Published since 1946
A louder, clearer come-back call for bobwhites
Implementation of the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) continues to accelerate on numerous fronts, reports the Wildlife Management Institute.
- The NBCI coordinator position has been extended and funded for another three years. The position started early in 2003 with combined funding from a Multi-state Conservation Grant, southeastern state assessments and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). As of May 2006, the position is funded through 2009 by increased contributions from all 16 states of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies plus a major partnership contribution by Quail Unlimited. Don McKenzie, on long-term assignment from the Wildlife Management Institute, continues as NBCI coordinator.
- A new NBCI position has been created and filled. Ray Evans, retired from the Missouri Department of Conservation, has been contracted as national advocate, with the charge from the Southeast Quail Study Group (SEQSG) to represent the NBCI and quail habitat interests at the national level, with an emphasis on the 2007 Farm Bill. Evans is a quarter-century veteran of federal farm program conservation policy.
- The NBCI revision process has been officially launched. Some 55 quail conservationists attended the first official input forum on May 31 at the Gamebird 2006 conference in Athens, Georgia. The NBCI is more than four years old, and its creators planned from the beginning to update the plan regularly to ensure its continued relevance and power to drive progress. Many lessons have been learned as conservationists across some 20 states have striven to turn the national plan into additional habitat on the ground. Tall Timbers Research Station, with Bill Palmer as coordinator, has accepted the NBCI revision as a contracted project, in collaboration with the SEQSG. The next major public input forum for the NBCI revision will be during the annual meeting of the SEQSG, August 6-9, in Auburn, Alabama.>
- The Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP) practice "CP33 Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds," has enrolled 99,324 acres in 25 states as of April 2006. This practice was launched in late 2004 on behalf of the NBCI, to establish native-vegetation field borders around cultivated cropland.
- The largest standardized monitoring effort ever attempted for bobwhites is underway on CP33 CRP contracts. Mississippi State University is coordinating the spring and fall bobwhite and songbird counts pursuant to a monitoring requirement by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Funding is provided by FSA, NRCS, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and numerous state wildlife agencies. Ten states already are conducting counts this spring and another five states are expected to begin this fall. It is anticipated that, eventually, as many as 18 states may participate in this standardized effort.