States ID 195 Million Acres as Bobwhite Priority with Release of NBCI 2.0
KANSAS CITY, MO. – If its habitat management goals were to be fully implemented across “priority” landscapes it could add 4.6 million additional coveys – or more than 55 million birds — to the plummeting populations of bobwhites across the range, estimates the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI).
That was one message delivered Thursday night at an evening reception packed with representatives from an array of federal, state and private conservation organizations at the North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference. They gathered to see the 25 states comprising the core range of the northern bobwhite quail unveil the new, web-based NBCI 2.0, the massive revision and expansion of the original 2002 printed bobwhite plan, known then as the “Northern” Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. It was instituted primarily by 16 southeastern states to help reverse the drastic decline of quail and a suite of other wildlife species dependent on disappearing diversity of native grasses, wildflowers and shrubs on rangelands, farmlands, grasslands and timberlands.
“The original 2002 NBCI changed the game for bobwhite conservation and grasslands conservation overall in many ways; this revised NBCI will raise our game,” NBCI Director Don McKenzie told the audience. “This second edition goes light years beyond the initial paper-based effort in 2002. This new NBCI is a dynamic, interactive, web-connected geographic information system created by an innovative combination of satellite imagery, landscape databases, professional biological judgment and knowledge of priorities in rural communities. This is an initiative by the states, for the states. And it’s really just the beginning at a truly range-wide scale.”
Essentially a range-wide prescription for bobwhite recovery, NBCI 2.0 includes a thorough update and analysis of the bobwhite’s situation, a survey and classification of 600 million acres of landscape across the bobwhite range, and inventories 195 million acres of priority landscapes where bobwhite and grasslands conservation have a relatively high potential of success. It also prescribes specific management actions necessary for those acres to achieve respective state bobwhite population goals, and identifies specific keys to success, such as the addition and management of diverse native grasses and wildflowers to agricultural fields, pasture lands and forests.
NBCI 2.0 includes a massive database with an array of custom digital applications – the NBCI Conservation Planning Tool (CPT) – that helps bobwhite biologists quickly analyze habitat prospects at regional, state, county or landowner levels, and plan and implement projects for the greatest return on investment.
Paired with the online plan and tools for implementation is a small NBCI staff to help generate support for state efforts and, over time, help states address constraints to bobwhite recovery at a range-wide or national level.
The 233-page report can be accessed by visiting the NBCI website at www.bringbackbobwhites.org/strategy/nbci-20, or through Tall Timbers Research Station at http://nbci.ttrs.org/nbci/ConservationPlanningTool/docs/NBCIver2.0.pdf. The digital Conservation Planning Tool will be available at http://nbci.ttrs.org/nbci/ConservationPlanningTool.htm. (Visitors can view only portions of the material here, with complete access limited to professional biologists and conservation planners.)
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. For more information, please visit www.bringbackbobwhites.org