As FWC Commissioners, we are happy to announce a four-way partnership formed across state lines with conservation organizations in an effort to help the northern bobwhite (quail) and its habitat in Florida and Georgia.
The four partners are the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the Georgia Department of Natural Resources–Wildlife Resources Division (GADNR), Quail Forever and Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy.
All four organizations have signed a memorandum of agreement pledging that they will each provide mutually beneficial support to a project called the Florida/Georgia Quail Coalition, whose goal is to enhance, promote and conserve quality habitat for northern bobwhite and to promote and support youth shooting sports programs and education.
The term of the agreement is for three years, and the four organizations each will appoint one authorized representative to serve on the Coalition’s steering committee. Quail Forever will provide a shared fulltime position employee and one part-time staff member.
It is also charged with providing funding to establish, manage and monitor quail populations and habitat on public and private lands in Florida and Georgia, and to work with the Coalition to increase youth hunting opportunities on some of these lands once adequate bird populations and habitat have been restored.
Also, Quail Forever is to provide funding from its local chapters to help pay the cost of youth shooting-sports programs and scholastic shooting teams. The responsibility of Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy is to serve as the fiscal agent to receive and disburse money provided by local Quail Forever chapters to pay for approved Coalition quail habitat projects.
The Coalition enhances efforts of the Upland Ecosystem Restoration Project, which is housed at Tall Timbers. For more information on the Upland Ecosystem Restoration Project, visit TallTimbers.org/gb-UERP.html. Tall Timbers also agrees to house both Coalition employees by providing them office space and administrative support at its facility, north of Tallahassee. Both states’ wildlife and conservation agencies have similar duties and responsibilities as outlined in the agreement.
The FWC and GADNR are charged with providing leadership for youth shooting sports and quail habitat projects, and for the planning, implementation, monitoring and auditing of such projects and events.
To increase and enhance quality quail habitat—consisting of grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees—there will be frequent small-scale prescribed burns, oak tree removal, roller-chopping of dense palmettos and hardwood thickets and thinning of rows of planted pine trees.
The result of such management practices will create a forest and canopy that is more open, allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor, so that native grasses and weeds can grow, providing quail food and cover from predators.
We are confident that we have the ability and commitment to make some positive changes to help quail restoration in Florida and Georgia.