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CP-33: The Habitat Buffer Practice for Bobwhite Quail

In many parts of America, quail populations have suffered due primarily to the loss of habitat. Habitat loss has occurred as the result of invasive tree species, plantings of exotic plant species, and urban sprawl. Another factor which has resulted in habitat loss is changes in farming practices. The cleaner and larger farming operations we see today have altered traditional quail habitat by eliminating fencerow borders to make room for larger and more efficient equipment. Today those grassy fencerows or field edges are making a comeback in the way of "borders or buffers".

In August of 2004, President Bush announced a new practice of the USDA's Conservation Reserve Program called CP-33 - Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds, as a continuous sign-up program in the CRP. This new conservation practice provides food and cover for bobwhite quail in cropland areas. Quail Unlimited staff was involved in the initial development and recommendations for the specifics of the program at both the national and state levels.

The practice is applied around field edges of eligible cropland and involves planting native warm-season grasses, forbs (wildflowers), legumes and a limited amount of shrubs. Buffers long have been regarded for reducing soil erosion and protecting water quality by trapping sediments, nutrients and agrichemicals. However, research has demonstrated that grass buffers provide the needed habitat for bobwhite quail and upland birds, as well as other forms of wildlife.
Related Links
Table: State by State

Benefits of Conservation Reserve Program Buffers CP33 Explained in DVD

Fact Sheet

Bobwhite Quail 'Buffers' Pay to Farm

CP-33 Brochure

Farm Bill Programs

National Bobwhite Technical Committee

Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative

The program makes great sense for landowners who are interested in wildlife habitat and their land's overall ecosystem health. The CP-33 program provides cost share assistance to establish field buffers, paying landowners a signing bonus, practice incentive payment and an annual rental rate per acre for the buffer area installed around an agriculture field. Landowners sign-up for this voluntary program at their local Farm Service Agency.

The primary purpose of this practice ofcourse, is to provide food and cover for bobwhite quail and other upland bird species in cropland areas. There are also secondary benefits in reducing soil erosion from wind and water, increasing soil and water quality and enhancing over all ecosystems.

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