"The reason I manage for quail is to reap the reward of more wildlife." - Landowner quote.
That's a quote I heard from a landowner several years ago. I thought it was rather fitting for another Missouri success story.
For some time we've been hearing from landowners and conservation partners about Cass County. Since 2000 USDA, SWCD, MDC and QU staff have been working together to promote quail habitat management in Cass County. Keys to Cass County's success have been very active landowners and dedicated conservation groups that are willing to go the extra mile to promote quail habitat. Their hard work has paid off with more quail and more wildlife!
Since 2002, landowners in Cass County have created 15,324.2 acres of quail-friendly habitat by establishing miles of CRP field borders and filter strips, converting undesirable grass fields to native warm-season grass and wildflowers, restoring degraded prairie and creating miles of low-growing woody cover with edge feathering and shrub plantings. Today, these areas provide much needed nesting, brooding and escape cover for bobwhites. The amount of landscape now established to quail-friendly practices in Cass County is estimated to be about 10 percent of the landscape. A good portion of the habitat work was completed in the Cass County Quail Focus Area, a private land focus area where MDC, conservation partners and landowners are working hard to restore good quail habitat. Tom Lampe, a very active member of Quail Unlimited and a landowner in Cass County, has a lot to say about creating good quail habitat.
Over the past six years Tom has turned his farm into a quail heaven. Tom's testimony is living proof that Habitat is the Key: “In the 1980s my farm harbored 10 coveys, but then over the years of stagnant habitat management it declined to just two. Now since I have begun to work on intensive habitat management and disturbance I have noticed eight coveys again this fall.”
Like the rest of Missouri, Tom's farm was stagnant. It needed a change. From a quail's point of view, most of Missouri's landscape is stagnant and needs to change. This means disturbing overgrown fields to create brooding cover, planting native grasses where there is no nesting cover and edge feathering old fence rows and woody draws where there is no shrubby cover. Quail must have brooding, nesting and shrubby cover to have a chance. Landowners in Cass County are giving quail a chance.
Like most of Missouri, quail in Cass County were not immune to the harsh winter storms and severe flooding the past two years. Fortunately, quail have held their own in Cass County and other places with suitable habitat. Hopefully landowners in Cass County and the rest of Missouri will get a break from the weather in 2009 so they can reap the rewards of their habitat work.
Habitat is the Key!