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Bobwhite Quail Southern Pine Savanna Restoration Project

Bobwhite Quail HeaderGeorgia’s iconic and highly valued Bobwhite Quail populations have declined by more than 85 percent since the 1960’s. The southeastern United States used to be considered premiere quail hunting habitat and quail were common. This drastic decline is due primarily to the loss of quality early successional habitat (i.e. native grasses, legumes, weeds, briars, bugs and shrubs). Changes in agricultural practices, lack of management, and other land-use change, have led to dramatic fragmentation of high quality habitats.

Research shows that closed canopy or unburned pine stands provide poor quality habitat for bobwhites, and other grassland species, and may also serve as ecological sinks (i.e. high predation rates) thereby reducing bobwhite survival, even on adjacent high quality habitats. When appropriately applied, 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 and potential economic loss while improving stand quality and overall forest health.

Increasing quail populations improves water quality, reduces soil erosion and can economically enhance local communities by stimulating quail hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities, which is very important to the economy of the southeast. The demand for wild quail populations for hunting far exceeds the opportunity. In fact, expensive, pen released birds are often used in surrogate. As a result hunting culture has declined, as have benefits to local economies. Georgia’s Bobwhite Quail Initiative has shown financial incentives coupled with professional technical assistance are key to restoring pine savanna habitats and associated wildlife species at the landscape scale.

Bobwhite in the woods Landowners can sign-up for funding and technical assistance for enhancing habitat for bobwhite quail and other priority wildlife species dependent on early successional habitat. This project is funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The following counties are priority counties:

Appling, Bacon, Baker, Ben Hill, Bibb, Bleckley, Brooks, Bulloch, Burke, Calhoun, Candler, Chattahoochee, Clay, Coffee, Colquitt, Crawford, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Glascock, Grady, Houston, Irwin, Jeff Davis, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, Laurens, Lee, Macon, Marion, Miller, Mitchell, Montgomery, Muscogee, Peach, Pulaski, Randolph, Richmond, Schley, Screven, Seminole, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Tattnall, Taylor, Telfair, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Toombs, Treutlen, Turner, Twiggs, Washington, Webster, Wheeler, Wilcox, Wilkinson and Worth.

Additional species that will benefit:

In addition to quail, restoring this habitat type across the Pine Savanna landscape benefits numerous songbirds, rabbits, wild turkey, deer, and many other wildlife species improves water quality, reduces soil erosion, and can enhance local economies by stimulating quail hunting and wildlife viewing. Practices will be directed at establishing and maintaining habitat for several at-risk species as well. In the Eastern United States these include:  pollinators, gopher tortoise, Henslow’s sparrow, Bachmann’s sparrow, Prairie Warbler, Pine Snake, Speckled Kingsnake, Pocket Gopher, Indigo Snake, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake and Bog Turtle.

NRCS Core Conservation Practices for Bobwhite-Quail Southern Pine Savanna.

NRCS recommends various conservation practices to meet different resource needs. Each program uses several of these practices as a foundation - its Core Practices.

Landowners may also apply for financial and technical assistance to install Supporting Practices to support the Core Practices.

Core Practice

For the wildlife funding pool, all practices must be scheduled and planned with wildlife as the primary resource concerns.

The following list of core and supporting practices are allowable for this specific land use.  All other practices are available for other land uses within this application contract, as appropriate.

A minimum of one core practice is required for each application.

Bobwhite-Quail Core Conservation Practices

Practice Name



Prescribed Burning



Early Successional Habitat Development/ Management



Forest Stand Improvement 3



Restoration and Mgt. of Rare and Declining Habitats



Upland Wildlife Habitat Management












Supporting Practices

Bobwhite-Quail Supporting Conservation Practices

Practice Name



Bush Management 7



Conservation Cover 3



Contour Buffer Strip



Field Border 3



Filter Strip






Hedgerow Planting 3



Herbaceous Weed Control 6



Tree/Shrub Pruning



Prescribed Grazing
















Ready to get started?

If you’re interested in technical and financial assistance from NRCS, please contact your local USDA service center. An NRCS conservationist in your community will help you develop a conservation plan customized to your land, and if you’re interested, apply for financial assistance through Farm Bill conservation programs. Learn more about getting started with NRCS.


Georgia Department of Natural Resources WRD
National Release
National Bobwhite Quail Southern Pine Savanna Restoration Project webpage.

For more information contact our State Forester