Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new national initiative to advance private land conservation for the northern bobwhite quail and grasslands across the east-central United States. The Northern Bobwhite Pilot Project (NBPP) will provide dedicated funding of $13 million for fiscal year 2024 in new assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Despite significant past investments, the northern bobwhite population has declined over the past three decades. The new project will collaborate with Quail Forever, the University of Georgia’s Gamebird and Managed Ecosystems Lab, and a large network of partners to track progress toward restoring key habitats and declining wildlife communities. The pilot program will be in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The EQIP program, administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, provides technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers. to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, and increased soil health to name just a few.

The Northern Bobwhite Pilot Project’s funds will be dedicated to helping bobtail and other game and non-game species; producers will manage their working lands for early successional habitat while meeting their land's natural resource and production goals.