A unique new partnership between the National Park Service (NPS), the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (AG&FC) and the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is providing a new dimension to national efforts to restore declining wild bobwhite quail populations on a landscape scale.
Working cooperatively, the three organizations will establish the nation’s first NBCI Bobwhite Focal Area ever located on National Park Service land, the 4,300-acre Pea Ridge National Military Park (Pea Ridge) in northwestern Arkansas, near the Missouri border.
NBCI is a national effort by 25 state wildlife agencies, including Arkansas, to restore bobwhite quail whose populations—and those of
other grasslands wildlife species—have plummeted over the past decades because of habitat decline. NBCI is working to establish large-scale “focal areas” where habitat—and the birds—can be restored to demonstrate that recovery of bobwhites and other grassland songbirds and wildlife is possible given proper habitat management at the proper scale. The plan is to establish a large healthy resident population of bobwhites that can be a source population that will expand to neighboring properties if the habitat is there. The three partners will also work cooperatively on the development of interpretive and educational materials. Pea Ridge will serve as a location for public education and outreach.
“This partnership is an excellent opportunity for Pea Ridge to benefit from the expertise and knowledge of both of these outstanding organizations. It will promote large landscape conservation, and will support, protect, and provide for the restoration and preservation of our cultural landscape. As we approach our National Park Service Centennial, this is an excellent time to work with our partners on restoring the bobwhite habitat.” said Superintendent Kevin Eads.
“The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is delighted to share in this opportunity to restore and enhance habitat that is beneficial to bobwhite quail, as well as other grassland species,” said Steven Fowler, assistant chief of the AGFC’s wildlife management division. “Pea Ridge presents a very visible, high-profile location whereby visitors can learn about history and also observe quail and other wildlife thriving as a result of proper and focused wildlife management practices.”
“Rural agricultural settings in this era were bobwhite habitat,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “The park has already recorded some bobwhite response from its vegetation management work and has chosen the bobwhite as an ‘indicator’ species to help measure their success. That the NPS is willing to work with us to achieve mutual goals is a huge step for the restoration of wild bobwhite populations along with other grassland songbirds and wildlife species in Arkansas … and possibly other states in the future,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “It’s also an unparalleled opportunity to reach the public with the story about what has happened to not only bobwhites but also other grasslands wildlife species in this country … and why. We hope this is just a first step in working with the National Park Service wherever we have mutual objectives,” McKenzie said.
About Pea Ridge National Military Park
Pea Ridge National Military Park is a 4,300-acre Civil War Battlefield that preserves the site of the March 1862 battle that saved Missouri for the Union. On March 7 and 8, nearly 26,000 soldiers fought to determine whether Missouri would remain under Union control, and whether or not Federal armies could continue their offensive south through the Mississippi River Valley. Major General Earl Van Dorn led 16,000 Confederates against 10,250 Union soldiers, under the command of Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis. Van Dorn’s command consisted of regular Confederate troops commanded by Brigadier General Benjamin McCulloch, and Missouri State Guard Forces commanded by Major General Sterling Price. The Confederate force also included some 800 Cherokees fighting for the Confederacy. The Union army consisted of soldiers from Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio. Half of the Federals were German immigrants. The park also includes a two and one-half mile segment of the Trail of Tears. The Elkhorn Tavern, site of bitter fighting on both days, is a National Park Service reconstruction on the site of the original. The park is one of the most well preserved battlefields in the United States. More information can be found on the web at http://www.nps.gov/peri or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pea-Ridge-National-Military-Park/221857251198706.
About Arkansas Game & Fish Commission
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission manages wildlife and natural habitat, and sets hunting, fishing and trapping regulations. It works with local, state and federal groups to enhance conservation efforts, and educates the public about the importance of healthy wildlife populations and their habitats. For more information visit www.agfc.com.
Headquartered at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture/Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is an initiative of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a range-wide leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of state wildlife agencies, academic research institutions and private conservation organizations. Financial support for NBCI is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, state wildlife agencies, the University of Tennessee and Park Cities Quail. For more information, please visit www.bringbackbobwhites.org, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bringbackbobwhites, on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/BringBackBobwhites and on Slideshare at http://www.slideshare.net/bringbackbobwhites.
Don McKenzie, NBCI Director, (501) 941-7994
Kevin Eads, Acting Superintendent, Pea Ridge, (479) 451-8122
Clifton Jackson, Quail/Small Game Coordinator, Arkansas Game & Fish, (501) 223-6471