NBCI News

SEAFWA Endorses Full Funding for NBCI by States

The Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) has voted unanimously to endorse member states’ fully funding the core operations of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) for an initial three-year period.  This non-binding resolution paves the way for the states to build their national bobwhite restoration initiative to the full strength originally envisioned, while the fledgling Bobwhite Foundation attracts donors and eventually matures into the ability to fund the 25-state effort.

SEAFWA’s primary membership is the state wildlife management agencies of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia, and SEAFWA is the entity that originally launched the cooperative multi-state approach to restore wild bobwhite quail populations. Two other regional associations of state wildlife agencies – the Northeastern and Midwest – also endorse the NBCI, and several of their states actively participate.

NBCI Management Board Chairman and executive director of the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, Bob Duncan, said support for fully funding the initiative by state wildlife management agencies is appropriate because the bobwhite is a game bird for which the states have legal responsibility, the NBCI is an initiative “by the states for the states,” quail conservation is beneficial to a variety of other priority species in decline and NBCI staff can be most effective when concentrating on bobwhite conservation rather than fundraising.

“Unified, elevated support of the NBCI by the states also will inspire confidence in potential donors to the Bobwhite Foundation,” said Duncan.

To date, NBCI member states have chipped in to pay for the director position while the rest of the NBCI capacity is supported by short-term grants, such as from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Park Cities Quail chapter of the Texas Quail Coalition. 

 “The time is right for the states to step up en mass and raise their NBCI support to a higher level,” Duncan said. “Such leadership by the bobwhite states would send a clear signal to their partners and sportsmen that bobwhite restoration is a top priority. NBCI’s small staff has made enormous strides at the national and regional levels to help states identify and deal with obstacles and opportunities in the bobwhite restoration effort. But bobwhites didn’t disappear overnight and they won’t reappear overnight.

“What NBCI staff is doing for bobwhites is what no state can do alone … keep the species in the national conservation dialogue, and continue to identify national and regional opportunities to restore wild populations and do so with the cumulative weight of 25 states. NBCI needs to spend more time on behalf of bobwhites and the states, and less time trying to find continued funding. We also need to be much more active in grasslands issues, in mine reclamation issues, and in building and maintaining the online tools and national bobwhite databases the states need,” said Duncan.

Headquartered at the University of Tennessee, NBCI is a project of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a range-wide, policy-level leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of state fish and wildlife agencies, academic research institutions and non-governmental conservation organizations. Policy guidance is provided by the NBCI Management Board, with each state wildlife agency director represented. NBCI is funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, two dozen state wildlife management agencies, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Southern Company and the Park Cities Chapter of the Texas Quail Coalition.

QUWF Steps Up Support of Wild Quail Restoration

PORTLAND, OR — The Buffalo, Missouri-based Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation (QUWF) stepped up support of national efforts to restore wild bobwhite quail populations recently, signing a formal agreement in support of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) during the annual meeting of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies.</p> <p>In the agreement, signed by QUWF Founder/Executive Director Craig Alderman and NBCI Management Board Chairman Dr. Jon Gassett during a regular meeting of the management board, the organization pledged to adopt and work with their local chapters to provide on-the-ground support of the NBCI Model Focal Area program in their respective states. The focal area approach is the new strategy being developed by the wildlife management agencies of the 25 NBCI-member states to increase wild quail populations at a landscape level.</p> <p>“QUWF is dedicated to improving habitat for multiple species of upland game, from deer and turkey to quail and rabbits,” said Alderman. “Everything done to help quail also helps other upland species in some way, and this gives our chapters the opportunity to leverage our impact on the habitat.”</p> <p>“From the beginning we’ve been very clear that the coordinated, on-the-ground support from our private conservation partners would be crucial in improving wild bobwhite quail numbers at the landscape scale,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “NBCI and the states look forward to identifying specific focal areas in the bobwhite range where QUWF chapters can target on-the-ground support. This is another big step for wild bobwhite restoration.</p> <p>Founded in 2009, the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, Inc. is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) conservation organization that emphasizes and supports the work of its chapters to create and manage upland habitat at the local level. For more information or to join QUWF, visit the organization’s website at www.quwf.net.</p> <p>Headquartered at the University of Tennessee, NBCI is a project of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a range-wide, policy-level leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of state fish and wildlife agencies, academic research institutions and non-governmental conservation organizations. NBCI is funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, the state wildlife management agencies, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Quail Coalition and Southern Company. For more information, please visit this link 

Virginia’s Duncan New NBCI Mgt. Board Chair

Bob Duncan, executive director of the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, is the new chairman of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative’s Management Board.Bob Duncan

Duncan replaces Dr. Jon Gassett, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, who recently resigned to accept a position with the Wildlife Management Institute. The NBCI board is comprised of the commissioner/director of each of the 25 state wildlife agencies in the NBCI region, or their designees. Meeting twice a year, their role is to provide high-level policy guidance to the national effort to restore wild bobwhites.

Duncan, a Radford, Virginia, native who has spent 36 of his 40-year wildlife career with the department, served as chief of wildlife for 18 of those years after initial stints in both Kansas and Tennessee. A certified wildlife biologist, he has served as president of the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and as president of the Southeastern Section of The Wildlife Society. The Virginia chapter of The Nature Conservancy recently honored Duncan with its Conservation Leadership and Partnership Award, and the Virginia Chapter of Ducks Unlimited named him Conservationist of the Year in July.

“The NBCI is providing critical national leadership and coordination for restoring wild bobwhites, a high conservation priority for Virginia and many other states,” said Duncan. “I’m excited and pleased for this opportunity to chair the NBCI Management Board that supports and helps guide this important state initiative, and work with the superb NBCI staff as we continue accelerating the pace of restoration.”

“While we are certainly sad to lose Jon Gassett’s leadership on our board,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie, “Bob Duncan is a very respected, highly visible and influential figure in American wildlife management. He’s been very vocal about the importance of coordinated state efforts through the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative to restore wild bobwhites and we look forward to working closely with him in his new role.”

TX Quail Group Supports NBCI Ag Policy Efforts with $75,000 Grant

Texas Quail Group Supports NBCI Ag Policy Efforts with $75,000 Grant

The Dallas-based, non-profit Park Cities Quail (PCQ) organization has awarded the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) $75,000 to support its efforts to educate federal agriculture policymakers in the nation’s capital regarding farm policy impacts on bobwhite quail and other wildlife species.

“The PCQ assistance is critical,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “The way federal agriculture policy is made and implemented using our tax dollars may be the single most powerful influence on wildlife and wildlife habitat on private lands across America,” McKenzie said. “That policy can be a negative influence or it can be a positive influence. To date, unfortunately, it’s been more of the former for bobwhite quail and a long list of songbirds, pollinators and other wildlife species.

“Park Cities Quail’s support will help us continue our efforts in Washington on behalf of bobwhites, while we seek the additional support required to remain engaged long-term with USDA in, for instance, incorporating common sense changes such as drought-tolerant, wildlife-friendly native grasses in their policies. That could be the single biggest positive step for quail and other wildlife species in decades.”

The NBCI grant was one of 10 totaling $770,000 PCQ awarded to various efforts on bobwhites’ behalf. The funds were raised at the organization’s annual dinner and auction in March in Dallas, which draws 1,000 sportsmen annually. For more information on PCQ and other grants, please visit http://goo.gl/ioYTrX .

UT to Continue as NBCI Headquarters

The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) will call the University of Tennessee its institutional home and national operations center for another five years.

UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) and NBCI representatives recently inked the new deal as the expiration of the original 2008 agreement neared. Embedded in UTIA’s Department of Forestry, Wildlife & Fisheries, NBCI is an initiative by 25 state wildlife agencies in the core bobwhite range and a number of research institutions and private conservation groups to restore populations of wild bobwhites. Funded primarily by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Southern Company, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and the 25 states, NBCI’s staff of five specializes in forest management, agriculture policy, research and communications at a regional and national level.

“We concentrate of activities that individual states or other entities can’t do, or do effectively, alone and individually to restore this game bird,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “And UT, the Institute and the Department of Forestry, Wildlife & and Fisheries have all been very supportive of our efforts to restore wild bobwhites to the landscape. We’re extremely pleased that UT will be our home and we will be UT employees for at least another five years.”

The feeling is mutual, according to department head Dr. Keith Belli. “The department and the Institute, are very proud to continue our role as host organization for NBCI.  We are committed to supporting efforts to bring back populations of bobwhites and associated grassland wildlife.”

For more information about NBCI, visit our website at www.bringbackbobwhites.org, on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bringbackbobwhites, and on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/BringBackBobwhites   

For more information about UTIA and the UT Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, visit https://ag.tennessee.edu/Pages/default.aspx and http://fwf.ag.utk.edu/ respectively.

Headquartered at the University of Tennessee, NBCI is a project of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a range-wide, policy-level leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of state fish and wildlife agencies, academic research institutions and non-governmental conservation organizations. NBCI is funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, two dozen state wildlife management agencies, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Southern Company.

Latest Quail Research Available in New Volume

The latest in peer-reviewed quail research is now available in a 386-page volume, Quail VII: Proceedings of the Seventh National Quail Symposium. Cover of the Proceedings of the 7th National Quail Symposium

Quail VII content is diverse, containing over 80 papers and abstracts—with 27 state and federal agencies, universities and institutes reporting on their work at the Seventh National Quail Symposium in Tucson, Arizona January 9-12, 2012. Geographically, the findings have implications for an area(s) bounded Oregon, Nebraska, New Jersey, and south to Florida and Brazil.

Quail VII covers a multitude of topics, including translocation of mountain quail and northern bobwhite, phylogeography of scaled quail and bobwhites (northern bobwhite, Yucatán bobwhite, spot-bellied bobwhite and crested bobwhite), hybridization of Gambel’s and California quail, Mearns’ (Montezuma) quail, nutrition, arthropods, exotic grasses, the Conservation Reserve Program, predation, parasites, eyeworms, survival, reproduction, thermoregulation, harvest prescriptions, climate change, economics, conservation planning, attitudes of private landowners, etc.

The research also covers a pervasive theme of quail management, pen-reared bobwhites. Two papers describe the actual efficacy of the Surrogator® system, and another describes a groundbreaking advancement, use of prenatal and post-hatch imprinting to improve survival of genetically wild pen-reared bobwhites.

Quail VII has the latest research and management on the endangered masked bobwhite.  The masked bobwhite is even closer to extinction than other gallinaceous birds recently in the news, the Gunnison sage grouse and lesser prairie-chicken.  Quail VII includes one of the most comprehensive reviews of masked bobwhite habitat and populations to date by species expert David E. Brown, plus the latest on natural and artificial restoration efforts in the USA and Mexico, and a review of effects of invasive grasses on masked bobwhite.

Quail VII also includes executive summaries of both the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative 2.0 (NBCI 2.0) and The Western Quail Plan, ensuring a permanent published record of these ground-breaking initiatives.

The Quail VII volume was made possible by contributions by Arizona Game and Fish Department, National Wild Turkey Federation, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy, Texas Tech Quail Tech Alliance and Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch. 

Copies are available for $40 at  https://bringbackbobwhites.org/donate-2/online-store.

 

Headquartered at the University of Tennessee, NBCI is a project of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a range-wide, policy-level leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of 25 state fish and wildlife agencies as well as academic research institutions and non-governmental conservation organizations. NBCI is funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, two dozen state wildlife management agencies, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Southern Company. For more information, please visit www.bringbackbobwhites.org

Row Crop Field Buffers Show Dramatic Increase in Bobwhite Potential in Most Regions

A conservation practice introduced in agricultural row crop settings in 2004 by USDA at the behest of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) has resulted in bobwhite populations up to three times greater than those found in traditionally managed crop fields, according to a just-released study of the program’s impacts.

Led by Mississippi State University, Forest and Wildlife Research Center, the study concluded that Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds, referred to as Conservation Practice 33 (CP33), added an average of 1.52 bobwhites to the fall population population for every acre of native grassland (grasses, forbs and legumes) in buffers. At the current enrollment of 238,046 acres, the study estimates the practice has added about 30,000 coveys to the landscape, each year. If program participation rose to the current cap of 500,000 acres there would be an estimated 63,000 coveys added. At an average of 12 quail per covey, that’s about three-quarters of a million more quail in the fall.

“This study clearly demonstrates what NBCI has said all along: that is, that substantial, measurable wildlife benefits can be achieved through strategically implemented conservation practices on working agricultural lands where much of the potential quail habitat exists,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “Furthermore, it shows how a relatively small change in primary land use – 5 percent — at little or no cost to landowners can have a disproportionately positive impact on bobwhite populations in some regions.  CP33 is a win for everyone. It allows the retirement of less productive field margins, often with net financial gains through the incentives, while providing environmental benefits like clean water and habitat for pollinators, quail and other grassland birds. NBCI urges a more comprehensive application of this efficient practice as a commonsense approach for government, for farms and for wildlife.”

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) implemented the Habitat for Upland Birds practice as part of their Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP) in 2004, initially allocating 250,000 acres in 35 states for 10 years of active management. Essentially, CP33 offers landowners incentives for establishing 30 to 120-foot-wide buffers of diverse native grasses and forbs along the edges of crop fields to provide habitat for bobwhites and other grassland birds. FSA also charged what is now the National Bobwhite Technical Committee with devising a monitoring protocol to measure the response of bobwhites and targeted songbird species. CP33 was the first USDA conservation reserve practice designed specifically to help meet recovery objectives of a large-scale conservation initiative, as well as the first and only USDA practice for which USDA requires monitoring to actually measure conservation impacts.

State fish and wildlife agencies, private conservation organizations and universities in 14 states collaborated with Dr. Wes Burger at Mississippi State University to monitor differences in bobwhite and upland songbird densities and buffer vegetation characteristics on nearly 600 buffered fields and an equal number of “non-buffered” fields from 2006-2011..

Among the report findings:

  • Researchers observed 50-110% greater fall bobwhite covey densities on CP33 fields across all states
    Map of Study Area BCRs
  • CP 33 works especially well in some regions, most notably  in the Southeastern Coastal Plain (Bird Conservation Region 27) where covey densities were three times greater, and in the Central Hardwoods (Bird Conservation Region 24) and the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (Bird Conservation Region 26), where covey densities were two times greater
  • Priority songbirds that share habitat with bobwhites, such as dickcissels and field sparrows, also benefitted from CP33 buffers
  • Required management activities designed to maintain habitat quality for bobwhites were implemented on less than half of the enrolled acres, presenting an opportunity for program improvement
  • Kansas and Oklahoma state wildlife departments conducted separate, but related, evaluations of CP33 for bobwhites and ring-necked pheasants, and found both species were more abundant with grass buffered crop fields compared to field lacking buffers
  • To have maximum impact, the buffered fields need to be strategically concentrated in relation to one another rather than stranded in isolated pockets across the landscape

Project Manager Dr. Kristine Evans identified another important outcome of thie study. “CP33 monitoring exemplifies that large-scale coordinated monitoring across multiple agencies/organizations is entirely possible and can be very successful in measuring programmatic outcomes given appropriate funding mechanisms and monitoring infrastructure.”

For more details about the technical aspects of the monitoring and the results, the full final report is available at https://bringbackbobwhites.org/strategy/nbci-2-0/doc_details/166-conservation-reserve-program-cp33-final-report-2006-2011

The national CP33 monitoring program was funded by the Multistate Conservation Grant Program (MSCG; Grants MS M-1-T and MS-M-2-R), a program supported with funds from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program and jointly managed by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Additional support was provided by Mississippi State University Forest and Wildlife Research Center, USDA-Farm Service Agency, and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service- Conservation Effects Assessment Project. 

Headquartered at the University of Tennessee, NBCI is a project of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a range-wide, policy-level leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of state fish and wildlife agencies, academic research institutions and non-governmental conservation organizations. NBCI is funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, two dozen state wildlife management agencies, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Southern Company.

Is USDA’s Nod to Native Grass Research Hopeful Sign for Wildlife, Producers, Consumers?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Native grasses on right, exotics on left during drought

The 25 state wildlife management agencies, various conservation groups and research institutes that together comprise the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) areexpressing hope that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) newly-announced research on native grasses as part of drought risk management will lead to changes in the agency’s forage subsidy policies.

USDA announced 13 Conservation Innovation Grants for 2013 in April, and two of the grants link native, warm-season grasses to drought management solutions for livestock producers.  NBCI Director Don McKenzie says that could be significant because for decades USDA subsidies on millions of acres of private pasturelands have emphasized aggressive, non-native grasses that offer little habitat for wildlife and are vulnerable to drought.  Convincing USDA to adopt native, warm-season grasses as a replacement for up to a third of those subsidized acres is a major NBCI objective because of the positive impact on bobwhite quail and other wildlife, as well as producers — and consumers who end up paying higher prices for beef.

“USDA’s forage subsidy policies are one of the main causes of bobwhite quail decline rangewide,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie, “as well as the decline of an entire suite of grassland songbirds. NBCI is working with USDA and a range of wildlife and conservation organizations to promote policies that benefit both producers and wildlife.”

The issue came into sharper focus in 2011-2012 as the drought left livestock producers across the country’s midsection with pastures full of drought-stricken cool-season exotics and no way to feed their herds. NBCI responded with a coalition of 30 conservation groups urging the USDA to shift a portion of their subsidies toward replanting drought-stricken pastures in drought-tolerant native forage grasses instead of the traditional exotics.

“If native grasses had been a substantial part of the agricultural mix we wouldn’t have seen so many producers in so much trouble during the drought,” said McKenzie, “… and we would have seen more quail and grassland songbirds. And taxpayers would not have to foot such a large bill for re-planting the same pastures that will again die during the next drought.”

One USDA grant of $398,714 went to a team of researchers at the University of Tennessee that included the Center for Native Grasslands Management and animal and plant scientists to study the integration of native, warm-season grasses in the “cow-calf production area” of Tennessee/Arkansas/Kentucky. The objective is to deliver “a comprehensive and transformative approach to forage production,” … (and to) “make a substantial impact on their ability to respond to droughts over the long-term.”  Grazing demonstrations will include a variety of native, warm-season grasses.

A second USDA grant of $400,153 went to Mississippi State University to demonstrate the drought mitigation impacts of native grasses utilized in both grazing systems and confined feeding operations for beef cattle compared with cool season forages.

Meanwhile, studies have already shown that native, warm-season forage grasses produce competitive amounts of hay per acre compared with the exotics, cost far less per acre to grow once established because of reduced fertilizer requirements, are longer-lived (lasting 15-20 years or more with proper management), that livestock actually prefer the native grasses over the exotics, and that the natives are extremely drought resistant.

Recently, the Arkansas Farm Bureau recently advised its membership to consider incorporating native, warm-season grasses as forage in the cover story of a recent issue of Arkansas Agriculture magazine. In addition, the Texas AgriLife Extension has published several works on establishing and managing native grasses in the Lone Star State, and several state wildlife agencies, including the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency have pages on their websites devoted to the subject.   

Earlier this month, even the New York Times touched on the subject when reporting on Texas ranchers’ struggle with drought impacts. However, one interviewee was Texas rancher Gary Price … who has continued his profitability through the 2011-2012 drought as his cows grazed on the native grasses he restored on his ranch after seeing how resilient they were. 

“Integrating native, warm-season grasses into livestock operations is simply a commonsense approach that’s good for producers, good for wildlife, good for consumers and good for taxpayers,” said McKenzie.

New Bobwhite Foundation Gets $1M Commitment

Joe Crafton with dog and bird

 

A bobwhite enthusiast in Texas kicked off fundraising for the new Bobwhite Foundation this week with a $100,000 endowment …and a promise to match up to $1 million in “endowed”

 
 
 
 

donations from any other source within the next two years.

Joe Crafton, founder and chair of Park Cities Quail in Dallas, made the announcement via video to a meeting of the Management Board of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) at the North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference in Arlington, VA Tuesday.  A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Crafton is CEO and president of CROSSMARK, a leading sales and marketing services company in the consumer goods industry headquartered in Dallas.

In his recorded video message to the NBCI Management Board, Crafton said he had grown up in West Tennessee hunting bobwhite quail on the ancestral farm with his father, who had grown up quail hunting there with his father. His father was devastated at the quail decline, but Crafton said he personally was “thrilled” to see populations of bobwhites when he moved to the Lone Star State, where he proceeded to establish the Park Cities Quail organization. The organization has raised more than $3 million for quail research in the state. Crafton was also instrumental in the founding of the Quail Coalition, linking 12 independent, private quail groups around the state.

Crafton said there are many good things going on for quail in various states, including Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Kentucky, and he wants to ensure those things are communicated and coordinated as best practices across the range and to the public. Repeating outdoor columnist Tom Davis’ description of the bobwhite situation as “our greatest wildlife tragedy,” Crafton said “there are a lot of people who would like to contribute and don’t know how … my father would have contributed to the Bobwhite Foundation if it had existed … I’m confident throughout the South and Midwest we have lots of passionate quail hunters who are doing their estate planning and can contribute to this cause.” Crafton said he was supporting the foundation in honor of his father.

“Bobwhite restoration is unlike any species restoration that’s been attempted,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “Deer, turkey and elk were relatively simple and straightforward. Habitat existed and we moved animals there. Much like waterfowl restoration, bobwhite restoration is a habitat issue. “Bobwhites didn’t disappear overnight and they won’t recover that way either… which means it’s a multi-year challenge requiring a long-term commitment.  This is the first critical step in assuring that the bobwhite restoration effort has reliable funding to continue long-term. Joe’s passion for bobwhites and his willingness to launch the foundation’s efforts in memory of his father are immensely important, and we are extremely thankful for his leadership in this arena,” McKenzie said.

The Bobwhite Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established to support the goals and objectives of NBCI, primarily by recreating habitat by “reconnecting” forest management with quail, cattle production with quail, pursing quail habitat possibilities on reclaimed mine lands and communicating to the public the urgent nature of the decline of habitat for quail and other wildlife species around the nation.

Virginia Wildlife, Forestry Agencies Team Up for Bobwhites

Virginia is stepping up its part in the overall national wild bobwhite quail restoration effort with an agreement between two state agencies to target pine forests in the state’s six “bobwhite focus areas” to create habitat for bobwhites and other wildlife, while improving commercial timber value.

 
Virginia Quail Focus Areas

The Virginia Department of Forestry, an original member of the Virginia Quail Council, is assisting the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, a member of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI), to identify interested private, non-industrial forest landowners in the 15 counties that comprise the state’s six quail focus areas to embrace forestry best management practices conducive to bobwhites. The practices include both pre-commercial and commercial thinning of pine stands, planting of shortleaf pine seedlings and the use of an approved herbicide in controlling hardwood undergrowth. Approved landowners can earn up to $10,000 in cost sharing for their participation.

While many think of bobwhite quail in an “agricultural” setting, open pine stands, or “savannahs,” have historically been productive locations for bobwhites — as well as rabbits, turkeys, deer and numerous other bird species. Thinning pine stands allows sunlight to reach the ground, which stimulates the growth of native vegetation quail need for food, raising their young and protection from predators. Shortleaf pine is a slow-growing species, so planting it helps keep the pine stand open longer, requiring less maintenance to preserve it as wildlife habitat.

 
Pine Savannah in Virginia

“Most farms in Virginia have more timberland than open farmland,” explained Marc Puckett, the state’s quail coordinator and chair of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee. “With commodity crop prices at all-time highs, landowners are now even less likely to devote that agricultural space to bobwhites. But their woodlands do provide a management option.

“In addition, the management practices we’re supporting for quail in this project are actually good for timber health. So it’s a win for the landowner, a win for the timber and a win for wildlife. We’re fortunate to have a state forestry agency that recognizes and promotes these ideas. We hope the program will prove successful and develop long term support.”

Mike Black, forestry coordinator for the NBCI, enthusiastically endorses the Virginia effort, saying “There is no greater opportunity in the historic range of bobwhite quail for habitat restoration than the forested landscape, and reconnecting forests with quail is one of NBCI’s top priorities. We encourage state forestry entities in all 25 NBCI states to join in examining opportunities for wildlife habitat creation on both public and private forestlands in their respective states.”

Virginia’s bobwhite focus area counties where the landowner offer is valid include Bland, Wythe, Greensville, Southampton, Sussex, Culpeper, Greene, Madison, Orange, Rappahannock, Essex, King and Queen, King William, Halifax and Augusta.

The Virginia wildlife agency provides additional information about managing forests for wildlife at

http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/quail/managing-pines-smaller.pdf and http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/quail/forest-land-habitat-management.asp.

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