New S.C. Bobwhite Initiative Quail Focal Area takes flight

quail

New Quail Focal Area is in McCormick County

Through a great partnership between the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), a new quail focal area under the banner of the South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative (SCBI) has been established. This is the 5th SCBI focal area, joining the Indian Creek (U.S. Forest Service), Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Lea (SC Forestry Commission), and Webb Center Complex (SCDNR) focal areas already up and running.

The new Bordeaux Quail Focal Area is located in McCormick County, SC and encompasses nearly 3,000 acres of USACE forestlands adjacent to the J. Strom Thurmond Lake Project. In conjunction with USACE Forestry, Fish and Wildlife staff, SCDNR Unit Biologist Cory Drennan and his staff started habitat management activities on the area several years ago, with an eye towards restoring pine savannah habitat beneficial to bobwhites as well as many associated songbird species. Results are becoming evident and designation as a SCBI Focal Area will bring added attention and expanded habitat work.

Habitat management activities include thinning of timber to open the canopy, prescribed burning in small burn units, herbicide application to control hardwood understory where needed, and establishment of brood habitat for quail in patches and fallow fields. All of these habitat restoration techniques also improve habitat for wild turkey, deer, and many species of other birds, small mammals, amphibians and reptiles, and pollinators. “Based on the vegetation response to SCDNR’s current management practices, an increased management intensity at the Bordeaux Quail Focal Area will certainly have a high probability of success,” said Jeff Brooks, District Wildlife Biologist, USACE, Savannah District.

Focal area has several goals

Goals for the Bordeaux Quail Focal Area include: (1) restore/establish a minimum of 1,500 acres of year-round bobwhite quail habitat that comprises >25% of the area within 5 years; (2) achieve a bobwhite density of a minimum of 1 bird per 3 acres within 10 years; (3) monitor quail and associated songbird population response through establishment of annual Spring breeding bird point transects and Fall bobwhite covey counts within the focal area; (4) monitor hunting pressure and disturbance on quail coveys through hunter sign-in and sign-out points across the focal area, as well as direct interaction with quail hunters as possible; and (5) enlist interested private landowners in the area to restore and manage habitat by providing technical guidance and assisting with participation in federal financial incentive programs if desired.

“We have had numerous successful partnership projects with both the Savannah and Charleston Districts of the USACE and are thrilled with the establishment of the Bordeaux Quail Focal Area”, said Robert Boyles, SCDNR Director and Chair of the South Carolina Quail Council. The SC Quail Council is a consortium of state and federal agencies, conservation groups, sportsmen and landowners coordinating the SCBI- the statewide recovery effort for bobwhite quail. The SCBI operates using the principles of the larger 25-state National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI). “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with SCDNR on this effort to restore quality habitat beneficial to quail and so many other species”, said Mike Montone, Chief, Operations Division, of the Savannah District.

Quail restoration efforts continue to grow in S.C.

“The cornerstone of the NBCI is landscape-level habitat restoration and this is yet another example of focused effort in our state under the SCBI”, said Emily Cope, SCDNR Deputy Director of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. “It is gratifying to see our state quail restoration efforts growing, especially considering the NBCI had its start here in SC back in 1995 with the first meeting of the Southeast Quail Study Group, held at the Webb Wildlife Center”, added Billy Dukes, SCDNR Chief of Wildlife.

For more information on the Bordeaux Quail Focal Area or the SCBI contact the SCDNR Small Game Program at 803-734-3940 or email scbobwhites@dnr.sc.gov. Visit the SCBI website.

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