NBCI News

Georgia Names New State Quail Biologist

Dallas Ingram

Dallas R. Ingram, a seven-year veteran of the Bobwhite Quai Initiative in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ private lands program, has been named Georgia’s new state quail biologist.

“Dallas has been a biologist with the Bobwhite Quail Initiative in the Georgia Private Lands Program since 2011 and has proven to be a great resource for both landowners and professionals,” said Game Management Program Manager Dr. Jessica McGuire. “Bobwhite quail are a high-profile wildlife resource in this state and we look forward to seeing her thrive in her new role.”

“We know Dallas and her work in Georgia, and we congratulate her on this new, expanded role,” said Don McKenzie, director of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. “We wish her every success.”

Ingram’s experience includes providing technical assistance, management plans and Farm Bill guidance for private landowners in 38 counties, managing fall quail covey counts and spring bird counts over 37,000 acres of habitat, managing bobwhite habitat on state wildlife management areas, working with other partner agencies and private conservation groups to promote and implement bobwhite management in the state, and serving as a member of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee and its communications subcommittee. (The committee will have its annual meeting in Albany, GA in August.)

Ingram has a MS in biology from Valdosta State University, a BS in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forest Resources and an AS in biology from Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College.

NBCI Releases New How-To Video For Sericea Lespedeza Management

New NBCI video provides management strategies for sericea lespedeza.

To assist land managers in controlling of one of the most invasive, problematic, exotic weeds in northern bobwhite range, the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) has released a new 8-minute video, An Integrated Approach to Sericea Lespedeza Management … and just in time to begin control treatments this year.

A native of Asia, sericea lespedeza was introduced for erosion control, mine reclamation and wildlife habitat in the late 1800s. There are beneficial native lespedezas and other exotic lespedeza species. The low-growing, herbaceous lespedezas are popular for forage and wildlife, but the tall, upright shrub-type are problematic, and none as invasive as sericea. With the ability for uncontrolled populations to increase up to 24% annually, sericea lespedeza poses a serious threat to wildlife habitat and native ecosystems.

“For all practical purposes, sericea is impossible to eliminate,” said NBCI Grasslands Coordinator Jef Hodges. “It thrives under common wildland management practices. It’s a perennial and is allelopathic, which means it creates a chemical barrier to other plants. Its hard seeds will last decades in the soil, but they provide little nourishment to wildlife. In 2003, it infested an estimated 8.3 million acres, so it’s a threat to cattle producers as well as wildlife managers. It can’t be totally eliminated but it can be controlled with an integrated approach of burning/grazing/mowing and herbicide application for the most severe infestations,” said Hodges.

The video is available for viewing at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jttBd6b4Ap8.

About NBCI
Headquartered at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture/Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is a science and habitat-based initiative of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a coordinated, range-wide leadership endeavor to restore wild bobwhites on a landscape scale. The committee is comprised of representatives of 25 state wildlife agencies, various academic research institutions and private conservation organizations. Support for NBCI is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, state wildlife agencies, the Joe Crafton Family Endowment for Quail Initiatives, the University of Tennessee, Quail & Upland Game Alliance, Park Cities Quail and Roundstone Native Seed.

NBCI Sponsors Webinar on Understory Herbicide Use For Bobwhites, Other Wildlife on May 31

The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) will sponsor a webinar on the appropriate use of understory herbicides as a component in the management for woodlands, especially southern pines, for bobwhite quail and other grassland wildlife species May 31 at 2 p.m. (Eastern).

“Promoting active forest management on public and private lands is a fundamental NBCI strategy in the landscape scale restoration of wild bobwhites,” said NBCI Forestry Coordinator Steve Chapman. “Herbicides are important in both forest and wildlife management in the South, and particularly when it comes to southern pines,” Chapman said. “But the heavy doses of herbicides typically used in commercial forestry operations aren’t needed when savanna restoration and wildlife habitat are the key objectives. This webinar will focus on minimizing herbicide use while maximizing the diverse native groundcover that bobwhites, songbirds, whitetails and turkeys require.”

Joining Chapman will be primary webinar presenter Ryan Mitchell of The Longleaf Alliance. Mitchell has a B.S. in Wildlife Science from Auburn University and worked with the Alabama Wildlife Federation to execute their longleaf restoration project through technical assistance to landowners. He is a past-president of the Alabama Prescribed Fire Council, a certified prescribed burn boss and a member of The Wildlife Society.

The webinar, which will be recorded for later viewing, can be accessed through the Webinar Portal for Forestry and Natural Resources, http://www.forestrywebinars.net/webinars/understory-herbicides-for-bobwhites-and-other-wildlife-1

About NBCI
Headquartered at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture/Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is a science and habitat-based initiative of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a coordinated, range-wide leadership endeavor to restore wild bobwhites on a landscape scale. The committee is comprised of representatives of 25 state wildlife agencies, various academic research institutions and private conservation organizations. Support for NBCI is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, state wildlife agencies, the Joe Crafton Family Endowment for Quail Initiatives, the University of Tennessee, Quail & Upland Game Alliance, Park Cities Quail and Roundstone Native Seed.

NBCI Advocates on Capitol Hill For Native Vegetation Standard in Farm Bill

The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is expanding support for a native vegetation standard in the next Farm Bill among a diverse array of organizations and is welcoming additional supporters to help influence agricultural policy discussions in Congress.

“Adoption of the ‘Natives First’ approach by USDA could be the single most important development in restoring bobwhites and declining grassland birds across their ranges,” says NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “Establishing a native vegetation standard for public conservation money spent by USDA would be the game changer that finally tilts the playing field in favor of bobwhites, pollinators and many other declining species on private lands.”

Over 40 supporters have sent letters to key Members of Senate and House Agriculture committees and agriculture staff on Capitol Hill. Supporters of “Natives First” range from the American Bird Conservancy, the Pollinator Partnership and North American Butterfly Association to the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, Boone & Crockett Club, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the National Wild Turkey Federation. (See full list below.)

“Additional outreach to Congress will be forthcoming,” said McKenzie. “Concerned conservationists from across the spectrum understand that native vegetation meets or beats exotics, such as fescue, in every important resource measure,” said McKenzie. “Native vegetation can provide, BETTER soil conservation, soil health, livestock forage, air quality and wildlife benefits. It’s time for a change and the 2018 Farm Bill is the opportunity.”

For more information and to join the effort, visit https://bringbackbobwhites.org/conservation/natives-first/

Natives First Supporters:
American Bird Conservancy, American Woodcock Society, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies,
Bamert Seed Company, Boone & Crockett Club, Chesapeake Valley Seed, Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Ernst Conservation Seeds, FDC Enterprises, Izaak Walton League of America, Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition, Landmark Turf & Native Seed, Missouri Prairie Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, National Association of Forest Service Retirees, National Association of Invasive Plant Councils, National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Wildlife Federation, North American Butterfly Association, North American Grouse Partnership, Oklahoma Invasive Plant Council, Park Cities Quail, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, Placedo Prairie, Prairie Moon Nursery, Quail Coalition, Quail and Upland Game Alliance, Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, Quality Deer Management Association, Roundstone Native Seed, Ruffed Grouse Society, South Carolina Native Plant Society, Southeastern Grasslands Initiative, Tanner Dog Farms, Tennessee Native Plant Society, Tennessee Naturalist Program, Texas Pollinator Powwow, Texas Wildlife Association, The Nature Conservancy, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, The Pollinator Partnership, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, Wild Sheep Foundation, Wildlife Forever, Wildlife Management Institute, Wildlife Mississippi.

National Forests in the South Join Bobwhite Quail Restoration Effort

The U.S. Forest Service’s Southern Region has joined with the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) in efforts to restore wild bobwhite quail at the landscape level. The new memorandum of understanding formalizes existing efforts on five national forests in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Mississippi.

“The Forest Service is already working with us — and five state agencies — to create bobwhite focal areas,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “Every project on behalf of bobwhites on national forests creates another source population for adjacent lands and allows the public and landowners to observe bobwhites and see what it takes to return them to America’s landscape.”

The new agreement also provides a path for additional efforts at other national forests in the region, as well as on private lands whose owners are engaged with the federal agency in management activities. In conjunction with the respective states, NBCI will serve as a consultant on grasslands habitat design and development, and assessment of project progress.

“The Southern Region is proud to partner with the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative to enhance and restore the habitat used by bobwhite quail and other grassland species,” said Micah Thorning, the Forest Service’s regional wildlife program manager. “We are enthusiastic about the future of establishing bobwhite focal areas across the Southern Region and the benefits they will provide for our visiting public.”

“The addition of national forests in the South is a significant step in the 25-state goal of landscape-scale restoration of wild bobwhites,” said NBCI Management Board Chair and Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources Director Gregory Johnson. “It also illustrates how seeking partners at regional and national levels can move us closer to our goal, while having positive impacts on a range of wildlife species.”

About the Forest Service
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations. National forests and grasslands contribute more than $30 billion to the American economy annually and support nearly 360,000 jobs. These lands also provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities; approximately 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.

About NBCI
Headquartered at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture/Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is a science and habitat-based initiative of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a coordinated, range-wide leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of 25 state wildlife agencies, various academic research institutions and private conservation organizations. Support for NBCI is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, state wildlife agencies, the Joe Crafton Family Endowment for Quail Initiatives, the University of Tennessee, Quail & Upland Game Alliance, Park Cities Quail and Roundstone Native Seed.

Third National Park Joins NBCI Bobwhite Restoration Efforts

The 10,000-acre Chickasaw National Recreation Area in south central Oklahoma has become the third National Park Service (NPS) unit to join forces with the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative — and in this case the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation — to restore grassland ecosystems, including wild bobwhite quail, grassland songbirds and pollinators, to the American landscape.

The work is proceeding under an agreement between NBCI and NPS signed last year that provides a formal mechanism for the two entities to work together, along with the respective state wildlife agencies. The purpose is to collaboratively identify and restore native grasslands habitats on suitable park properties, with certain park units serving as formal bobwhite focal areas. Pea Ridge National Military Park in Arkansas and Manassas National Battlefield Park in Virginia were the first two NPS units to join the effort.

Chickasaw, which allows hunting and already harbors some bobwhites, will develop a 5,000-acre bobwhite focal area. Spring call counts were conducted this year and covey counts (both required for NBCI’s Coordinated Implementation Program accreditation) are underway. The landscape is a mix of prairie and woodland types. Eastern red cedar trees have invaded the prairie areas and the park launched reclamation efforts two years ago, eliminating 1,000 acres of invasive cedar trees and conducting annual prescribed burns to maintain control and allow natural prairie regeneration. Another 1,000 acres of cedars have been targeted for removal. The park has also partnered with the Oaks & Prairies Joint Venture and hopes to interest a local university to assist with habitat assessment and bird surveys as well.

“National Park Service staff are excited to partner with NBCI, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, and the Oaks and Prairie Joint Venture to launch another NBCI focal area at Chickasaw National Recreation Area,” said Jordan Spaak, an ecologist with the NPS Biological Resources Division. “The grassland and savanna systems at Chickasaw have responded very well to restoration and fire management efforts. We are seeing a plethora of wildlife species, including bobwhite quail, again utilize the park unit. This project highlights the importance of collaborations, as focal area designation efforts would not occur at Chickasaw without the willingness and interest of ODWC and the Oaks and Prairie Joint Venture to partner with the NPS. The NPS is excited and very appreciative of the efforts that have been contributed to the Chickasaw project.”

“The National Park Service has done an outstanding job over the years in managing for wildlife at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area,” said J. D. Strong, director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The initiative they undertook a few years ago to remove cedar trees and their ongoing prescribed fire work is as impressive as any habitat project in the state. This restoration work is not only good for quail, deer, turkey and other wildlife – they are also making for a safer and healthier ecosystem on the area. It is also exciting to have the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative join forces with us. I have no doubt that the new quail monitoring efforts will show that the work they are doing is making a real difference,” Strong said.

“This is another example of an NPS unit that has already begun taking the right steps and has a great deal of potential to significantly increase the bobwhite population,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “In this case, there could be increased public hunting opportunities as well as a prime situation for telling the grasslands and bobwhite story to 1.2 million visitors a year.”

About NPS
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov. NPS Contact: Jordan Spaak-Ecologist, National Park Service, Biological Resources Division, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate, 970-267-2145, Jordan_Spaak@nps.gov

About Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
The mission of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is the management, protection, and enhancement of wildlife resources and habitat for the scientific, educational, recreational, aesthetic, and economic benefits to present and future generations of citizens and visitors to Oklahoma.

About NBCI
Headquartered within the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is an initiative of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a coordinated, range-wide leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of 25 state wildlife agencies, various academic research institutions and private conservation organizations. Support for NBCI is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, state wildlife agencies, the Joe Crafton Family Endowment for Quail Initiatives, the University of Tennessee, Quail and Upland Game Alliance, Park Cities Quail and Roundstone Native Seed.

NBCI to Study Impact of Conservation Reserve Program for FSA

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is contracting with the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) for a $135,000 study of the impact of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) on bobwhites and grassland songbirds. The contract comes on the heels of a Memorandum of Understanding between NBCI and FSA last month, which established NBCI’s potential role as a consultant on various facets of the program.

“NBCI will study the population response of bobwhites and other birds to CRP in focal areas that are part of our Coordinated Implementation Program (CIP),” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “Because CRP is a private lands conservation program it means that we will choose focal areas that have the private lands component. We expect the final report, due at the end of 2019, to provide recommendations for strategically managing the quality, amount and distribution of CRP for the maximum benefit to bobwhites and grasslands birds. Those recommendations could have the potential to improve the efficiency of Farm Bill programs in the context of bobwhite and grassland bird conservation.”

NBCI’s CIP-branded focal areas are being targeted in the study because they are designed to rigorously test the contribution of habitat management to abundance of bobwhites and grassland birds. Requirements include habitat measurements and prescriptions, and monitoring of bobwhite and grassland bird abundance during different times of the year. It does not, however, include any measurement of specific habitat programs, such as CRP. The study will add that measurement, as well as analysis, on those focal areas. Among the candidates for participation in the study may be focal areas in Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, New Jersey and Texas.

About NBCI

Headquartered at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture’s Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is a science and habitat-based initiative of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate wild bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a coordinated, range-wide leadership endeavor at regional and national levels. The committee is comprised of representatives of 25 state wildlife agencies, various academic research institutions and private conservation organizations. Support for NBCI is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, state wildlife agencies, the Joe Crafton Family Endowment for Quail Initiatives, the University of Tennessee, Quail and Upland Game Alliance, Park Cities Quail and Roundstone Native Seed.

National Bobwhite Initiative, Turkey Federation Renew Agreement

The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) and the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), both requiring the creation and management of early successional habitat for success, renewed their commitment to working together at the 2017 Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ annual conference in Sandy, Utah recently.

Jim Douglas, director of Nebraska Game & Parks and vice chair of the NBCI Management Board, and Becky Humphries, NWTF’s chief executive officer, signed the commitment.

Both groups share mutual goals for upland wildlife habitat enhancement and restoration across public and private lands. Both organizations have designated focal regions in which to concentrate their efforts and, in many cases, there are commonalities, creating opportunities for collaboration and coordination in implementation.

“Both our efforts are habitat-based and early successional habitat is critical for both organizations,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “There is a substantial overlap in habitat requirements for both bobwhites and wild turkeys. It’s only logical that we look at those overlaps and work together wherever possible for the benefit of both species.”

“Setting the stage for future collaborative habitat projects with partners as important to us as the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative is truly exciting,” said NWTF CEO Humphries. “Our march to achieve our mission to Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. takes all of us working towards a common goal and it takes partners like the NBCI.”

About NBCI
Headquartered at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture’s Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is an initiative of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a coordinated, range-wide leadership endeavor working at regional and national levels. The committee is comprised of representatives of 25 state wildlife agencies, various academic research institutions and private conservation organizations. Support for NBCI is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, state wildlife agencies, the Joe Crafton Family Endowment for Quail Initiatives, the University of Tennessee, Quail and Upland Game Alliance, Park Cities Quail and Roundstone Native Seed.For more information, visit bringbackbobwhites.org.

About the National Wild Turkey Federation
When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. Today, the NWTF is focused on the future of hunting and conservation through its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative – a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to conserve or enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, visit NWTF.org.

NBCI Fire Bird Conservation Award Recipients Show Bobwhite Support Can Come From Unexpected Places

A military installation, a native seed company, a cranberry company and a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service national wildlife refuge were among recipients of the 2017 NBCI National Fire Bird Conservation Award during the annual meeting of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee in Knoxville, Tennessee, recently.

Award recipients are nominated by the respective NBCI-member state’s quail coordinator for their contributions to that state’s efforts toward habitat-based restoration of wild bobwhite populations on a landscape scale.

“NBCI provides this avenue for states to recognize and thank those making meaningful contributions to our science-based restoration agenda, and perhaps help encourage others to join their efforts,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “We need as many individuals, agencies and organizations as possible actively contributing to this unified 25-state strategy.”

The award’s name symbolizes the historic reliance of bobwhites on fire in much of its range to maintain the landscape in an “early successional” stage, that is, in the native grasses, wildflowers and “beneficial weeds” providing bobwhites with suitable habitat. Both wildfires and fires intentionally set by landowners to clear farm fields and woodlots historically resulted in abundant habitat for bobwhites, as well as other wildlife. The term “fire bird” in relation to bobwhites was first coined by naturalist Herbert Stoddard, who researched bobwhites and worked to restore bobwhite habitat in the early 20th Century.

Today, “prescribed” fire under controlled conditions by trained professionals has become an increasingly important tool for helping create and manage habitat for bobwhites, as well as a suite of songbirds, pollinators and other wildlife that require early successional habitats to survive.

ALABAMA

Phillip Crow of Andalusia reached out to Conecuh National Forest staff 20 years ago to assist, along with his friends, in disking and planting wildlife openings to benefit quail, including purchasing seed and fertilizer when federal funds evaporated. In 2005, he was instrumental in establishing the Conecuh Forest Chapter of Quail Forever, serving as president since its formation. The chapter has maintained more than 200 acres across 100 permanent wildlife openings on the forest, purchased $50,000 in seed, lime and fertilizer and donated approximately $100,000 in volunteer labor and equipment time. In addition to habitat work, the chapter, under Crow’s leadership, has been an effective ambassador promoting quail hunting on the forest, generating local interest and involvement, and sharing knowledge of Conecuh opportunities across Alabama and other states. In 2015, Crow was instrumental in Quail Forever and the U.S. Forest Service formalizing their relationship with a Challenge Cost-Share Agreement, resulting in more effective use of combined resources and better strategic focus of joint management and marketing activities. The chapter also received the U.S. Forest Service’s Regional Forester’s Volunteer Award for its commitment to improving public land resources and recreational opportunities. More recently, Crow worked along Alabama’s state quail coordinator, Mark Sasser, to travel and participate in meetings between the U.S. Forest Service and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that established a portion of the 84,000-acre Conecuh as the Boggy Hollow Wildlife Management Area. This new 7,000-acre WMA is Alabama’s first NBCI Bobwhite Focal Area.

ARKANSAS

With more than 85 percent of Arkansas land being in private ownership, participation and interest in quail management programs by private landowners is essential to the successful revitalization of quail populations. However, examples of habitat restoration must be available and accessible for landowners to demonstrate habitat manipulation necessary for bobwhites’ benefit. The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (AGFC) recently identified Harold E. Alexander Spring River Wildlife Management Area in Sharp County as a quail focal area for that purpose, based on the habitat management activities coordinated by AGFC Habitat Biologist Rob Willey since his assignment to the region in 2010.

Willey has improved more than 1,200 acres of timber, taken out 260 acres of cedar, mulched 270 additional acres of cedar and reclaimed 590 acres of open land, restoring and maintaining critical habitats, specifically woodland, savanna and glades that provide direct benefit to bobwhites and well as other species of greatest conservation need. He has also coordinated similar activities on Scott Henderson Gulf Mountain and Jamestown Independence County WMAs.

Willey is an AGFC certified firing boss and prescribes fire treatments and participates in prescribed fire activities on WMAs and cooperative areas across northern Arkansas, assisting in burns totaling 1,511 acres in the 2015-16 season and 3,084 acres during the 2016-17 season on the focal area, in addition to 5,000 acres during those two years on other WMAs.

DELAWARE

With the responsibility of 20,000 acres of wildlife management area and all the habitat restoration occurring on the state’s Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area Bobwhite Focal Area, Delaware Division of Fish &Wildlife Regional Manager Eric Ludwig coordinates with numerous state and private agencies to maximize his efforts. In the past year he has planted 85 acres in annual and perennial food plots, 103 acres of grass/forb/wildflowers, conducted 153 acres of prescribed burns, 13 acres of timber tinning, 20 acres of fallow disking, 2,000 acres of chemical vegetation control, including invasive species spot spraying, and removal of 200 acres from agricultural lands lease to return to early successional habitat. He also arranged a donation of 3,000 pounds of wildflower seed for the Cedar Swamp focal area, a donation of 10,000 loblolly pines, donations of sunflower seed, and he arranges tree planting and invasive species removal workdays for volunteers, as well as arranging the purchase of new equipment – a skid steer, two tractors and a no-till drill – to assist with management activities.

KANSAS

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism Public Land Manager Scott Thomasson received the award for his upland bird habitat management of Smoky Hills Wildlife Area and
Wilson Wildlife Area – 12,800 acres in total – taking on the management of the latter with no additional full-time staff. When Thomasson hit roadblocks to using patch-burn grazing within the greater prairie complex to provide suitable bobwhite habitat, he met with a grazing specialist to develop a new rotational grazing system that could produce a similar heterogeneity of patch-burn grazing. So impacts could be quantified, he worked with the state quail coordinator to adopt a monitoring protocol (NBCI’s focal area monitoring guidelines), including a reference area as a control. When he identified the need for training in executing the required fall covey counts involved, he handled the field logistics of hosting of an NBCI training workshop for KDWPT staff and others. He continues to host annual training for staff and partners

KENTUCKY

John Seymour/Roundstone Native Seed was honored for pioneering work in the native plant industry in Kentucky, including the championing of native ecotypes, innovating harvest techniques, developing creative seed cleaning methods and their active support of conservation and management of native plants in the state and beyond. Roundstone was an advocate for and key contractor on one of the state’s greatest bobwhite success stories, the establishment of over 100,000 acres of native grassland habitat in the Green River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. As the need to manage those acres became necessary and the state’s prescribed fire laws prohibited the private sector from effectively participating, Roundstone became the leading voice for the establishment of a Certified Burn Boss Program through the Kentucky Prescribed Fire Council. Seymour made several trips to the legislature to help ensure the bill’s passage in 2016. Roundstone is actively engaged in pollinator conservation, including partnerships with the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, active participation in the development of the state’s Monarch Restoration Plan, and a critical partner on the Perryville Battlefield Grassland Restoration, planting 700 acres in one season, the single largest habitat restoration in KDFWR’s history.

MISSOURI

Missouri Department of Conservation Private Lands Biologists Tim Kavan and Brad Pobst are responsible for five of the most intensively farmed counties in the state. In the last three years they have combined to write 110 contracts on 3,687 acres under the center pivot irrigation program, in which each 40-acre field averages eight acres of habitat for the combined four un-irrigated corners. They made more than 600 site visits, made over 300 technical assistance contacts and written over 300 plans for more than 50,000 acres of property that addressed 15,000 acres of management under various Farm Bill programs.  They also made more than 400 site visits, made 1,500 technical assistant contacts and wrote 200 management plans totaling over 15,000 acres that did not involve Farm Bill programs. The duo has also been active in outreach efforts, combining to conduct over 50 workshops and field days that reached an audience of 15,000, conducted more than 25 technical training sessions, 14 media interviews, provided a pollinator demonstration with the Delta Center, a youth pollinator demonstration with Monsanto and numerous other presentations for various school, resource and civic groups. They also conduct quail monitoring and provide expertise to Scott County Quail, Oak Ridge and Sand Prairie quail focal areas.

NEW JERSEY

William S. Haines, Jr., president of the family-founded Pine Island Cranberry Company (1890) within southern New Jersey’s 1.1 million acre Pinelands National Reserve, was honored for his longstanding dedication to protecting the environment, especially company lands. Haines contracted for a forest stewardship plan, which received state approval in 2005. The plan allowed implementation of forest practices, including prescribed burning, thinning, seed tree cuts and shortleaf pine plantings. In 2011, Pine Island Cranberry was named the state’s Outstanding Forest Steward by the state Department of Environmental Protection. Management activities there created an ideal location to research the efficacy of translocating wild bobwhites from southern states. The company’s partners, including New Jersey Audubon, Tall Timbers Research Station, University of Delaware and the Division of Fish & Wildlife, worked with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to obtain 240 wild birds over a three-year period beginning in 2015 for release at Pine Island. Results, combined with similar projects at two sites in Maryland, may have broad implications for restoring bobwhites in Mid-Atlantic states where declines have been among the most dramatic across the bird’s range, and will be pivotal to understanding the limits of translocation as a population recovery tool.

NORTH CAROLINA

Wildlife Resources Commission Technical Assistance Biologist John Isenhour’s quality of technical assistance to private landowners in the Piedmont region and his unique relationship of trust with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that has resulted in a positive influence on federal conservation policy in the state earned him the 2017 Fire Bird Award for North Carolina. One of Isenhour’s private land clients won both the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commisison’s Small Game Award. Additional private clients he advises are recognized as conservation leaders in their local communities. He was recruited to serve as a member of the NRCS statewide advisory team developing recommendations to improve the effectiveness of NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the largest source of financial assistance for habitat conservation on private lands in the state, awarding nearly $1 million annually for forested and non-forested habitat. He aided in the development of EQIP forestry ranking criteria for the entire state, helping wildlife-friendly criteria become an integral part of the ranking process. His knowledge of and influence on Farm Bill programs and policies puts him in high demand to provide training and coaching for landowners, commission and NRCS staff.

“Perhaps one of (his) greatest successes has been his ability to enter the agricultural and forestry community and convince landowners that making a profit can be accomplished while also providing wildlife habitat,” according to his nomination.

OKLAHOMA

Quail Forever Regional Representative Laura McIver and the Oklahoma Quail Forever chapters (Tall Grass Heritage, North Fork, Indian Territory, Cherokee Strip and Central Oklahoma) were recognized for their contribution of more than $75,000 to address critical resource concerns and improve quail habitat quantity and quality. A few examples include: the removal of
50 acres of Old World bluestem and replacement with native grass in the Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area, along with the removal of 3.77 miles of fencing; purchase of a tree saw attachment for wildlife management areas in the southwest region; the purchase of an offset disc for Cross Timbers wildlife Management Area to maintain fire lines; two v-cutter attachments, transfer pump and water tender to be shared within the wildlife manage districts; a V-cutter grapple bucket attachment and the completion of a portable fire suppression skid unit to help control eastern red cedar encroachment in the Cooper and Fort Supply wildlife management areas; burn equipment for the Beaver Wildlife Management Area quail research project; the purchase of 12,500 sand plum seedlings to replace fescue and bermudagrass in the Cross Timbers Wildlife Management area; purchase and outfitting of prescribed burn trailers for the state’s Prescribed Burning Association for conducting burns statewide through local burn associations; purchase of a disk harrow for the Honobia Creek and Three Rivers management areas; a trailer to haul equipment for habitat manipulation at the Grady County and Lexington management areas.

PENNSYLVANIA

Some of the last known sightings of wild bobwhites in Pennsylvania were at the Letterkenny Army Depot, a munitions storage facility in the heart of historical Pennsylvania quail country. As the Pennsylvania Game Commission searched for a willing partner with the appropriate resources to help bring bobwhites back to the state, Letterkenny stepped up with their own Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan, which identified bobwhites as an important species. And one plan objective is to create and implement a bobwhite quail management plan. Currently in the process of completing a long-term agreement with the game commission, the depot will soon launch its first prescribed fire program to improve habitat conditions for bobwhites and other species. 

SOUTH CAROLINA

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge and its staff took Fire Bird honors for aggressive involvement in and support of a state bobwhite focal area, the Carolina Sandhills Bobwhite Focal Area, on refuge lands. Refuge staff have played integral roles in the state’s bobwhite efforts, with Refuge Manager Lyne Askins serving on the South Carolina Quail Council and Refuge Biologist Nancy Jordan participating on the South Carolina Quail Council Technical Committee, as well as developing a five-year plan for the focal area and helping monitor both the focal area and the required reference area, which is also within the refuge. New hedgerows now break up several expansive fields, management protocols for several timber stands have been changed, required burns have been implemented, winter disking completed, all by refuge staff or retirees.

“The South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative is very excited (the refuge) chose to be a part of the initiative and are extremely grateful for the amount of time, effort and fervor they have exhibited in implementing the practices, protocols and changes in management that have occurred since the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge focal area was established,” said Michael Hook, state quail coordinator.

TENNESSEE

Over the past decades the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Forest Management Work Unit has made significant contributions to the creation of early successional habitats and grassland restoration, with 6,000 acres of woodland and savanna restored on the Cumberland Plateau. The unit burns 2,000-plus acres per year, primarily related to the restoration of wild bobwhites. Recently, timber sales have been completed on three of four of the state’s “quail anchor areas,” creating or improving more than 1,000 acres of new quail habitat, and smaller scale timber harvests throughout the state have led to increased woodland, barren, glade and savanna habitat creation. Members of that unit are: Brian Chandler, Forest Management Program Leader; Dwayne Robinson, Wildlife Forester 3; Karl Kilmer, Wildlife Forester 2; Justin Hallett, Wildlife Forester 1; Bobby Buttram, Wildlife Forestry Tech 1; Lucas Hadden, Wildlife Forester 1; Justin Walden, Wildlife Forester 2; Kessler Yoder, Wildlife Forester 1; and Wes Tilley, Wildlife Forestry Tech 1.

VIRGINIA

A member of the state’s quail team since 2010, Jay Howell was instrumental in the development of NBCI’s Coordinated Implemental Program (CIP) for bobwhite focal areas in the 25 states. Howell helped lead the state to be one of the first to develop a pilot CIP focal area project and continues to lead those efforts. He has used innovative techniques in helping the state reach its bird and habitat monitoring goals, including the use of a drone to obtain “real time” aerial photos of habitat survey points, allowing a more accurate delineation of habitat polygons (patches) prior to field analysis and greatly speeding up the field surveys. Howell also developed new monitoring protocols in the assessment of bobwhite focal regions and landscapes, and developed an Access-based time accounting system to allow the state team to quickly generate reports on its efforts. Additionally, he served as the chair of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee’s Science subcommittee for two years.

NBCI Issues 7th ‘State of the Bobwhite’ Report

The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative’s (NBCI) priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill, a review of what the initiative has accomplished under the first three years Pittman-Roberson (Wildlife

NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac: State of the Bobwhite 2017

and Sport Fish Restoration Program) funding, and features on bobwhite restoration work in Arkansas, Florida, Missouri and South Carolina are a few of the highlights of the NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac: State of the Bobwhite 2017.

At 88 pages, it is the largest State of the Bobwhite report since it was first published in 2011, and “is increasingly found in the offices of regional and national decision makers that can help move the needle for bobwhites,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “It’s become a recognized force in the building of partnerships on behalf of bobwhite restoration, as well as providing a range-wide snapshot of population, hunting and conservation  status across the 25-state range.”

Additional content this year includes a look at how livestock could be a measurable factor in favor of bobwhites with a conversion of one-third of pastures into native forages and the application of prescribed grazing. Additionally, there is an analysis of the growth of NBCI’s Coordinated Implementation Program for bobwhite focal areas across the range.

An electronic version of the report is available at https://bringbackbobwhites.org/download/nbcis-bobwhite-almanac-state-of-the-bobwhite-2017/

About NBCI

Headquartered at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture’s Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is an initiative of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a coordinated, range-wide leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of 25 state wildlife agencies, various academic research institutions and private conservation organizations. Support for NBCI is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, state wildlife agencies, the Joe Crafton Family Endowment for Quail Initiatives, the University of Tennessee, Quail and Upland Game Alliance, Park Cities Quail and Roundstone Native Seed.

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