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Quail’s-Eye View of Conservation

Close-up of a quail's head








They wouldn’t call it ‘the minimum’ if it wasn’t good enough. A friend (who will go unnamed), characterizing his teenage son’s philosophy of life.

Strive for excellence, so you don’t get lost in the mass of mediocrity. Jerry Countryman, Decatur High School Band Director (1960-1983), Decatur, Alabama


What is “conservation?”  As a wildlife management undergraduate, I learned it meant “the wise use of natural resources.”  Sounded straight-forward enough at the time.  When applying the concept in the politically charged national conservation policy arena, however, the simplicity can be lost.

Conservation, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, depending upon the resources and people in question.  My vision of conservation includes wise management of lands to accommodate suitable wildlife habitats to the maximum extent feasible.  Other conservationists see the world differently. 

For example, I discovered early in my career that many southern foresters traditionally consider good silvicultural practices, such as plantation pines, to be automatically good wildlife practices, regardless of planting density, basal area or burning frequency.  Likewise, agronomists long have asserted that good soil conservation automatically is good wildlife conservation.  I respectfully disagree.


Don McKenzie

Former NBCI Director, Don McKenzie is a product of the deep South, steeped in its cultures of hunting, fried catfish, barbeque and SEC football. He survived an abrupt transition from hip boots in South Carolina to dark suits in Washington, DC as a professional wildlife advocate specializing in agriculture conservation policy.

During 6 ½ years in DC, he engaged the community of southeastern bobwhite quail biologists, and soon became their most active representative on federal conservation policy issues. McKenzie eventually arose as a national leader for what now is recognized as arguably the largest and most difficult wildlife conservation challenge of this era—restoring huntable and sustainable populations of wild bobwhites across much of their range. He was a facilitator and editor of the original “Northern (now “National”) Bobwhite Conservation Initiative,” published in 2002, and has been the national leader for implementing the initiative since 2004.