Training for participants in a program the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) believes can be instrumental in landscape scale restoration of wild bobwhites kicked off recently with an initial session in Orangeburg, SC. Roll-out to each of the participating states will continue this year and next.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s new Bobwhites in Pine Savanna program, approved at the urging of NBCI and Georgia Department of Natural Resources in late 2016, will deliver technical and financial assistance to landowners interested in restoring pine savanna habitat using native grasses, timber thinning and prescribed fire on 82,000 acres across seven states. The program is part of NRCS’s Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) efforts and is funded under the federal Farm Bill.
The in-service technical training sessions are aimed at the technical assistance providers who will work with private landowners in each state. The training provides the tools needed to manage pine forests for the diverse understory vegetation bobwhites and other species need, along with information on utilizing funding sources through the WLFW program. Orangeburg trainees included staff from the NRCS, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Clemson University Extension and the Longleaf Alliance. Workshop trainees will typically include personnel from NRCS, Farm Services Agency, state wildlife agencies, university extension programs, private conservation organizations, private consulting foresters and biologists, and private landowners.
NBCI, in collaboration with the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources/University of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, will conduct at least one of these workshops in each of the seven states identified in the project geography. In addition to South Carolina those states include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia. Trainers will also produce educational materials detailing management techniques and results from intentional, targeted pine savanna management for bobwhites.
“Working lands are critical for the restoration of wild bobwhite populations at a landscape scale,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “This is a sizeable enough project that it will show the dividends of including working lands in restoration activities in ways that also assist in meeting landowner objectives.”