The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is the unified strategic effort of 25 state fish and wildlife agencies and various conservation organizations — all under the umbrella of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee — to restore wild populations of bobwhite quail in this country to levels comparable to 1980.
The first such effort, in 2002, was a paper-based plan by the Southeastern Quail Study Group under the umbrella of Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. That plan, termed the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, attracted considerable attention around the country, including that of the other states in the bobwhite quail range. The result was a broad expansion of the effort and a revision of the plan (and the Southeastern Quail Study Group itself, now the National Bobwhite Technical Committee) to include 25 states in the bobwhite’s core range
Today, NBCI is a multi-faceted initiative characterized by key elements:
- an easily updated, online strategic (NBCI 2.0) plan released in March 2011
- a massive and easily updated online Geographic Information System (GIS)-based conservation tool to help state biologists and other conservation planners identify and achieve individual state objectives within the overall national strategy, also released in March 2011. (Over 600 biologists within the bobwhite’s range participated in building this conservation tool.)
- The NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program (CIP) to help states adapt the national strategy to the local level
- A small team of specialists in grasslands, forestry, government, communications and research to work at regional and national levels to identify opportunities and remove obstacles to bobwhite restoration
- Working lands habitats
- Bobwhites and grassland birds can be increased and sustained on working public and private lands across their range by improving and managing native grassland and early successional habitats, accomplished through modest, voluntary adjustments in how humans manage rural land.
- Landscape-scale habitat problem
- Long-term, widespread population declines for bobwhites and grassland birds arise predominantly from subtle but significant landscape-scale changes occurring over several decades in how humans use and manage rural land.
- Stewardship responsibility
- Reversing long-term, widespread population declines of wild bobwhites, associated grassland birds and the native grassland ecosystems in whichthey thrive is an important wildlife conservation objective and an overdue stewardship responsibility.
- Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) are a traditional and valued part of our nation’s cultural, rural, hunting and economic heritage. Widespread restoration of huntable populations of wild quail will have myriad positive societal benefits for individuals and families, rural communities, cultures and economies.
- Interjurisdictional responsibilities
- State wildlife agencies bear legal authority and leadership responsibility for bobwhite conservation, while migratory grassland birds legally are a legal co-responsibility with the federal government; however, the vast majority of actual and potential grassland bird habitats is privately owned.
- Partnerships and collaboration
- Restoration success depends on a comprehensive network of deliberate, vigorous and sustained collaboration with land owners and managers by state, federal and local governments as well as by corporate, non-profit, and individual private conservationists.
- Strategic approach
- Success requires a long-term, range-wide strategic campaign combined with coordinated, effective action at all levels of society and government, to create a public movement to address conservation policy barriers and opportunities that have the needed landscape-scale influences.
- Adaptive management
- Adaptive resource management principles will inform and increase the efficiency of restoration and management and to satisfy multi-resource and multi-species needs.
- Long-term challenge
- Following a half-century of decline, landscape-scale restoration of bobwhite and grassland bird habitats and populations across their range will require determined and sustained conservation leadership, priority, funding and focus for decades to come.
Don was born in Savannah, GA and raised in Decatur, AL. He earned his B.S. in Wildlife Management at Auburn University in 1984, and his M.S. in Wildlife at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1987. His graduate research was on utilization of natural moist-soil food resources by waterfowl on Mingo NWR in southeast Missouri. A side project, conducted to construct water and nutrient budgets within enclosed moist-soil impoundments, documented long-term risks to the sustainability of plant productivity and waterfowl habitat values.Don joined the South Carolina Waterfowl Association as Chief Biologist in 1987, helping start and grow the new group. He advanced to Washington, DC in early 1991 to join the Wildlife Management Institute as Conservation Policy Coordinator, working primarily on agricultural and wetland conservation policy for 6 ½ years. Don left WMI in 1997 to raise his children in the Southeast, and began work for the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission as Assistant Chief of Wildlife Management, where he supervised the Programs Section for more than two years. In late 1999, Don returned to WMI as the Southeast Field Representative.In autumn 2004, Don accepted a long-term assignment from WMI to the former Southeast Quail Study Group, as the Coordinator for the then-named Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. In October 2009, Don was employed by the University of Tennessee, the new national operational center for the NBCI, but continues to work out of his home near Ward, Arkansas, while providing national leadership for bobwhite and native grassland restoration across the eastern half of the U.S.
Tom Dailey is NBCI’s assistant director and science coordinator. Prior to joining NBCI in July 2010, Tom was a scientist for 23 years with the Missouri Department of Conservation working on quail, rabbits and wild turkeys. Tom’s quail research started in the 1980s at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University, Kingsville, and continued in Missouri and Illinois. Tom specialized in wildlife nutrition and physiology in Texas and Colorado, earning a Ph.D. at Colorado State University studying bighorn sheep and mountain goats.In addition to those specialties, Tom published scientific and popular articles on white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, swamp and cottontail rabbits, insects, songbirds, quail hunting, geographic information systems, landowner attitudes toward conservation, and corn and soybean production. When not working, Tom and his wife Sandy enjoy their 6 grandchildren, and they are making sure each knows how to garden, hunt, mountain bike, ski and kayak.
Tom Franklin is the agriculture liaison for the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative and served as senior director of science and policy with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.Tom’s education includes a B.S. in natural resource conservation and wildlife management from the University of Maryland and a M.S. in administrative science from The Johns Hopkins University.Tom started his conservation career studying human/wildlife interactions as a wildlife biologist and executive director with the nonprofit Urban Wildlife Research Center. He then joined The Wildlife Society as Field Director where he led local and regional program development and as Policy Director where he led the government relations program. He later became Conservation Director for the Izaak Walton League of America and also was owner of The Wildlife Authority, a nature-oriented retail business.Tom is a Certified Wildlife Biologist. He has authored articles for professional and popular outlets concerning wildlife management, association leadership and natural resource policy. His work has been recognized by the Daniel L. Leedy Urban Wildlife Conservation Award; Professional of the Year award from the Maryland/Delaware Chapter of The Wildlife Society; and received The Wildlife Society’s President’s Award and Special Recognition Service Award. He served as President of The Wildlife Society from 2008-’09 and is a Wildlife Society Fellow. He also served on two national advisory committees including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Farm and Ranchland Advisory Committee and the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council that advises the Secretaries of the US Departments of Agriculture and Interior.He is on the Executive Committee of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners; Steering Committee of the Teaming With Wildlife Coalition; served on the Board of Directors for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, chairs the Wildlife Diversity Advisory Committee for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and is a member of the Howard County, Maryland Recreation and Parks Advisory Board. Tom is an avid outdoorsman and especially enjoys fishing, hunting, bird dogs, nature study and managing habitat for wildlife on his family farms in Virginia.
NBCI’s grasslands coordinator, Jef grew up in the Osage Plains of west central Missouri where a majority of his formative outdoor experiences occurred. It is through this association his passion for grasslands and associated wildlife was nurtured. Jef lives on a farm his family has owned since the early ’70s with his wife Jean. They have 2 children and 2 grandchildren.He is a Missouri-based wildlife biologist with experience in the commercial native plant seed market as well as years of experience in leading bobwhite habitat development across a broad section of the U.S. A certified wildlife biologist, Hodges has a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Missouri and worked with the Missouri Department of Conservation in native grass restoration, as a plant manager and marketer with a native seed company in Missouri, as a regional director and biologist (covering Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin) with the now-defunct Quail Unlimited conservation group, and owner/manager of his own company, Total Resource Management, LLC.He is a certified technical service provider by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), serves on the NRCS State Technical Committee in Missouri, the Missouri Prescribed Fire Council and is a member of the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, Quail Forever, the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Quality Deer Management Association.Jef enjoys game bird hunting with his Britney spaniel, turkey and duck hunting as well as photography and motorcycle riding.
Steve Chapman is the Forestry Coordinator for the NBCI. Steve is a GA Registered Forester and a Society of American Foresters Certified Forester. Prior to joining NBCI, Steve worked as a consulting forester after retiring from the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) in 2013. Steve has a BS in Forest Resources from the D.B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia Steve continues to be active in the Society of American Foresters where he currently serves as the Chair-elect of the Georgia Division. Steve is married and has one daughter. He enjoys hunting, fishing and just being outside.
As communications director, John manages NBCI’s web and social media presence as well as media relations and communications strategies. He has an undergraduate degree in journalism and professional experience in daily newspaper reporting, editing and publishing, subscription-based magazine publishing (both established and start-up), natural resource PR & communications in the federal sector, freelance writing and photography, and corporate communications for start-up entities. He is a member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers, a member and past president of both the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association and the Tennessee Outdoor Writers Association. In his spare time, he enjoys photography, fly fishing, shooting, boating, kayaking and living on the shores of Norris Lake near Knoxville, Tennessee, with his wife, Carol