The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is honoring a leading quail conservation group in Texas with the Director’s Fire Bird Conservation Award for the group’s enormously positive impact on new quail habitat development on the landscape scale in the Lone Star state and across the bobwhite range.
“The commitment of the Dallas-based Park Cities Quail organization to fund NBCI’s agriculture liaison position in Washington, D.C., has had an enormously positive impact on policies that promote the development of new quail habitat in Texas and elsewhere,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie.
McKenzie said Texas alone has nearly 24,000 acres of new quail habitat because of NBCI’s advocacy for a change in CRP policy by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. The change allowed the un-irrigated corners of fields using center pivot irrigation systems to be automatically accepted into the program’s CP33 practice without requiring the corners being connected by field borders. The national impact so far is over 45,000 acres.
“The work on that issue by NBCI’s agriculture liaison in the capital was critical and essential to effecting that policy change,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie said NBCI’s Washington presence was also critical in bobwhite quail being approved by the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service as a national priority species “in need of conservation” under the Working Lands for Wildlife program. That announcement came in November last year and is targeting 232,000 new acres in 13 states by fiscal year 2018.
“Park Cities Quail illustrates the local and national impact a private quail conservation group can have with strategic support at the national level,” McKenzie said. “We are recognizing and thanking them for that support in this way. We also want all other bobwhite enthusiasts around the range to understand the impact this group is having and appreciate their contributions to the cause as well.”
The Director’s Fire Bird Conservation Award is awarded at the NBCI director’s discretion, in consultation with the National Bobwhite Technical Committee’s steering committee. The “fire bird” terminology references Herbert Stoddard’s use of the phrase in noting the bobwhite’s positive response to fire. Announced at the last meeting of the NBCI Management Board during the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, the award will be officially presented soon to Park Cities Quail in Texas .
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 and Park Cities Quail.