If you are familiar with the Bobwhite quail, then you may also know Texas has faced a declining quail population, as well as many other states. This population decline correlates to the decrease in native habitat for quail. Bobwhite quail thrive on the nutritional value found when foraging on native seeds. Native plants are not only used as a source of food but also for nesting habitat, predator defense, and escapement. Native prairies are also needed to attract the insects for young chicks to feed on. Insects provide a large portion of the metabolic water required by quail of all ages.
In 2014, Texas lawmakers reserved $6 million for restoring native prairies and researching Bobwhite quail. However, there is one group who has already taken up the call for action to preserve the quail. Jim Willis, the founder of the Wildlife Habitat Federation (WHF), began the initiative to preserve Bobwhite quail when he began transitioning his overgrazed pastures into native grasslands in 2004. They started out with 200 acres and created what they call the Quail Corridor. This corridor spreads down to the Attawater Prairie Chicken Reserve and has helped the Bobwhite quail population restoration efforts. Jim Willis’ and the WHF’s dedication to restoring prairie lands has helped inspire others to join the same restoration and conservation initiative. Since 90% of Texas is privately owned, landowners are the key to helping restore these native prairies. Today Jim Willis and the WHF have helped to restore 40,000 acres of native prairies that were once introduced monoculture pastures. It is the goal of the WHF to help restore 200,000 acres of native prairies for Bobwhite quail habitat and population growth.
Bamert Seed Company has been partnering with Jim and the WHF since 2010. Our partnership and friendship with Jim and the WHF developed out of our shared goals to restore and conserve native prairies. Bamert Seed Company has helped Jim and the WHF develop planting strategies and native blend diversity. Throughout the years as WHF’s program has grown, so has our partnership. Bamert Seed Company supplies the seed for WHF’s initiative with blends that create diversity; as well as making available WHF locally harvested seed.
John F. Kennedy once said that “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” Jim Willis and the WHF have proven their leadership role in the preservation of the Bobwhite quail and their habitat.
For more inforamation regarding Jim Willis’ progress in restoring native prairies please visit the recent Houston Chronical article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/science-environment/article/Prairie-landowners-replant-to-make-room-for-quail-5928426.php?t=cc33b2e5e6b82edad4&cmpid=email-desktop#/0
For more information regarding the Wildlife Habitat Federation, please visit their website at: www.whf-texas.org