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#06-121 May 8, 2006

‘Quail strips’ can improve bird habitat; South Carolina signups begin June 5

South Carolina has received an additional 5,000-acre allocation for the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program, commonly referred to as “quail strips,” and signups for the program begin June 5. The purpose of this practice is to retire a border around row-cropped fields in order to establish habitat for quail and other upland bird species.

“This program is putting back a component that has been pretty much eliminated over the past 40 to 60 years,” said Judy Barnes, wildlife biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Small Game Project. “Fall quail populations are dependent on the reproductive success of the preceding spring and summer months. Adequate, high-quality nesting cover allows quail and other ground-nesting birds ample opportunity for nest site selection, and reduces nest losses to predators.”

For more information regarding the program, called CP-33 Upland Habitat for Birds, contact your local Farm Service Agency office. For information on establishing suitable quail habitat, contact the DNR’s Small Game Project at (803) 734-3609 in Columbia or via e-mail at or barnesj@dnr.sc.gov. Farm Service Agency county offices will begin accepting applications for the quail strips program on June 5.

Quality nest sites are characterized by bunchgrasses such as broomsedge and annual weeds, according to Barnes. These plants provide bare ground and space is available between stems and bunches of grass to allow easier mobility for quail chicks. Discing and stimulating the growth of native vegetation in these field borders will provide critical nesting and brood rearing habitat. Barnes said she is pleased that South Carolina received the additional acreage for this program so that landowners have the potential to create and enhance habitat for bobwhite quail and other wildlife species.

Eligible producers should own or operate the land offered for 12 months prior to the close of signup. Owners must provide the Farm Service Agency county office with a copy of their deed. Eligible land is cropland that has been planted or considered planted to an agricultural commodity four of the years 1996 to 2001 and is physically and legally capable of being planted in a normal manner. An upland bird border with a minimum width of 45 feet will be established on a minimum of 50 percent of the field perimeter for approved contracts.

Producers will receive an annul rental payment for 10 years, a one-time signup bonus of $100 per acre, and financial assistance to install and manage the buffer area once contract is approved. Applications will be approved in South Carolina on a first-come, first-served basis as approved conservation plans are completed. Signup will continue until all 5,000 acres are obligated.
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