The U.S. Forest Service’s Southern Region has joined with the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) in efforts to restore wild bobwhite quail at the landscape level. The new memorandum of understanding formalizes existing efforts on five national forests in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Mississippi.
“The Forest Service is already working with us — and five state agencies — to create bobwhite focal areas,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “Every project on behalf of bobwhites on national forests creates another source population for adjacent lands and allows the public and landowners to observe bobwhites and see what it takes to return them to America’s landscape.”
The new agreement also provides a path for additional efforts at other national forests in the region, as well as on private lands whose owners are engaged with the federal agency in management activities. In conjunction with the respective states, NBCI will serve as a consultant on grasslands habitat design and development, and assessment of project progress.
“The Southern Region is proud to partner with the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative to enhance and restore the habitat used by bobwhite quail and other grassland species,” said Micah Thorning, the Forest Service’s regional wildlife program manager. “We are enthusiastic about the future of establishing bobwhite focal areas across the Southern Region and the benefits they will provide for our visiting public.”
“The addition of national forests in the South is a significant step in the 25-state goal of landscape-scale restoration of wild bobwhites,” said NBCI Management Board Chair and Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources Director Gregory Johnson. “It also illustrates how seeking partners at regional and national levels can move us closer to our goal, while having positive impacts on a range of wildlife species.”
About the Forest Service
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations. National forests and grasslands contribute more than $30 billion to the American economy annually and support nearly 360,000 jobs. These lands also provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities; approximately 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System.
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. 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.