15 States Scheduled to Virtually Participate In NBCI Bobwhite Focal Area Training Sept. 3

State wildlife agency biologists and land managers from 15 states and partners will gather virtually 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Sept. 3 for training on the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative’s (NBCI) Coordinated Implementation Program, or CIP.

CIP is a science-based approach to bobwhite habitat with consistent habitat and bird monitoring requirements across the range, as well as reference or control areas for comparison purposes. The program is aimed at demonstrating bobwhite populations can be recovered when the proper amount and arrangement of habitat are provided within a landscape-scale focal area and conclusively proving that habitat (or lack of it) is the fundamental cause of long-term bobwhite quail decline. There are currently 163,748 acres in 26 focal areas across 20 of NBCI’s 25 states.

Seminar topics will include how to collect and enter habitat management data, future plans for entry of hunting data, an upcoming mobile application for habitat monitoring data collection, a discussion of other online tools states might like to have developed for investigating their CIP habitat and bird monitoring data, and a discussion of potential revisions to NBCI 2.0, a detailed breakdown of issues affecting bobwhite populations in the NBCI states, corrective actions needed, and an analysis of the individual 25 states for bobwhite habitat potential in categories of high, medium, low and non-existent.

States participating in the training include Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

About NBCI

Headquartered at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture/Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is a science and habitat-based 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 to restore wild bobwhites on a landscape scale. 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, 25 state wildlife agencies, the Joe Crafton Family Endowment for Quail Initiatives, the University of Tennessee, Roundstone Native Seed, and Lotek. Media Contact: John Doty, jdoty3@utk.edu

Quail 9 National Quail Symposium Set for Aug. 1-5, 2022, in Springfield, MO

Quail 9, a national quail symposium originating 1972, is scheduled Aug. 1-5, 2022, in Springfield, MO. The week will begin with the 28th annual meeting of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) and continue as the ninth national symposium, a joint effort of the Missouri Department of Conservation, University of Missouri, University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) and NBTC.

NBCI issued the first call for papers Aug. 28. Conference information and the Call for Papers can be found on the Quail Symposium website at https://www.quailcount.org/quailsymposium/home.html. Proceedings from previous symposia can be found online on the publications page of the Quail Symposium website. Beginning with Quail 7, the symposia series has been led by NBCI and NBTC. Since Quail 3 in 1992, the symposium has included western quail.

Quail 9 will feature current quail management and research, including updates and progress of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative and The Western Quail Plan. Authors are being encouraged to publish work relating to the NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program, a science-based approach to bobwhite habitat with consistent habitat and bird monitoring requirements across the range, as well as reference or control areas for comparison purposes. The program is aimed at demonstrating bobwhite populations can be recovered when the proper amount and arrangement of habitat are provided within a landscape-scale focal area and conclusively proving that habitat (or lack of it) is the fundamental cause of long-term bobwhite quail decline.

Abstracts will be reviewed by the Quail 9 editorial committee, and those deemed suitable for development as full manuscripts will be selected, with authors notified by February 15, 2021. Subsequent manuscript deadline is July 15, 2021, enabling distribution of the peer-reviewed proceedings. The Quail 9 proceedings will be available electronically only.

About NBCI
Headquartered at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture/Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is a science and habitat-based 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 to restore wild bobwhites on a landscape scale. 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, 25 state wildlife agencies, the Joe Crafton Family Endowment for Quail Initiatives, the University of Tennessee, Roundstone Native Seed and Lotek.

Dr. Linda Ordiway to Lead West Virginia Quail Efforts

A Bradford, Pennsylvania native, Dr. Linda Ordiway, will lead West Virginia’s efforts to restore wild bobwhite quail to the landscape. She expects her initial efforts to be concentrated on the 25,000-acre Tomblin Wildlife Management Area, which has been managed for elk habitat and where 48 bobwhites from Texas were recently released. She will also lead the state’s grouse restoration efforts.

Dr. Ordiway

“Our intent is to improve our habitat conditions on our wildlife management areas so that we can have a self-sustaining quail population,” said Dr. Ordiway.  “We have documented reproduction this summer.” Dr. Ordiway expects to be active on the National Bobwhite Technical Committee and serve as West Virginia’s regular contact with the 25-state National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI). Paul Johansen, chief of the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, is chair of the NBCI Management Board, comprised of state agency directors and wildlife chiefs who guide initiative policy.

Dr. Ordiway spent 14 years as a wildlife biologist with the US Forest Service’s Northeast Forestry Sciences Lab in the Allegheny National Forest and the last nine years with the Ruffed Grouse Society as Mid-Atlantic Southern Appalachian Regional biologist. She attended Lock Haven University for a BS in Secondary Education Biology, Marshall University for her MS in Biology and State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry for her PhD in Forest and Natural Resource Management. She is an avid grouse and woodcock hunter with a brace of Weimaraners.

National Bobwhite Technical Group Honors Kowaleski Posthumously

The National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) posthumously honored a 19-year veteran of the group during its 26th annual meeting, originally scheduled for Arkansas but conducted virtually instead. Chuck Kowaleski, of Texas, received the 2020 NBTC Leadership Award for his significant, long-term contributions to the bobwhite restoration cause.

“Chuck helped shape the future of bobwhite conservation management in the United States, was a strong advocate for the NBTC mission, and made significant contributions to habitat conservation efforts nationwide,” said NBTC chair Robert Perez with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). “And with his life experience, it’s no wonder that Chuck never passed up a teachable moment.”

Kowaleski was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, West Africa, a high school biology teacher, an urban biologist, and managed Texas Project Wild teacher trainings, all before joining the NBTC. When Kowaleski became the TPWD Farm Bill Coordinator in 2001, he joined the Southeast Quail Study Group, the forerunner of the NBTC. His contributions included serving as chair and vice chair of the Agriculture Policy Subcommittee, and chair and treasurer of the NBTC Steering Committee.

During his tenure as the TPWD Farm Bill coordinator, Chuck partnered with a variety of organizations to implement programs creating special focus areas benefitting various wildlife species, including bobwhites. Those areas provided $35.3 million in federal cost share to 1,208 landowners in habitat improvements for priority species on 1.79 million acres. Over 325,000 of those acres were specifically for bobwhites.

“Chuck provided a direct connection to the national Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), as chair of AFWA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program Working Group,” said Perez. “He also provided invaluable leadership for NBTC’s work to establish a national Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) policy favoring the use of native plants in Farm Bill programs and native grasses as federally subsidized replacements for drought-susceptible, exotic pasture grasses that USDA traditionally promotes. Over the years, Chuck provided expert guidance and counsel to our committee regarding Farm Bill programs, including those with multiple benefits for landowners, farmer/ranchers, and wildlife. Chuck always spoke up for what was right, was the first to lend a hand, and was more than willing to listen to your concerns and offer sound advice.” Numerous NBTC meeting attendees also took the opportunity to share memories of their interactions with Kowaleski.

Kowaleski received many accolades for his dedication to conservation before retiring in 2019, including the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Wildlife Biologist of the Year Award in 2014 and the Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Conservation Service Award in 2017.

Shane Mahoney Headlines Annual Meeting Of Bobwhite Quail Experts Next Week

Internationally known natural resource conservation speaker Shane Mahoney, of Newfoundland, will provide the plenary address to the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) Tuesday, July 28 during its meeting through Thursday. The group will also hear Bridgett Costanzo with the Natural Resources Conservation Service on “The Role of Working Lands for Wildlife in Landscape Conservation.”

Originally scheduled for Arkansas, the 26th annual meeting has been moved to a virtual platform.

Representatives from state wildlife agencies, research institutions and private conservation organizations, NBTC created the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI). It serves in an advisory capacity for NBCI’s work at the regional and national levels on behalf of landscape scale restoration of wild bobwhite quail.

During the week participants will meet in subcommittees based on areas of expertise and interest to cover science, forestry, grasslands/agriculture and communications, and will report their findings to the steering committee at the meeting’s conclusion. State quail coordinators will also meet among themselves during the week to consider additional ways NBCI might assist in furthering their respective state-based restoration efforts.

Native Grasslands Alliance Makes Debut for National Prairie Day

A new alliance of organizations dedicated to the voluntary restoration of native grasses on working lands in the U.S. is launching this week in conjunction with National Prairie Day celebration, Saturday, June 6, founded by the Missouri Prairie Foundation.

The Native Grasslands Alliance (NGA) includes organizations whose core missions include a commitment to restore native grasslands vegetation on agricultural/working landscapes. The NGA will work to provide a unified voice, one that can amplify the message about the importance and value of native grasslands.  Outreach efforts by the NGA will focus on federal/state lawmakers and agencies, the agriculture education sector, and key citizen and non-profit conservation groups across the country.

Among the NGA’s founding members are the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Southeastern Grasslands Initiative, Truax Company, Inc., the National Wildlife Federation, Center for Native Grasslands Management, Missouri Prairie Foundation, Roundstone Native Seed, Chesapeake Valley Seed and the Quality Deer Management Association.

The alliance has grown out of the Natives First Coalition, an effort launched by the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) to educate those associated with the development of the 2018 Farm Bill about the contributions native grasses make to agriculture, wildlife, water and air quality, and soil conservation and health. Seeking a voluntary, non-regulatory native vegetation policy in USDA agricultural conservation programs, the effort resulted in recognition of the contribution of native vegetation in the conference managers’ report and instructions to use natives when “practicable.” Subsequently, a subset of coalition participants identified the need for a more organized, diverse and formal group to continue building on that momentum.

“Although there are tremendous local and regional efforts promoting native grasslands, the grassland community has lacked a national, coordinated, unified voice illuminating the value of native grasslands,” said acting NBCI Director Dr. Pat Keyser. “The Native Grasslands Alliance provides that voice to elevate the status and ultimately the adoption of native grassland vegetation into working landscapes. The NGA isn’t just about working landscape though, we also recognize the importance of preserving what’s left of critical, remnant native grasslands and restoration where possible.”

The new alliance is focused around four working groups; policy, research, technical education and awareness. Organizations are encouraged to participate in one or more of the groups.

“We’re asking individuals to encourage their respective organizations to join the NGA. Individuals may join the NGA Community to keep up-to-date on NGA activities and participate in working groups,” Dr. Keyser said.

For more information and to join, organizational representatives should visit www.nativegrasslandsalliance.org.

Study Shows Targeted CRP Practices Can Boost Bobwhite Populations

New research indicates that the nation’s largest private lands conservation program, the USDA Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, can magnify its impacts on bobwhite quail, grassland birds and other wildlife if it is applied to the landscape at scale and in locations already targeted by complementary management activities. The study was commissioned by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and conducted by seven state wildlife agencies, NBCI and the University of Georgia (UGA).

“Although more study needs to be done, these results lend credence to belief that the impact of CRP can be maximized by targeting these programs to working landscapes that are already being managed and monitored,” said acting director of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) Dr. Pat Keyser.

“Now in its 35th year, CRP provides a win-win for both people and the environment by controlling soil erosion, improving water quality and―as we see here―increasing wildlife populations by creating critical habitats,” said USDA’s Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce. “This study’s findings are exactly the kind of outcomes we aim for with CRP, proving that the program can lead to great conservation benefits.”

The research shows Farm Bill Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practices applied on a landscape-scale or “focal area” approach, being demonstrated by the NBCI, have a 78% chance of improving breeding season bobwhite populations and a 95% chance of improving non-breeding season populations.

“Our objectives were to understand how CRP influences northern bobwhite populations at landscape scales to uncover any differences in the efficiency of CRP in focal landscapes versus CRP in unmanaged or reference areas,” said Dr. James Martin, associate professor of UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.

“Conservation Reserve Program practices that use native vegetation were much more productive in managed landscapes than unmanaged ones. For example, in a focal area landscape, preliminary results indicate that for every 5% increase in whole-field herbaceous-based CRP practices (e.g., CP2) in a landscape a bobwhite covey is added to the population.”

Dr. Martin said the size of the landscape mattered depending on the season, with any CRP field farther than 1.2 miles away from a local population had no influence in breeding season, while during non-breeding season a CRP field up to five miles away positively impacted the local population.

“This study highlights the importance of the landscape-scale, targeted approach to conservation in farmlands,” said Dr. John Yeiser, UGA research associate, adding the study also demonstrated that CRP in isolation is less efficient than in clusters, and that there may be variability in the impacts of CRP in different regions depending on the amount or arrangement of resources that are complementary to those added by CRP practices.

Participating states with NBCI focal areas were Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. NBCI’s focal area program requires a minimum of 1,500 acres of managed habitat, an unmanaged reference or control area for comparison and formal habitat and bird monitoring practices. Fifteen focal and reference areas totaling more than 150,000 acres were involved in the study.

For more detail read the full report at https://bringbackbobwhites.org/download/fsa-bobwhite-report/.

For more detail about the Conservation Reserve Program, visit https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/conservation-programs/conservation-reserve-program/

About NBCI

Headquartered at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture/Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is a science and habitat-based 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 to restore wild bobwhites on a landscape scale. 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 & Upland Game Alliance, Park Cities Quail and Roundstone Native Seed.

Media Contact: John Doty, jdoty3@utk.edu

NBCI Centralizes Bobwhite Seminars for Easy Reference

The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) has collected on its website links to five educational webinars related to the latest science-based habitat management strategies for bobwhite quail for easier user access. NBCI sponsored the webinars, sometimes with other partners and presenters, over the past several months. The webinars reflect some of NBCI’s key strategic priorities in wild bobwhite restoration.

“These webinars, which were originally broadcast for us and then housed by Southern Regional Extension Forestry, remain a valuable resource for wildlife managers, foresters and land managers,” said Dr. Pat Keyser, NBCI Interim Director. “And there is turnover of personnel involved in the bobwhite management arena, as in any other field, so there is always a new and continuing audience for these efforts.”

There are five available webinars:

  • Managing Oak Forests for Bobwhite Quail (Dr. Dwayne Elmore, Oklahoma State University)
  • Maintaining Quail and Grassland Bird Habitat in the Agricultural Landscape (Lisa Potter, Missouri Department of Conservation)
  • Understory Herbicides for Bobwhites and Other Wildlife (Ryan Mitchell, The Longleaf Alliance)
  • Native Vegetation Investments Pay Conservation Dividends (Jef Hodges, National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative)
  • Forest Management for Northern Bobwhite Quail (Steve Chapman, National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative)

All five webinars can be accessed at https://bringbackbobwhites.org/category/the-bobwhite-library/webinars/. (Continuing education credits are still available for Managing Oak Forests for Bobwhite Quail.)

About NBCI

Headquartered at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture/Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is a science and habitat-based 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 to restore wild bobwhites on a landscape scale. 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 & Upland Game Alliance, Park Cities Quail and Roundstone Native Seed.

Media Contact: John Doty, jdoty3@utk.edu

NBCI Seeks New Director

Applications for the position of director of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) are now being accepted with a review of applications beginning April 17 and continuing until the position is filled, according to the University of Tennessee and the NBCI Management Board.

The NBCI director is responsible for “providing national leadership for the implementation of the 25-state initiative,” which is based in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries at the UT Institute of Agriculture in Knoxville.

“We especially seek to attract an individual with experience in administration and budget management of wildlife conservation agencies and/or conservation non-profit organizations. Experience in government conservation policy is preferred, especially at the regional or national levels,” according to the job posting.

Requirements are a Master’s Degree or equivalent of education, training and experience in wildlife conservation, wildlife management, ecology or a related field, however, a degree in business administration or management, in combination with extensive conservation knowledge, would be considered. Preferred candidates will have knowledge of conservation agency, non-profit or business administration, fundamentals of avian wildlife ecology, biology and habitats (specifically northern bobwhites), fundraising, financial management, accounting and contracting.

More details and online application may be accessed at https://tiny.utk.edu/DirectorNBCI.

About NBCI

Headquartered at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture/Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is a science and habitat-based 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 to restore wild bobwhites on a landscape scale. 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 & Upland Game Alliance, Park Cities Quail and Roundstone Native Seed.

Media Contact: John Doty, jdoty3@utk.edu

Illinois Hires New Quail Coordinator

Bob Caveny, of Carlinville, Illinois, is the Land of Lincoln’s new agriculture and grassland wildlife program manager in the state’s Department of Natural Resources. In that role he will also serve as the state’s “quail coordinator” in the state’s support of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI), a strategic, unified effort by 25 state wildlife agencies to restore wild bobwhite quail.

New Illinois state quail coordinator, Bob Caveny

Caveny joins the state’s wildlife program after serving as agricultural lands manager within the Office of Lands. Prior to that he worked as the conservation stewardship program manager in the Private Lands program, the Illinois Recreational Access Program coordinator for the Sangamon Soil and Water Conservation District, and as a regional wildlife biologist and Farm Bill biologist for Pheasants Forever in Indiana and eastern Illinois, respectively.

Caveny has a BS degree from Eastern Illinois University in Environmental Biology and a MS degree from Texas A&M University in Wildlife Biology. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting, fishing, and managing habitat.

“State quail coordinators are an integral part of implementing the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, serving as a liaison between our range-wide efforts and their respective state agency. The coordinator also keeps us aware of issues specific to the state”, said Interim NBCI Director Dr. Pat Keyser. “Illinois’ history as a tallgrass prairie state and the ongoing native grassland restoration activities in Illinois hold much promise for benefitting bobwhites and many associated grassland wildlife and pollinator species.  “We’re excited the position has been filled with an individual with a strong background in private lands management and Farm Bill programs. Public lands alone will not bridge the gap if we are to achieve landscape-scale restoration goals.”

For more information on key NBCI strategies, visit https://bit.ly/2wsT74d