NB_300_21_14 - NB 300-21-14 LTP - New enhancements to Working Lands for Wildlife - Northern bobwhite initiative: opportunities to strengthen the role of NRCS in grassland and savanna conservation
NB 300-21-14 LTP - New enhancements to Working Lands for Wildlife - Northern bobwhite initiative: opportunities to strengthen the role of NRCS in grassland and savanna conservation
National Bulletin: 300-21-14 Date: February 3, 2021
Subject: LTP - New enhancements to Working Lands for Wildlife - Northern bobwhite initiative: opportunities to strengthen the role of NRCS in grassland and savanna conservation


Action Required By:   February 12, 2021
 

Purpose.   To provide guidance to State Conservationists (STCs) regarding next steps and required actions for enhancing Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) for Northern bobwhite (bobwhite) quail.

This bulletin applies to 29 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

 
Expiration Date.   September 30, 2021
 

Background.   WLFW is a win-win approach NRCS uses to target conservation efforts that both improve agricultural and forest productivity and enhance wildlife habitat on working landscapes. Because WLFW is producer focused, participants reap both conservation and economic benefits from most WLFW conservation practices. The success of WLFW depends on delivery of conservation based on the best available science to target assistance and measure outcomes.

NRCS has had two basic approaches for delivering WLFW: national and state. The original iteration of WLFW was developed around target species identified at the national level. For these, special allocations of financial assistance funding are provided to STCs for implementation. The state WLFW approach relies on STCs to identify target species or landscapes and allocate funding from their general financial assistance allocations. In both national and state WLFW initiatives, STCs make critical programmatic decisions including inviting and interacting with partners, identifying priority areas for delivery, setting statewide goals, requesting and allocating financial assistance funds, providing technical assistance, reporting outputs, and coordinating delivery across state boundaries where appropriate. The WLFW team provides coordination and technical support for state activities and at a national level.

NRCS has been a strong partner and critical contributor to on-the-ground conservation for bobwhite for decades. State WLFW efforts are in place for bobwhite, with a focus on grasslands and pine/mixed oak savannas. To date, a combined 18 STCs have opted to participate in these WLFW efforts.

A diverse group of stakeholders led by Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever has proposed strengthening WFLW Northern bobwhite. NRCS leadership has committed to improving the agency’s bobwhite efforts by leveraging local leadership from STCs, State Technical Committees, and local workgroups across the bobwhite range through additional national support of the state WLFW model.

In addition, the agency has newly committed to the following enhancements to bolster NRCS’ support for bobwhite conservation nationally.

• Commence development of a national bobwhite framework for conservation action with annual goals and reporting from NHQ to reduce state workload and improve partnership information exchange.
• Take an “all programs” approach to provide expanded opportunity for habitat improvements (e.g. EQIP, CSP, ACEP, CRP, etc.).
• Improve information sharing and coordinated delivery.
• Instruct staff and partners doing conservation planning to immediately commence “tagging” all projects benefiting northern bobwhite in Conservation Desktop by selecting the “bobwhite” feature from the drop-down menu for state WLFW initiatives.

The agency will take the following actions during fiscal year 2021 to launch these enhancements.

• In February the WLFW team will coordinate a working meeting of NRCS staff from states where the STC has opted into participation in this effort (see Explanation below).
• In March and April NRCS state staff will work with partners, with support from the WLFW team, to develop input for range-wide conservation needs and goals.
• By May the WLFW team will consolidate state input into a national framework for conservation action for bobwhite.

 

Explanation.   In order to execute the commitments of NRCS leadership above, WLFW staff will provide coordination support to the states for several meetings and exercises in FY21. STCs in the 29 states where bobwhite have been identified as a priority through participation in the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) or in State Wildlife Action Plans will:

1. Indicate if they will participate in further nationally coordinated efforts for bobwhite; and
2. Identify an NRCS point of contact from their state for further activities.

To provide this information, please reference the table provided by clicking on this link. https://1drv.ms/x/s!AvGH1QMJBuyLg2XeMMrnlmYzKfVo?e=cQ0xZH

You will be asked to enter contact information for your state’s representatives plus indicate an intention to voluntarily opt in or opt out of WLFW Northern bobwhite (see INSTRUCTIONS in table) by February 12, 2021.

 
Contact.   If you have any questions, please contact Bridgett Costanzo, WLFW Coordinator, at (757) 817-5803, or Martin Lowenfish, Areawide Planning Branch Chief, at (202) 690-4979.
 
 

 /s/

 JIMMY BRAMBLETT
Deputy Chief for Programs
 
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