Filter strip, photo courtesy USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

New Priority Area and EQIP funding announced to improve northern bobwhite quail habitat

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has designated a new priority area in Ohio focused on improving and creating northern bobwhite quail habitat. Private landowners and producers can apply for funding through the NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Interested landowners in the selected townships are encouraged to contact their local NRCS service center, ODNR private lands biologist or Pheasants Forever biologist to learn more.  

·   NRCS: Nick Schell, nick.schell@usda.gov, 614-255-2490

·   Ohio Division of Wildlife: John Kaiser john.kaiser@dnr.ohio.gov, 937-203-7511

·   Quail Forever: Cody Grasser, cgrasser@pheasantsforever.org, 419-551-3875

“Private landowner involvement is such an important part of preserving this iconic species,” said Lori Ziehr, Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service Acting State Conservationist.  “The northern bobwhite quail is an edge species, and through priority area funding, we can incentivize and promote conservation practices that generate the high-quality early successional habitat crucial to their survival.” 

Ohio is near the northern edge of the species’ range, and winter weather conditions can contribute to dramatic fluctuations in bobwhite quail populations. Mild winters often boost bobwhite quail populations in areas with suitable habitat, while harsh winters with prolonged snow and ice cover have an adverse impact.

The Ohio State University has identified edge habitat and woody escape cover, both essential during the winter months, as critical factors in quail survival. The selected townships shown on the priority area map have been identified by the Ohio Division of Wildlife as the areas of highest concern within Ohio’s bobwhite quail range.

“The Ohio Division of Wildlife is committed to restoring Ohio’s quail population through EQIP and increasing suitable habitat,” said Kendra Wecker, Ohio Division of Wildlife Chief. “We are proud to work with our partners to keep the momentum going in a positive direction for this cherished bird as well as other edge species.”

Quail Forever also supported the creation of the priority area and is prepared to lend a hand implementing the program. 

“Quail Forever strives to conserve Ohio’s quail populations through passionate work by wildlife biologists and grassroots chapter volunteers,” said Cody Grasser, Quail Forever’s Ohio State Coordinator. “Thanks to strong partnerships with NRCS and the Ohio Division of Wildlife we have team members implementing EQIP in each of the priority area townships and are excited to present landowners with this unique opportunity.”

NRCS conservation practices including hedgerow plantings, wildlife habitat plantings and early successional habitat development will receive increased ranking points within the priority area townships. Landowners who implement these practices will not only promote bobwhite quail habitat, but further enhance their property value to other species such as songbirds, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits and pollinators. 

Landowners in the selected townships interested in EQIP Quail Priority Area funding should reach out to their local Ohio USDA service center or visit the Ohio NRCS EQIP webpage for more details. Click here for a fact sheet on prioritized conservation practices and additional resources.

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