Agency secures first conservation easement for lesser prairie-chicken habitat on private land

As much as 84 percent of the lesser prairie chicken's original range, which covers parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico had been lost to crops. (Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies photo)

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has finalized permanent conservation agreements with a private landowner to conserve 1,781 acres of high-quality lesser prairie-chicken habitat in south-central Kansas.

This is the first permanent conservation easement in the mixed-grass prairie region secured as part of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Plan.

The conserved acreage is all native rangeland currently being managed for livestock production, and this historical use will continue. The property is occupied by lesser prairie-chickens and is located within one of the highest priority conservation areas identified in the range-wide plan.

The transactions includes a conservation easement purchased by WAFWA and held by Pheasants Forever that legally restricts future development and activities that would be detrimental to the habitat for the bird. All other property rights associated with historical use of the land will be retained by the private landowner. WAFWA has also established an endowment that will provide the landowner with sufficient payments to implement a lesser prairie-chicken conservation plan in perpetuity. This transaction not only permanently protects key prairie habitat but also ensures that this property will remain a working cattle ranch.

The range-wide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and the state wildlife agencies of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. It was developed to ensure conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken by providing a mechanism for voluntary cooperation by landowners and industry and improving coordination between state and federal conservation agencies.

Funding for WAFWA’s conservation efforts comes from voluntary mitigation payments by industry partners that are enrolled in the plan. The plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat. Landowners interested in participating in one of the short-term, long-term or permanent conservation options available under the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Plan may contact Roger Wolfe at roger.wolfe@wafwa.org.

The Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Plan may be found HERE.

Categories: Hunting News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *