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Northern Bobwhite Conservation

Northern Bobwhite

Northern BobwhiteThe northern bobwhite, commonly referred to as bobwhite quail, is an iconic and highly valued species that was once common throughout eastern North America. With the decline of suitable habitat, populations have decreased by more than 85% since the 1960’s. Changes in agricultural practices, changes in land use, and lack of forest management have led to fragmentation of high quality habitat and loss of quality early successional habitat.

NRCS and Northern Bobwhite

The northern bobwhite quail is a state- identified target species of the Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) partnership, a collaborative approach to conserve habitat on working lands. NRCS will provide technical and financial assistance through a new WLFW project launched in fiscal year 2017.

Research has shown that closed canopy and/or unburned pine stands provide poor habitat and may also serve as ecological sinks for northern bobwhite and other grassland species. When applied appropriately, forest thinning and frequent prescribed fire mimic the ecosystem processes that once occurred naturally across landscapes to create and maintain savanna habitats. Without thinning, tree canopies close and shade out ground cover. Without frequent prescribed fire, grasses and forbs are replaced by woody plants and forest litter. Appropriately timed thinning and burns reduce hazardous fuels while improving stand quality and overall forest health.

Eligible landowners can receive help to implement a variety of conservation practices to restore northern bobwhite quail habitat.

Focal Area

Landowners in Ocean, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland and Atlantic Counties are eligible to apply. Eligibility requirements for NRCS programs set forth in the 2014 Farm Bill will apply.

Bobwhite Quail Working Lands for Wildlife Focal Area in NJActions

  • Protect, maintain, and restore habitat.
  • Work with foresters to develop Forest Stewardship Plans that address quail habitat
  • Implement Forest Stewardship Plan practices.
  • Conduct thinning, burning, and brush management to improve forest health.
  • Reduce dangerous fuel loads.

Available Practices

  • Forest Stand Improvement
  • Early Successional Habitat Development/ Management
  • Upland Wildlife Habitat Management
  • Brush Management
  • Conservation Cover
  • Firebreak
  • Fuel Break
  • Prescribed Burning
  • Tree/Shrub Site Preparation
  • Tree/Shrub Planting
  • Tree/Shrub Pruning
  • Woody Residue Treatment

Outcomes and Impacts

As more landowners use conservation practices to restore habitat for northern bobwhite in Pine Savanna habitat, forest health will improve.

Improved habitat for the northern bobwhite will also benefit turkey, pine snake, timber rattlesnake, pollinators and many species of songbirds.

How to Apply

Interested landowners with property in the focal area should contact their local NRCS Office to learn more about opportunities available through the Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) Initiative.

NRCS staff will work with the applicant to develop a conservation plan that will become the basis of a contract through the applicable 2014 Farm Bill Program. To apply or learn more, please contact your local USDA service center. In Ocean County, Burlington County, and Camden County, call NRCS at the Columbus Service Center 609-267-1639, ext. 3; in Salem County and Gloucester County, call NRCS at the Woodstown Service Center 856-769-1126; and in Atlantic and Cumberland Counties, call NRCS at the Vineland Service Center 856-205-1225,  ext. 3.

Learn more about working with NRCS by visiting

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WLFW targets restoration of pine savanna
















This page last updated March 13, 2020.