Hello, and welcome to South Carolina Natural Resources, a blog created and maintained by the staff of the S.C. Department of Natural Resource’s Office of Media and Outreach.

Over the coming months, we hope to bring to our readers a lively daily discussion on topics related to natural resources conservation, hunting and fishing, outdoor recreation and tourism, SCDNR projects and initiatives, and other news and information that will be of value to our state’s sporting and conservation communities. It’s just one more way the SCDNR is working to fulfill its mission as the primary steward of and advocate for our state’s amazing natural resources.

Whether you are lucky enough to be a Sandlapper by birth, or are one of the many thousands of folks who have “voted with their feet” to make South Carolina their adopted home, you know without a doubt that this is one special place. With the responsibility for managing more than 1 million acres of wild public lands (and counting), the SCDNR has a huge responsibility to the present and future citizens of this state. And we know that it is the sportsmen and women, the hunters and anglers, and the other individuals who love spending time in the outdoors, who make wildlife and natural resources in this state and in the United States work. Without the funding provided through hunting and fishing licenses and permits and the excise taxes paid on outdoor sporting goods equipment, firearms and ammunition, as well as the working partnerships with landowners and sportsman’s groups, our amazing conservation efforts would be a fraction of what they are today. So for that we say, “thanks,” and please come back and visit often to find out what your state Department of Natural Resources and the larger outdoor community in South Carolina are up to.  We value your input, so if you have ideas for topics you’d like to see covered here, please contact site administrator David Lucas at lucasd@dnr.sc.gov. We look forward to hearing from you.

Bobwhite Quail Restoration Effort Gets New Website

Bobwhite Quail Restoration Effort Gets New Website

Bobwhite quail populations in South Carolina have been in decline since the 1980s. A new initiative involving incentives for private landowners to create more quail-friendly habitat aims to change that.

Bobwhite quail populations in South Carolina have been in decline since the 1980s. A new initiative involving incentives for private landowners to create more quail-friendly habitat aims to change that.

A coordinated effort to restore quail populations in South Carolina just got an electronic boost via a new website,www.scbobwhites.org. The new site is a clearinghouse for the latest information available on the “South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative,” an effort aimed at bringing bobwhite quail populations in the Palmetto State back to the levels that quail hunters enjoyed in the early 1980s.

It’s no secret among hunters and conservationists that wild quail populations have dropped precipitously over the last four decades. In December 2014, a group of state and federal agencies, conservation groups, sportsmen and landowners formed the South Carolina Quail Council, with the goal of planning and carrying out a statewide plan for recovery of bobwhite quail, as well as other associated grassland bird species that are also in decline. S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Alvin Taylor serves as chairman of the steering committee for the group.

Science-based approaches to quail recovery that have been proven to have significant impact on quail recovery do exist, but implementing these plans is a tough task that requires a coordinated effort over broad areas of land. The new website is designed to make it easier for private landowners and others interested in quail restoration efforts in South Carolina to get information about the South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative and connect with the agencies involved. The help and cooperation of private citizens is not only welcome, it’s necessary for the plan to work, say DNR biologists involved in the effort.

“Bringing them back to 1980s levels is the goal,” said Michael Hook, a DNR wildlife biologist who coordinates the agency’s Small Game Project. “I’m very excited that the South Carolina Quail Council has been able to roll this effort out. Bobwhite quail are still an important game species in our state, despite recent population declines, and I’m very hopeful that with these efforts we will be able to ‘bring back the whistle’.”

That sentiment is echoed by the DNR’s Breck Carmichael, a veteran wildlife biologist with the agency and current special assistant to Director Taylor. Carmichael has also served as a past national coordinator of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative.

“Some people say the goal (returning quail populations in their historic ranges to the levels that existed in the 1980s) is not ambitious enough,” said Carmichael, “but I can tell you this: I was quail hunting in the eighties and it was a lot better then than it was now.”

The heart of the S.C Bobwhite Initiative is based around four “Focal Regions” encompassing smaller “Focal Areas,” locations that experts believe have the most potential for growing the greatest number of bobwhites. To identify the regions and areas within those regions, biologists crunched a lot of data about how land is used in different parts of South Carolina and the types of cover and vegetation that dominate the landscapes across the state, and they determined that these areas were the sweet spots for growing quail. These areas aren’t the only areas in the state with bobwhites, but they do present the best opportunities to increase populations quickly and with the most bang for the buck.

“This is really a big partnership, a collaborative effort,” said Carmichael. “As we go forward, we’ll see what resources people can bring to the table.”

“There’s a whole lot that can be done in South Carolina,” added Hook. “We’ll start with the four Focal Areas and see where we end up.”

Individuals who are interested in becoming a part of this project can visit the new website at www.scbobwhites.org, e-mail scbobwhites@dnr.sc.gov or call (803) 734-3940 to find out how they can help.

Big scores and big fun at the NASP World Tournament in Myrtle Beach

Big scores and big fun at the NASP World Tournament in Myrtle Beach