Bobwhites; Photo Credit: USFWS
Bobwhites; Photo Credit: USFWS

Washinton, DC –  -( The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) achieved its two top priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill—the inclusion of language encouraging USDA programs to use native vegetation (as opposed to exotic species) in its conservation programs, and an increase in the funding for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) tree thinning and prescribed burning from $10 million in the 2014 bill to $12 million in the new bill.

The native vegetation language reads:

“The Managers recognize the benefits of native vegetation to improve water and air quality and enhance soil health. By encouraging the adoption of native vegetation seed blends, USDA programs are supporting habitat restoration for the northern bobwhite, lesser prairie-chicken, greater sage-grouse, other upland game birds, songbirds, monarch butterflies and pollinators. The Managers encourage the use of native vegetation where practicable.”

“We have contended for years that adoption of a native vegetation standard by USDA could be the single most important development in restoring bobwhites, other grassland birds and pollinators across their ranges,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “Such an improved standard for public conservation money spent by USDA would be the game changer that finally tilts the playing field in favor of many declining species on private lands. On top of that achievement, we also succeeded in expanding the sorely needed CRP tree thinning and prescribed fire effort.”

NBCI created the Natives First Coalition to rally support for the use of native vegetation in the Conservation Title programs of the Farm Bill, organized field tours and briefings for key Congressional staff and conducted letter-writing campaigns with coalition members.

“There are many organizations and individuals that played a key role in helping make this happen,” McKenzie said.

“Key among those were the House Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, &

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