USDA's new grasslands plan will provide habitat for Bobwhite Quail in a program with targeted conservation practices that are good for farmers, the bobwhite, and natural resources.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11, 2022
Champaign, IL — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled a new plan to help guide voluntary conservation work over the next five years across 25 states, including over 7 million acres of new conservation practices on productive, working lands, and will contribute to the current Administration’s efforts to make our nation a leader on climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience. Illinois is one of those states.
The plan will accelerate voluntary conservation efforts for the Northern bobwhite quail and the grassland and savanna landscapes that the species calls home. This plan, the Northern Bobwhite, Grasslands and Savannas Framework for Conservation Action, outlines how USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will work with agricultural producers and partners like Quail Forever to increase adoption of targeted conservation practices that are good for farmers, the bobwhite, and natural resources. This framework leverages conservation efforts on working lands and supports the Administration’s America the Beautiful initiative.
“When we manage for bobwhite habitat, we can also create healthier forests and forage, which is good for livestock producers, landowners, and natural resources,” said Ivan Dozier, NRCS State Conservationist in Illinois. “This new framework builds on what we know – that America’s agricultural producers using conservation practices are helping declining species like the bobwhite while also providing food and fiber and conserving our resources for future generations. In the face of weather extremes, as well as habitat loss and fragmentation, expanding efforts to conserve landscapes and wildlife communities is more important than ever.”
“Quail Forever recognizes the need to help landowners build farming systems that match profitability with ecological performance; supporting the bottom line of farmers and ranchers while contributing to a habitat mosaic that creates positive gains for bobwhite quail and other species,” said Ron Leathers, Chief Conservation Officer for Quail Forever. “To that end, we’re proud to partner with the United States Department of Agriculture in this endeavor and look forward to assisting producers with the implementation of working lands programs that provide incredible gains for wildlife, water quality, farm profitability, climate resiliency, and soil health.”
• Reduces threats, like drought and wildfire, to grassland and savanna landscapes that northern bobwhite and other species call home.
• Establishes native warm-season grasses to reduce erosion, recharge aquifers and supplement forage during summer slump periods.
• Focuses on key conservation practices, including prescribed grazing, brush management, prescribed burning, herbaceous weed treatment, forage and biomass planting, contour buffer strips and forest stand improvement.
• Leverages support from partners like Quail Forever to help producers with planning and implementing practices.
• Monitors and measures the response of northern bobwhite and other wildlife species through the Northern Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) and Quail Forever.
• Develops landscape-wide models to track wildlife and economic outcomes by researchers at the University of Georgia and Mississippi State University.
• Develops outcomes assessments that include quantifying tons of carbon stored because of conservation efforts to mitigate harmful greenhouse gases.
How Landowners Can Get Involved
Farmers, livestock operators, and private landowners in the Midwest can work with NRCS to implement conservation practices on their working lands, including those that further this new framework. To learn more, they should contact their local USDA Service Center.