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03
Bobwhite Buffers Initiative Aims To Restore 2,100 Acres Of Quail Habitat

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ANNAPOLIS — Department of Natural Resource’s (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service (WHS) today announced the details of a new conservation initiative administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Farm Services Agency with technical support from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and DNR to assist farmers and landowners managing their lands for upland bird habitat.

The practice, called Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds or simply Bobwhite Buffers, is part of the popular USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The program differs from the conventional CREP program as it specifically targets upland birds such as bobwhite quail.

“The bobwhite quail is a treasured part of Maryland’s farmed landscape that is quickly disappearing,” said WHS Director Paul A. Peditto. “This initiative has the potential to restore thousands of acres of much-needed habitat and reverse the population declines.”

Enrollment in the Bobwhite Buffers program is completely voluntary and simply requires the establishment of 35-120 foot buffers of planted or native vegetation around the perimeter of enrolled crop fields. In turn, the landowner or farmer receives annual rental payments for the life of the 10-year contract as well as the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping to restore vital wildlife habitat.

“Research has shown that the edges of crop fields typically are the least productive part of the fields”, Peditto noted. “This program is a win-win situation; farmers receive supplemental income on their marginal lands and quail habitat is created.”

Because the Bobwhite Buffers enrollment is capped at 2,100 acres in Maryland, the practice will be focused in areas with the greatest potential to provide for quail habitat needs. It will be limited Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset, Worcester, Charles, St. Mary’s, and Calvert Counties.

Quail populations have declined more than 90% in the past 30 years in Maryland.

“Although a multitude of factors have contributed to the steep declines”, said Bob Long, DNR’s Upland Game Bird Biologist, “habitat loss continues to be the number one threat to our wild quail.”

Quail thrive in brushy, weedy fields and hedgerows that were common in the middle of the last century, but development, changes in farming practices, and the maturing of our forests have virtually eliminated the type of habitat quail need.

“Bobwhite Buffers, coupled with a variety of other cost-share programs, now gives landowners all the tools they need to make quail conservation a reality,” Long added.

For more information on the Bobwhite Buffers initiative, contact DNR’s Upland Game Bird Program at 410-221-8838, ext. 106 or blong@dnr.state.md.us.


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March 3, 2005
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov

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