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Agricultural News


Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers Voice Concerns on Lesser Prairie Chicken to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director

Thu, 08 Sep 2011 10:42:27 CDT

Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers Voice Concerns on Lesser Prairie Chicken to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director The listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken on the Endangered Species List is a cause for concern among many Oklahoma farmers and ranchers. At a forum held on Wednesday of this week, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe addressed the issue of the Lesser Prairie Chicken and listened to concerns from many Oklahomans.


A variety of state officials, people with utility and wind farm interests, and oil and gas companies accompanied farmers and ranchers in voicing their concerns about the impacts that could occur if the Lesser Prairie Chicken is in fact listed on the Endangered Species List. Ashe says he learned a lot from all of the people that participated in the forum and as he goes back to Washington, D.C., he is glad to understand the perspective of those that could potentially be effected.


Ashe says he heard a multitude of concerns including the potential economic effects, the impact on utility transmission lines, and transportation projects. Overall, Ashe says what he heard the most concern about was the unknown and people are uncertain about the terms in which a listing could affect them.


Of course, many people want to know exactly when the listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken would be in effect. Ashe says they will consider a request made by Oklahoma Secretary of the Environment Gary Sherrer to allow for two years for Oklahoma to make an effort in expanding the Lesser Prairie Chicken population. However, Ashe says because the process is already underway, a decision is likely to be made by September of 2012. If the listing is warranted, then the final decision would be in the fall of 2013.


The final factor in deciding if the Lesser Prairie Chicken will be added to the Endangered Species List is what Ashe called the "biology" of the bird. This entails the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service looking at the status of the species, which is made up of a number of factors. The number of species, the threats to the species, including the extent and imminence of the threats, the habitat of the species, including the habitat loss and fragmentation, are all factors that will need to be considered as the "biology" of the bird is determined says Ashe.


Ron Hays and Gail Banzet of Oklahoma Farm Bureau sat down with Director Ashe after the meeting and discussed the severity of the Lesser Prairie Chicken issue for Oklahoma, as well as, what steps are being taken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work together with agriculture to reach an agreement. Click on the LISTEN bar below to hear their conversation.


We also have an audio overview of the forum available, featuring other members of importance that made an appearance at the forum, including Oklahoma Secretary of the Environment Gary Sherrer, Amercian Farmers and Ranchers President Terry Detrick, Oklahoma Farm Bureau member Alan Jett and Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese. Click here for our previous story and audio on the Lesser Prairie Chicken Forum.


   

   

Ron Hays and Gail Banzet talk with Director Ashe on listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken
right-click to download mp3

 

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