The 5,000-acre Manassas National Battlefield Park in Manassas, Virginia, just 30 miles from the nation’s capital, is the next National Park Service (NPS) unit scheduled to work collaboratively with the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) — and the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (DGIF)– on the landscape-scale restoration of grassland ecosystems and bobwhite quail.
“NPS managers look forward to building on the work at the first NPS Focal Area at Pea Ridge National Military Park, a collaborative project with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, at Manassas,” said NPS National Ecologist Jordan Spaak. “Participating in NBCI’s Coordinated Implementation Program (CIP) provides a unique opportunity to compare grassland habitat and its impacts on grassland obligate species, including bobwhite quail, across a large landscape. Virginia DGIF has been at the forefront of the CIP program, making them a great partner for the Manassas project,” Spaak said. “Manassas NBP can serve as a model of how to restore native warm season grasses, and maintain and preserve the cultural landscape,” said Spaak, who adds that many park units have expressed an interest in completing grassland restoration projects and serving as a CIP Focal Area.
“The park has already converted about 1,000 acres to native grassland in their efforts to restore a more historically correct landscape,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie, “so the management staff is off to a great start. And, they still have a small population of wild bobwhites that likely can be boosted with basic management of the restored habitats. The park’s participation will help further expand our restoration efforts, create a potential new source population of birds, create new opportunities for the park’s nearly one million visitors to hear and see bobwhites, and to learn the story of the nation’s bobwhite, grassland bird and pollinator declines,” McKenzie said.
“Our department is excited to see this new NBCI Model Focal Area under development at Manassas National Battlefield Park, the first on a national park unit in Virginia,” said Bob Duncan, director of the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries. “NBCI’s Coordinated Implementation Program will be a cornerstone to long-term quail recovery. The Park Service is bringing national level attention to the plight of the bobwhite quail and their efforts at Manassas will help highlight how even in an area surrounded by suburbia, with the right habitat management, the bobwhite quail can still thrive.”
The work is proceeding under an agreement between NBCI and NPS signed last year. It provides a formal mechanism for the two entities to work together, along with the respective NBCI state wildlife agencies, to collaboratively identify and restore native grasslands habitats on suitable park properties, with certain park units serving as formal bobwhite focal areas.
NBCI is working to establish large-scale “focal areas” where habitat—and the birds—can be restored to demonstrate that recovery of bobwhites and declining grassland songbirds and pollinators is possible given appropriate habitat management at the proper scale. Under its Coordinated Implementation Program (CIP) the minimum NBCI focal area size is 1,500 acres. At that size the areas has to be 100 per cent usable bobwhite habitat. (The average CIP focal area is more than 8,000 acres.) Certain consistent habitat assessments and bird monitoring protocols are also required. (For more information on the CIP, please visit our website for a four-page summary, https://bringbackbobwhites.org/download/popular-summary-nbci-coordination-implementation-program/ ).
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 413 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 the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries: Our mission is to:
Conserve and manage wildlife populations and habitat for the benefit of present and future generations.
Connect people to Virginia’s outdoors through boating, education, fishing, hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing, and other wildlife-related activities.
Protect people and property by promoting safe outdoor experiences and managing human-wildlife conflicts.
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.