States Open New Fronts in Bobwhite Restoration

States Open New Fronts in Bobwhite Restoration

Progress for implementing the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) continues to build as more states put major quail-restoration campaigns in gear, reports the Wildlife Management Institute.

In May, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) launched a rejuvenated bobwhite initiative for the state, with the creation and inauguration of the interagency Virginia Quail Council, paired with a draft "Northern Bobwhite Quail Action Plan for Virginia." This effort is the second-generation quail initiative in Virginia. The trendsetting "Virginia Quail Plan" of the 1990s raised the bar for contemporary state initiatives, pioneered large-scale, native, warm-season grass restoration, and planted the seeds for the NBCI. VDGIF expects to finalize the action plan this summer, complete with a memorandum of agreement signed by numerous quail-conservation partners.

In Kentucky, the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) published in April its Road to Recovery: The Blueprint for Restoring the Northern Bobwhite in Kentucky. This 10-year step-down of the NBCI includes a statewide array of priority counties as well as private- and public-land focus areas. Its aims are to concentrate resources and demonstrate successes in the short term. The KDFWR, already fielding one of the nation's largest networks of private land biologists, also strives to document and highlight successes by instituting a standardized monitoring protocol to evaluate progress on all its focal areas. The blueprint already has been endorsed by 33 conservation partners. ?

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fish and Parks (MDWFP) is taking a comprehensive approach to bobwhite restoration, beginning with prioritization of agency resources to new staff and habitat initiatives. A new statewide quail program coordinator position, combined with MDWFP's first-ever private lands habitat biologists (three now, with more to come soon), give the agency unprecedented capacity. An NBCI step-down plan is nearly finished, complete with priority regions and focal counties with highest likelihood of success, such as in the Black Belt. In those counties, MDWFP staff and partners are conducting promotional quail workshops for landowners. The agency also is making a concentrated effort to demonstrate habitat restoration techniques across two entire public areas, Hell Creek and Hamer wildlife management areas. ?

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is taking the bold step of reallocating staff resources to address bobwhite and other conservation priorities more effectively. The LDWF has shepherded for two years an active interagency Quail and Grassland Bird Task Force that is fostering collaborative grassland-restoration projects, obtaining native-grass seed drills, pursuing increased prescribed fire capacity and completing an NBCI step-down plan. To reinforce and accelerate this progress, LDWF's Wildlife Division has created a new Landowners for Wildlife Program that commits a majority of the biological staff to spend most of its time on private land management, the largest arena for NBCI implementation in the Louisiana. ?

For more information on NBCI implementation progress in states across the Southeast, contact WMI's Don McKenzie, NBCI Coordinator, at (501) 941-7994. (dfm)

June 17, 2008