Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Robert Bonnie, announced today a renewed and expanded partnership to provide expert habitat advice to farmers and ranchers managing land within lesser prairie-chicken range.
“Our goal is to deliver a win-win for agricultural producers and wildlife,” said Bonnie. “We want to help farmers and ranchers succeed for the long term while also protecting and improving habitat for the lesser prairie-chicken and protecting the region’s ecosystem. Often, what is good for prairie-chickens is good for ranching.”
As part of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI), the agency is partnering with Pheasants Forever, a national wildlife conservation organization, to jointly invest $5 million over three years to support technical assistance, including hiring non-federal field conservationists to help farmers and ranchers voluntarily maintain and improve lesser prairie chicken habitat in the Southern Great Plains.
In addition, NRCS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently finalized a plan that can provide regulatory predictability for farmers and ranchers improving lesser prairie-chicken habitat, should the species be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
As agreed to by NRCS and USFWS, farmers and ranchers voluntarily applying lesser prairie-chicken-friendly conservation practices may be protected from additional regulations under the Endangered Species Act for up to 30 years.
“The partnership between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Pheasants Forever, state fish and wildlife agencies and others is will provide crucial tools and resources for voluntary conservation on lands that can benefit the lesser prairie-chicken,” Bonnie said. “It’s partnerships like these that can find solutions for some of our country’s most challenging conservation issues.”