Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts Working on Pilot Program to Protect Lesser Prairie ChickensThu, 03 Nov 2011 14:13:05 CDT
The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are all working together to help establish a program to help Lesser Prairie Chickens not make the endangered species list. Ron Hays sat down with Clay Pope, Executive Director for the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, at the Oklahoma Ag Expo, where Pope was speaking on Thursday morning, to talk about the program and how these organizations are working towards a solution.
Pope says they are working towards a program that is similar to the carbon credit program, where they were allowed to pay individuals who will do the requirements of the program on their land. Pope says the goal would be to improve the wildlife habitat and basically forego certain types of developments to try to improve the quality of the habitat area for the Lesser Prairie Chicken.
Basically it is a way to offset the impacts of development on a short term basis adds Pope. With a couple of different approaches to the situation with the Lesser Prairie Chicken being looked at, Pope says many farmers and ranchers are hesitant to place permanent easements on their property. Pope says they are hoping to split the difference with five-year contracts where they can negotiate with the landowner.
Pope says they are hoping the launch of the program will happen before the end of the year with producers being able to sign up for the program this upcoming spring. Also, they are hoping to have about 10,000 acres particpating in the program with about a 12 month to 18 month window.
Ultimately, Pope says they are hoping to have a program that helps to improve the wildlife habitat and keeps the Lesser Prairie Chicken off the endangered species list, while still providing a financial benefit to those producers that are practicing stewardship on their land to improve the habitat.
Click on the LISTEN bar below to hear more from Ron Hays and Clay Pope as they talk about the development of this wildlife habitat program to help save the Lesser Prairie Chicken.
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