A bobwhite enthusiast in Texas kicked off fundraising for the new Bobwhite Foundation this week with a $100,000 endowment … and a promise to match up to $1 million in “endowed” donations from any other source within the next two years.
Joe Crafton, founder and chair of Park Cities Quail in Dallas, made the announcement via video to a meeting of the Management Board of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) at the North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference in Arlington, VA Tuesday. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Crafton is CEO and president of CROSSMARK, a leading sales and marketing services company in the consumer goods industry headquartered in Dallas.
In his recorded video message to the NBCI Management Board, Crafton said he had grown up in West Tennessee hunting bobwhite quail on the ancestral farm with his father, who had grown up quail hunting there with his father. His father was devastated at the quail decline, but Crafton said he personally was “thrilled” to see populations of bobwhites when he moved to the Lone Star State, where he proceeded to establish the Park Cities Quail organization. The organization has raised more than $3 million for quail research in the state. Crafton was also instrumental in the founding of the Quail Coalition, linking 12 independent, private quail groups around the state.
Crafton said there are many good things going on for quail in various states, including Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Kentucky, and he wants to ensure those things are communicated and coordinated as best practices across the range and to the public. Repeating outdoor columnist Tom Davis’ description of the bobwhite situation as “our greatest wildlife tragedy,” Crafton said “there are a lot of people who would like to contribute and don’t know how … my father would have contributed to the Bobwhite Foundation if it had existed … I’m confident throughout the South and Midwest we have lots of passionate quail hunters who are doing their estate planning and can contribute to this cause.” Crafton said he was supporting the foundation in honor of his father.
“Bobwhite restoration is unlike any species restoration that’s been attempted,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “Deer, turkey and elk were relatively simple and straightforward. Habitat existed and we moved animals there. Much like waterfowl restoration, bobwhite restoration is a habitat issue. “Bobwhites didn’t disappear overnight and they won’t recover that way either… which means it’s a multi-year challenge requiring a long-term commitment. This is the first critical step in assuring that the bobwhite restoration effort has reliable funding to continue long-term. Joe’s passion for bobwhites and his willingness to launch the foundation’s efforts in memory of his father are immensely important, and we are extremely thankful for his leadership in this arena,” McKenzie said.
The Bobwhite Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established to support the goals and objectives of NBCI, primarily by recreating habitat by “reconnecting” forest management with quail, cattle production with quail, pursing quail habitat possibilities on reclaimed mine lands and communicating to the public the urgent nature of the decline of habitat for quail and other wildlife species around the nation.
Headquartered at the University of Tennessee, NBCI is a project of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a range-wide, policy-level leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of state fish and wildlife agencies, academic research institutions and non-governmental conservation organizations. NBCI is funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, 25 state wildlife management agencies, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Southern Company.