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Ways to Help the Bobwhite Quail Using Fire, Herbicides and Longleaf Pine Plantings and Protecting the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

Ways to Help the Landowner Have More Quail

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Drastic changes in the southern landscape over the years negatively has impacted the bobwhite quail’s habitat. However, many landowners would rather not go through the expenses and efforts associated with burning their lands to aid quail populations. The use of herbicide to complement regular burning, however, has shown signs of aiding both the quail population and benefitting Click to enlargeto the landowner. To learn how this land-management treatment can be beneficial for both, I interviewed Mark Thomas of Birmingham, Alabama, a certified wildlife biologist and certified forester.

Most landowners won't pay the price to use herbicide or go to the trouble and expense of burning their lands just to provide more quail for hunters. However, the use of herbicide and fire prior to the planting of pine plantations will allow a landowner to increase both his timber production and quail habitat with no added expense. "When you eliminate the competition for moisture and boost thenutrition in the soil by using an herbicide, pine trees will grow bigger, quicker," Thomas mentions.  "By controlling the root systems of the low-quality hardwood brush, more nutrients and water remain in the soil for the pine trees and the native plants, which thereby increases timber production and wildlife habitat at the same time."    

Then, using herbicide and regulated-burning become economic benefits to the landowneClick to enlarger and well worth the expense. Not only do these practices produce more quail than many-other management practices, they also increase the value of the wildlife and the timber on his land. "Most timber managers who lease land for hunting designate 1 to 2 percent of their lands around places such as old log-loading areas for food plots for wildlife," Thomas says. "But we recommend landowners go into the interior of a pine stand and put in what is called a spoke-and-hub design wildlife planting."    

In the spoke-aClick to enlargend-hub design, a greenfield in the center of a pine plantation will have at least three strips extending from it that measure 35-feet wide or more and 100- to 400-yards long. In the center of the hub, thelandowner places a deer stand or a wildlife-viewing platform. Each of these strips off the hub, especially if it contains a food crop, will provide a place where quail can feed, bug and dust. Biologists like to disc one edge in a somewhat irregular pattern to provide a dusting and bugging area and to increase edge effect. This system, utilizing only 1 to 2 percent of the land used to grow timber, will produce much more wildlife habitat than a standard food plot. Also, you'll gain additional habitat for quail when you use herbicide on the edges of the roads and the firebreaks on the property. After spraying herbicide, these edges then will produce grasses and seeds the quail will eat instead of thehardwood brush. Spraying the roads also reduces the amount of road maintenance that the owner has to do. According to Thomas, a 10- to 15-foot opening on either side of the road where no hardwood brush grows will allow the roads to dry out quicker after a rain, making them easier to maintain, a process foresters call sun-shining.”

We now know that herbicide products can aid landowners in increasing timber production, quail production, habitat and food for other wildlife, restoring the natural-plant succession and raising the value of the land at the same time. The salvation and restoration of the bobwhite quail in the South today will parallel increased timber production with the use of a herbicide and result in landowners making more money per year for their timber. At the same time, as a by-product of better timber-management practices, more of the beautiful speckled bobwhites will fill the skies. 

Tomorrow: Who’s Doing Something to Save the Bobwhite?

Check back each day this week for more about "Ways to Help the Bobwhite Quail Using Fire, Herbicides and Longleaf Pine Plantings and Protecting the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker"

Day 1: How Burning Forests Can Help Quail
Day 2: How Using an Herbicide Can Help the Bobwhite
Day 3: Ways to Help the Landowner Have More Quail
Day 4: Who’s Doing Something to Save the Bobwhite?
Day 5: To Help the Bobwhite, Help the Red-cockaded Woodpecker


Entry 495, Day 3