A program to restore habitat for Northern bobwhite quail is currently available to property owners throughout Ohio's 88 counties, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
The Northern Bobwhite Quail Habitat/Upland Bird Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency Conservation Reserve Program, aims to create 350,000 acres of essential upland bird habitat in 35 states nationwide. In Ohio, the goal is 22,800 acres. The program seeks to create nesting and brood-rearing cover along cropland field borders, while establishing travel corridors.
Grassland buffers along crop fields enhance the movement of existing quail coveys and are a critical component of this restoration program. The program will provide a much-needed habitat niche that is lacking in counties within the existing quail range.
Nationally, Northern bobwhite quail numbers have declined in the past 20 years, largely due to loss of early successional grassland corridors and the transitional development of once grassy fields into woods and row crops. In Ohio, the blizzards of 1977-78 decimated quail numbers, which have yet to rebound to 1977 levels (read more about the life history of bobwhite quail in Ohio).
To be eligible, the cropland to be enrolled must satisfy the basic eligibility and cropping history criteria for the Conservation Reserve Program. To determine individual eligibility for the initiative, farmers and landowners should check with their local Farm Service Agency office. The following payments are offered for eligible acres:
- One-time signing incentive payments of up to $100 per acre.
- Practice incentive payments of up to 40 percent of the eligible establishment cost. When combined with cost-share assistance of 50 percent, up to 90 percent of reimbursable practice costs are covered.
- Producers will receive annual rental payments for up to 10 years.
Sign-up at local Farm Service Agency offices. Eligible land may be enrolled at any time until the 22,800 acres approved for Ohio have been established.