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.
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.