SANDY, Utah -- The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) and the USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) finalized an agreement today that paves the way for a closer working relationship on behalf of bobwhite and grassland songbird restoration. The action came at a meeting of the NBCI Management Board during the annual conference of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies at Snowbird Resort here.
NBCI is the coordinated effort by 25 state wildlife management agencies and a number of conservation groups and research institutions to restore bobwhite populations on a landscape scale, while FSA administers the largest private lands conservation program in the nation, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
"NBCI will never achieve our vision of landscape-scale restoration of wild bobwhites without inclusion of private 'working' lands," said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. "FSA administers the largest private lands conservation effort in the country, so having a mechanism that recognizes each other's strengths and finds ways to pair those strengths to benefit bobwhites … as well as grassland songbirds and pollinators … can be a significant advance for all those species."
The new agreement establishes a formal mechanism by which the two entities can cooperate and broadly outlines potential endeavors, including the identification and development of cooperative projects, providing biological technical assistance as needed, assisting FSA in delivering CRP when involving native grass restoration, helping evaluate potential success of CRP initiatives that may involve native grass restoration, promoting CRP and other FSA conservation programs and initiatives and associated practices targeting native grass restoration. (The full agreement is available at https://bringbackbobwhites.org/download/nbciusda-fsa-mou-2017/
Headquartered at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture's Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is an 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 and Upland Game Alliance, Park Cities Quail and Roundstone Native Seed.