Bringing Back the Memories
FY2006 and used the MDC250 practice to open up some of his old fields that had become dense in woody cover, especially red cedar. He then converted several acres of his fescue to native grass and forb mixes with MDC400 and 450. These fields have since been prescribe-burned a couple times and are developing quite nicely. In 2009, he was a successful applicant in the EQIP sign-up. Through EQIP he was able to install a well, pipeline and tanks, and fencing to develop a planned grazing system. Korean Lespedeza was no-till drilled into mixed cool-season grass pastures and hay fields. Better grazing management is now possible with a mixture of mixed cool season grass/legume pastures and native grass/forb plantings. Before all the grazing lands were grazed continuously and as one big pasture unit. Now these fields are divided into eight units with six of those seeing a grazing rotation while the other two (one warm-season unit and one cool-season) are being hayed. About 19 acres of open woodlands considered Upland Flatwoods have been treated with a combination forest grinder and heavy fuel wood cutting. The grinder was able to clean up a great deal of the slash and storm debris from storm damage. This activity coupled with fuel wood cutting has opened up the canopy significantly and the restoration of these acres is well underway. He hopes to get some fire through these in the coming year.
Deer and turkey are also numerous on the property, and with the woodland work, edge feathering, introduction of legumes, additional food plots and green browse plot establishment we have seen a positive response from them as well. Mark is fortunate, too, in that he has neighbors on three sides who are interested in managing their lands in a way that contribute to the overall wildlife habitat on the local landscape.
During 2010 we worked with the Monett High School FFA chapter, and they applied for and were awarded a Sportsmen League Grant to use in some bobwhite quail field day activities on the Costley farm, which is just a couple miles up the road from the high school. A series of classroom activities along with field events on the farm brought a greater understanding of the plight of the bobwhite to these students. The activities included an introduction to telemetry and discussing the data potential for the quail researcher in the use of this equipment. Students used the Quail WHAG to assess the farm habitat and make recommendations as to what the practices were doing to improve conditions and what else might be prescribed for future management. Some of those decisions were used to establish some annual food plots along with a perennial native forb plots for food and brood cover.
Bringing Back the Bob!
The results of this effort have shown a marked increase in bird numbers with the best year since initiation of habitat work boasting five coveys on his 180-acre farm. Weather has prevented this from happening since, but three coveys have been the average since 2006.
Mark also has a passion for the bluebirds and maintains 10 to 12 bluebird houses on the property. In his best year Mark says he fledged as many as 70 youngsters and is very proud of his accomplishment with this project. Mark likes to build things and has also used the MDC plans to build and install a double-sided bat house. He’s not sure at this point whether anything has taken up residence there yet, but he is hopeful.
With landowners like Mark in Southwest Missouri, bobwhites certainly have a better chance of making a comeback, and a whole suite of wildlife species are reaping the benefit.