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April 6, 2009

Southeast Quail Study Group becomes National Bobwhite Technical Committee

The Southeast Quail Study Group held its 15th annual meeting March 24-26 in Columbia as a joint meeting with Southeast Partners in Flight. More than 165 participants representing state and wildlife agencies, private conservation organizations and other partners participated in this landmark meeting for bobwhite quail and grassland bird conservation.

On March 26, at the business meeting of the Southeast Quail Study Group, the membership voted to change the name of the group to the National Bobwhite Technical Committee.

"This name change, and the associated expansion of group membership, is a positive change resulting from the expanded interest in bobwhite conservation across the range of the species," said Billy Dukes, chairman of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee and wildlife biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. "Much of this renewed interest has been generated by the past success of the Southeast Quail Study Group and the implementation of the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative."

The Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, originally drafted in 2002, is a comprehensive plan for the recovery and restoration of bobwhites. Originally covering portions of 22 states in the Southeast, the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative is currently being revised to include all states within the range of northern bobwhites.

The Southeast Quail Study Group was formed in 1995, with the first meeting held at the James W. Webb Wildlife Management Area in Hampton County. Since that time, the Southeast Quail Study Group has become a nationally recognized force in the conservation and restoration of bobwhite quail habitat. Working with partners like Southeast Partners in Flight, the Southeast Quail Study Group has helped to establish beneficial practices in U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs like the Conservation Reserve Program. Practice CP33, Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds, was originally presented as a joint initiative of Southeast Quail Study Group and Southeast Partners in Flight, and has resulted in the establishment of more than 210,000 acres of high-quality quail and grassland bird habitat in working agricultural landscapes. Other practices established through joint initiatives of the two groups have resulted in restoration of longleaf pine habitat and enhancement of upland pine habitat for quail and grassland birds.

The National Bobwhite Technical Committee will meet annually in late summer, with the next meeting tentatively scheduled for August 2010. Similar to the Southeast Quail Study Group, the National Bobwhite Technical Committee will maintain a focused, problem-solving approach to bobwhite conservation, with efforts directed toward improving agricultural conservation policy for the benefit of bobwhites and grassland birds, as well as seeking landscape-level opportunities for strategic bobwhite habitat conservation and delivery.

For more information on the National Bobwhite Technical Committee or the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, contact Billy Dukes at (803) 734-3939 or e-mail him at DukesB@dnr.sc.gov.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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