The National Fire Bird Conservation Award recognizes individuals for their contributions to statewide habitat-based restoration efforts of wild bobwhite populations. The overarching theme of the award, however, symbolizes the historic reliance of bobwhites on fire in much of its range to maintain the landscape in an “early successional” stage — native grasses, wildflowers and “weeds” that provide bobwhites with suitable habitat. Both wildfires and fires intentionally set by landowners to clear farm fields and woodlots historically resulted in abundant habitat for bobwhites, as well as numerous other wildlife species.
“I’m drawn to managing for northern bobwhite because they are in such decline and so many other species also benefit when restoring habitat for quail,” Viers said. “It’s very fulfilling to know that landowners are seeing a quail response after our restoration efforts. I’m also grateful to be recognized by my peers in receiving such a prestigious award from NBCI.”
Hired as a Farm Bill wildlife biologist for Quail Forever in 2013, Viers has led an impressive career in the state of Tennessee working in a shared position with Quail Forever, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Working tirelessly to provide technical assistance to landowners interested in voluntary conservation programs, Viers has worked with 990 landowners to impact nearly 20,000 acres for bobwhite quail and other wildlife on private lands, including the use of prescribed fire to rejuvenate quality early-successional habitat for wildlife in Tennessee.