Bobwhite quail

Proceeds from the 2020-21 bobwhite conservation stamp are earmarked for increasing habitat for ground-nesting birds such as this quail observed at Camp Robinson Special Use Area in Mayflower.

CANEHILL — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and its partner, Historic Cane Hill, will join together at 5 p.m. Sept. 12 to unveil the 2020-21 Arkansas Northern Bobwhite Conservation Stamp.

Vanessa McKuin, executive director at Historic Cane Hill Inc., said the presentation will be streamed live on Historic Cane Hill’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/historiccanehill.

“We obviously would have loved to have had a larger event for this special occasion to celebrate the partnership between the two organizations, but the current social distancing rules prevent us from having more than a handful of people present at the actual unveiling,” McKuin said. “But we are still excited about sharing the event and the artist’s work through social media.”

The artwork, created by Clay Connor of Hot Springs, will be displayed for the first time at the Historic Cane Hill event, but will be available to view on every quail stamp sold in the state.

“There also will be a limited-edition print with gold plated medallion that depicts the stamp’s image available through our partnership with the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation,” Asher said.

Deke Whitbeck, president of the AGFF said, “Each print is signed by the artist – a collectible for all quail enthusiasts.”

Implemented in 2018, the Arkansas Bobwhite Conservation Stamp was the vision of former AGFC Commissioner Steve Cook of Malvern. The voluntary stamp costs $9.50, which is earmarked for activities to put more quail habitat on the ground. The habitat not only supports northern bobwhite, but a host of ground-nesting birds, including turkeys, as well as many pollinating species essential to Arkansas agriculture.

Asher points out that although quail is the featured species for the stamp, critical elements of the artwork must include the true key to quail conservation, native vegetation and wildflowers that support grassland animals.

“We can work to control predators and manage harvest limits, but the key to quail production is that good mix of the proper habitat,” Asher said. “And because so much of Arkansas is privately held, we need more awareness of that habitat to get to landowners who are willing to step up and help us bring back the bobwhite.”

The original concept of the stamp included the prospect of creating an art contest to help generate more awareness about northern bobwhite and their conservation needs in Arkansas. Asher said this year’s artwork was commissioned, but he does hope to complete the original plan of a contest similar to those used in the Federal Duck Stamp Program to help generate interest in the stamp.

“Being completely voluntary, we weren’t sure how many people would purchase the stamp, but we’ve been surprised at the number of Arkansans willing to pay the extra dollars for conservation initiatives that help these birds,” Asher said.

“It has been a long decline for bobwhites throughout the Southeast, and it’s going to take a long fight to bring them back, but the interest in programs like this gives me hope it’s a fight we can win.”