Introduced in the 1985 Farm Bill, CRP once supported 37 million acres devoted to conserving soil, water, and wildlife habitat. But Congress has reduced the size of the program to just 24 million acres in the most recent Farm Bill. Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is turning down thousands of CRP applications from those who want to enroll millions of private acres in conservation.
The user-friendly website and advocacy app at CRPworks.org allows supporters to add their names to a petition asking lawmakers to reverse this trend, explaining that “without a strong CRP, the northern plains states would lose much of their duck breeding habitat, greater sage grouse in the West would be at greater risk of population decline, and brook trout would disappear from Eastern headwaters. Without CRP, 40 million sportsmen and women would lose access to private hunting and fishing grounds across rural America.”
Nick Pinizzotto, president and CEO of the National Deer Alliance, says, “Deer hunters know that CRP works for wildlife and habitat—we’ve got the big buck stories to prove it—so it’s important that sportsmen and women call for better investments in CRP and become a part of the solution, well ahead of the next Farm Bill. This website makes that process very easy.”
CRPworks.org will also house educational resources on the benefits of the program and the latest news about private land conservation. “CRP acres are often enrolled in access programs to provide public hunting and fishing opportunities on private lands, and where they’re not, CRP acres might provide critical wildlife habitat adjacent to the public lands that receive a lot of hunting pressure,” says Ariel Wiegard, agriculture and private lands policy director for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “This program has served as an important piece of landowners’ business plans and a vital part of working and wild landscapes for 30 years, so it deserves the attention of our lawmakers.”
July 24, 2016
In his opening statement last Wednesday as the new chairman of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Fred Brown of Corning committed to restoring bobwhite quail in Arkansas.
Brown said he has just two priorities in his final year on the commission, and quail restoration is premier. To that end he and director Jeff Crow will assemble a quail task force, appointing commissioners Ken Reeves and Ford Overton as co-chairmen. Reeves, of Harrison, is a lifelong quail hunter who has been vocal and active about directing the commission’s attention to restoring native upland grassland habitat.
“We’ve talked about quail a great deal, but we haven’t done anything, really,” Brown said. “I don’t know if we can bring them back, but we won’t know unless we try.”
Brown cited two other restoration success stories as precedents.
“Elk were exterminated, and we brought them back,” Brown said. “The bear population was wiped out, and now it’s a huntable population.”
Brown said the two most junior commissioners, Joe Morgan of Little Rock and Bobby Martin of Rogers, will be the most important players.
“They have six and seven years left, so they have the most time to work on it,” Brown said.
Brown acknowledged that chronic wasting disease has absorbed much of the commission’s attention this year, but he said the agency is capable of handling multiple projects simultaneously.
“I know CWD hit the agency, and I commend Wildlife [management division] and other people that came in and helped them,” Brown said. “At the same time we’ve got other things going on, and we can do more than one thing at a time. We’re going to get on this quail habitat thing.”
Overton said that Morgan will be a crucial contributor to quail restoration.
“Probably nobody knows more about quail hunting than Joe Morgan,” Overton said. “That’s what he grew up doing.”
Read entire story HERE.
WOODLAND TOWNSHIP — In a forest clearing on a large cranberry farm, field technicians with New Jersey Audubon used electronic equipment to search for bobwhite quail.
The wild birds from Georgia were banded with electronic collars and released in the past two years, and a bobwhite nest was found earlier at the site, tucked inside tall grasses on a mound of topsoil.
It isn’t the prettiest or most natural part of Pine Island Cranberry Co.’s 14,000 non-cultivated acres in and around the Burlington County hamlet of Chatsworth. There are compost piles at the site, and a small airfield for agricultural planes.
But it’s the kind of disturbed habitat the bobwhite and other species, like prairie warblers, kestrels and pine snakes, love.
Read more about the NBCI member state’s project HERE.
MOBILE, Ala. (June 16, 2016) – A coalition of conservation experts, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies has announced the publication of a long-awaited five-year plan to stem the rapid decline of number of shortleaf pine-dominant forests. Released during the annual meeting of the Southern Group of State Foresters, the Shortleaf Pine Restoration Plan culminates two years of efforts by the Shortleaf Pine Initiative and is the first strategy produced to improve the shortleaf pine ecosystem across its entire range.
“This plan marks the first concrete steps in restoring these highly valuable shortleaf pine forestlands,” said Mike Black, director of the Shortleaf Pine Initiative. “Thanks to the work of our many partners, we now have a practical roadmap for restoration with scalable, achievable goals specifically tailored to the regional needs of the ecosystem.”
Shortleaf pine has a rich tradition as an important trade good in the history of the U.S., but due to poor management practices throughout the 1800s and competition from other tree species, the shortleaf pine range has dwindled from 70-80 millions in 1896 to a mere 6 million acres today. Ecosystems dominated by shortleaf pine also serve as an important habitat for five threatened or endangered species, such as the red-cockaded woodpecker, as well as 20 species of concern among conservationists.
Launched in the spring of 2013, the Shortleaf Pine Initiative is a collaborative, strategic and energetic response to the dramatic decline of shortleaf pine forests and associated habitats that once covered a vast area from eastern Texas to Florida and up the eastern seaboard to New Jersey. The Shortleaf Pine Initiative represents a broad range of public and private organizations as well as key state and federal agencies currently working in the shortleaf pine ecosystem.
You can read the plan HERE.
This past season Iowa’s quail hunters enjoyed their best hunting since 2007, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Hunters harvested an estimated 28,400 quail in 2015, which was a 165 percent increase over 2014. The large increase in quail harvest was predicted by the August roadside survey which counted the highest number of quail in 21 years.
“We expected to see more quail harvested based on the August roadside survey and our current trend of mild winters,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Bogenschutz uses a population model that considers total winter snowfall, and spring rainfall and temperature data to estimate winter survival and nesting success, plus the annual August roadside survey that counts actual pheasants, quail, cottontail, jackrabbit and partridge staff see along the 218 30-mile routes.
“We know, given certain snowfall and rainfall amounts, with a degree of certainty, how the upland populations are likely to react, based on 50 years of data. Given the mild winter and below normal rainfall, potential for upland birds looks good for the fall right now for the east central, southeast and south central regions. The western third had more rain and more snow so the potential looks less,” he said.
“Anecdotally, staff and landowners have been reporting more roosters crowing and male bobwhite calling across the southern third of Iowa this spring, which is a sign of good overwinter survival. The best predictor will be this August when we conduct our roadside survey. But I like the direction the model is pointing.”
An interesting story in the Journal Review in Crawfordsville, Indiana, which pretty much sums up the state of forest management on public lands in the U.S., not just Indiana.
The Oaks & Prairies Joint Venture’s Grassland Restoration Incentive Program, or GRIP, is making a difference for bobwhites, grassland songbirds and butterflies … and the bobwhite is often the leading attractant for landowner participants. (The National Bobwhite Technical Committee presented OPJV their Group Achievement Award in 2014 for their commitment to integrated habitat conservation.) Check it out HERE.
Beginning this month, officials with Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana (a 2014 winner of NBCI’s National Fire Bird Conservation Award) will launch an initiative to restore and increase the acreage of longleaf pine over the next couple of decades through partnerships with federal agencies and private landowners. Check it out HERE.
Four of the five individuals honored by Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever for their distinguished contributions to conservation during the recent 81st North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference are stalwart NBCI supporters/participants … Todd Bogenschutz, Upland Wildlife Research Biologist – Iowa DNR, Dan Forster, Director of Wildlife Resources Division – Georgia DNR, Keith Sexson, Assistant Secretary – Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and Bill White, Private Lands Services Division Chief, Missouri Department of Conservation. Click HERE to read the full story.
The 10th Eastern Native Grass Symposium, “Native Grasses on Working and Natural Landscapes,” will be August 29-31, 2016. An agenda that emphasizes working landscapes will include sessions on forage and grazing, pollinators, building soil health with natives, invasive species control, wildlife management, landscaping with natives and land reclamation. Symposium location will be the Tropicana Hotel in Evansville, Indiana. Stay tuned for further details.
(March 15, 2016)