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<P> <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=737 border=0> <TBODY> <TR> <TD vAlign=top height=80> <H2 align=center><FONT face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">New Program Aims to <BR>Restore Habitat for Ohio's Bobwhite Quail </FONT></H2><!-- InstanceEndEditable --></TD></TR> <TR> <TD vAlign=top height=854><!-- InstanceBeginEditable name="Page Content" --> <TABLE cellSpacing=3 cellPadding=2 width=595 border=0> <TBODY> <TR> <TD vAlign=top width="50%"> <P><SPAN class=style1><IMG height=352 src="http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/Images/diversity/songbirds/quail.jpg" width=224 align=left><FONT face=Arial size=2>A program to restore habitat for Northern bobwhite quail is now available to property owners in 35 mostly western and southern Ohio counties, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.</FONT></SPAN></P> <P><SPAN class=style1><FONT face=Arial size=2>The Northern Bobwhite Quail Habitat/Upland Bird Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency Conservation Reserve Program, aims to create 250,000 acres of essential upland bird habitat in 35 states nationwide. In Ohio, the goal is 14,200 acres. The new program seeks to create nesting and brood-rearing cover along cropland field borders, while establishing travel corridors.</FONT></SPAN></P> <P><SPAN class=style1><FONT face=Arial size=2>Grassland buffers along crop fields enhance the movement of existing quail coveys and are a critical component of this restoration program. The program will provide a much-needed habitat niche that is lacking in counties within the existing quail range. </FONT></SPAN></P> <P><SPAN class=style1><FONT face=Arial size=2>Nationally, Northern bobwhite quail numbers have declined in the past 20 years, largely due to loss of early successional grassland corridors and the transitional development of once grassy fields into woods and row crops. In Ohio, the blizzards of 1977-78 decimated quail numbers, which have yet to rebound to 1977 levels (</FONT><A href="http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/Resources/wbirds/birdid/026.htm" target=_blank><FONT face=Arial color=#446493 size=2>read more about the life history of bobwhite quail in Ohio</FONT></A><FONT face=Arial size=2>).</FONT></SPAN></P> <P class=style1>Counties selected for the initiative provide the greatest potential for some reestablishment of quail and other upland bird populations. They are Williams, Defiance, Wyandot, Marion, Shelby, Darke, Miami, Clark, Greene, Fayette, Pickaway, Fairfield, Perry, Morgan, Washington, Hocking, Preble, Montgomery, Butler, Warren, Clinton, Ross, Vinton, Athens, Hamilton, Clermont, Brown, Highland, Adams, Pike, Scioto, Jackson, Lawrence, Gallia, and Meigs counties (<A href="http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/News/quailhabitat_0105_map.htm" target=_blank><FONT color=#446493>View Map</FONT></A>). </P> <P><SPAN class=style1><FONT face=Arial size=2>To be eligible, the cropland to be enrolled must satisfy the basic eligibility and cropping history criteria for the Conservation Reserve Program. To determine individual eligibility for the initiative, farmers and landowners in the counties named should check with their local Farm Service Agency office. The following payments are offered for eligible acres:</FONT></SPAN></P> <UL> <LI><SPAN class=style1><FONT face=Arial size=2>One-time signing incentive payments of up to $100 per acre.</FONT></SPAN> <LI><SPAN class=style1><FONT face=Arial size=2>Practice incentive payments of up to 40 percent of the eligible establishment cost. When combined with cost-share assistance of 50 percent, up to 90 percent of reimbursable practice costs are covered.</FONT></SPAN> <LI><SPAN class=style1><FONT face=Arial size=2>Producers will receive annual rental payments for up to 10 years.</FONT></SPAN> </LI></UL> <P><SPAN class=style1></SPAN><SPAN class=style1><FONT face=Arial size=2>Program sign-up at local Farm Service Agency offices began December 10, and eligible land may be enrolled at any time until the 14,200 acres approved for Ohio have been established or December 31, 2007, whichever comes first. </FONT></SPAN><BR></P></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></P>
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