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3,000 acres designated as ‘quail focal area’ in McCormick County

SCDNR, USACE, and SCBI team up to dedicate 3,000 acres to Quail habitat restoration
Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 6:55 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The bobwhite quail population has been decreasing roughly for 3-4% each year for the past few decades.

Habitat loss is the main driver of population decline. To help improve habitat for quail in South Carolina, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative (SCBI) all teamed up and designated around 3,000 acres as a quail focal area in McCormick County.

“Without the habitat improvement, it’s just not going to go anywhere,” says Cory Drennan, a wildlife biologist for SCDNR. Drennan will help manage the new quail focal area in Bordeaux, S.C., around Clarks Hill Lake along with his staff Don Stone, Jon Davis, and Joe Brown.

“We’ve got some areas that are in pretty decent shape so we already have some good quail habitat”, added Drennan.

Breck Carmichael, a wildlife biologist for SCDNR and SCBI, said, “we’re just excited to get this focal area started. We have all the pieces in place. We have a great partner in the USACE. Great manager in Cory Drennan and his staff.”

This is the fifth quail focal area in South Carolina dedicated to restoring quail populations. The other four focal areas in South Carolina are located at Indian Creek (U.S. Forest Service), Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Lea (SC Forestry Commission), and Webb Center Complex (SCDNR).

Carmichael added, “we’ve got about 3,000 contiguous acres here in this focal area so I think we can have some good results”. Crews from these agencies hope to restore around 1,500 acres of quail habitat in this area over the next 5 years through prescribed burning, canopy opening, and herbicide application. Deer, turkey, fox squirrels, and many other native species will benefit from this habitat restoration.

Staff and volunteers will be conducting fall surveys in a few weeks to see how many birds they already have on site. The goal is to eventually have 1 quail for every 3 acres.

The focal area is public land and can be used to hunt deer, turkey and other animals with proper licensing during the right season. These agencies also need the help of private land owners to make a bigger impact on population growth. Drennan adds, “private land owners if and when possible is great for them to become involved”.

If you are interested in getting more involved with helping restore quail populations, you can join a local chapter of Quail Forever to find out more about volunteer opportunities.

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