, associated grassland birds and the native grassland ecosystems in whichthey thrive is an important wildlife conservation objective and an overdue stewardship responsibility.
3. Landscape-scale habitat problem
Long-term, widespread population declines for bobwhites and grassland birds arise predominantly from subtle but significant landscape-scale changes occurring over several decades in how humans use and manage rural land.
4. Working lands habitats
Bobwhites and grassland birds can be increased and sustained on working public and private lands across their range by improving and managing native grassland and early successional habitats, accomplished through modest, voluntary adjustments in how humans manage rural land.
5. Interjurisdictional responsibilities
State wildlife agencies bear legal authority and leadership responsibility for bobwhite conservation, while migratory grassland birds legally are a legal co-responsibility with the federal government; however, the vast majority of actual and potential grassland bird habitats is privately owned.
6. Partnerships and collaboration
Restoration success depends on a comprehensive network of deliberate, vigorous and sustained collaboration with land owners and managers by state, federal and local governments as well as by corporate, non-profit, and individual private conservationists.
7. Strategic approach
Success requires a long-term, range-wide strategic campaign combined with coordinated, effective action at all levels of society and government, to create a public movement to address conservation policy barriers and opportunities that have the needed landscape-scale influences.
8. Adaptive management
Adaptive resource management principles will inform and increase the efficiency of restoration and management and to satisfy multi-resource and multi-species needs.
9. Long-term challenge
Following a half-century of decline, landscape-scale restoration of bobwhite and grassland bird habitats and populations across their range will require determined and sustained conservation leadership, priority, funding and focus for decades to come.