Georgia's Bobwhite Quail Initiative: Accomplishments 2000-2009, Lessons Learned, and Future Restoration Strategy

Georgia's Bobwhite Quail Initiative (BQI) has been a proactive effort to restore, improve and maintain habitat for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus; hereafter bobwhite) on private lands across 15 counties of Georgia's Upper Coastal Plain. Secondary objectives included improving habitat for certain songbirds and improved bobwhite hunting and wildlife viewing. Funding was provided through state appropriations, the sale of BQI vehicle license plates (tags) and matching grants. Landowners received over US$1.7 million of financial incentives, and technical assistance was provided to 1646 landowners on 264,395 ha. Incentive cost was $78.90/ha directly managed and $31.88/ha impacted. Research, monitoring, and incidental observations showed positive response of bobwhites and songbirds to BQI practices at the farm scale. The BQI generated many additional benefits including leveraged funding for management and research, youth quota quail hunts, and increased educational outreach regarding the bobwhite decline and effective restoration techniques. Georgia's future bobwhite restoration strategy is being guided by the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative revision process. Through this process BQI biologists are working with conservation partners to identify and prioritize spatially explicit landscapes over which to set quantitative bobwhite habitat and population objectives, focus management programs, funding, manpower, and monitoring.

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