The National Wild Turkey Federation joined with 14 other conservation organizations of the Georgia Bobwhite Technical Team, by recently signing a Memorandum of Agreement committing to the recovery of bobwhite quail and other early successional habitat dependent species, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division. More than four million acres of habitat must be enhanced across Georgia’s landscape to achieve Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) recovery goals.
“I commend NWTF along with the other conservation partners that signed this Memorandum of Agreement to formalize collaborative efforts and send a message that Georgia is working to address the ecological and economical problems associated with loss of early successional habitat,” says Division Director Dan Forster.”
In recent decades, the Northern Bobwhite, Georgia’s state gamebird, has experienced drastic population declines primarily because of land use changes resulting in a loss or degradation of early succession habitat, important not only for quail, but also woodcock, rabbits, wild turkeys, certain songbirds and many other wildlife species. This decline has resulted in a reduction of quail hunters and wildlife associated recreation opportunities for Georgia’s citizens and in the loss of millions of dollars of economic revenue in rural Georgia communities. Similar declines are occurring across the South and are a priority concern for all southeastern state wildlife agencies.
In March 2002, the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Southeast Quail Study Group published the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, a 22-state recovery plan that establishes habitat and population goals by state and physiographic province for the restoration of bobwhite quail to their 1980 population level. The NBCI is currently being revised and expanded to 35 states to further refine bobwhite habitat and population recovery goals. The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division is in the process of developing a Georgia NBCI implementation plan to target specific landscapes for habitat restoration to benefit bobwhites and other grassland dependent wildlife. The plan is scheduled for completion this fall.
All of the Georgia NBCI participating organizations are committed to the recovery of bobwhite quail and other early succession species. Participants include: the U. S. Forest Service, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, the Georgia State Council of Quail Unlimited, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army, Fort Stewart and Ft. Benning, the Farm Service Agency, the D.B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, the Tall Timbers Research Station Albany Quail Project, Quail Forever, the Georgia Forestry Commission, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Georgia Association of Conservation District Supervisors and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
For more information on the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative call Reggie Thackston WRD Private Lands Program Manager at 478-994-7583 or go to www.bobwhitetech.org. For information on GACDS programs, please contact Crista Carrell at 706-542-3065 or go to www.gacds.org.