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Agricultural News

Natural Resources Committee Holds Hearing on Lesser Prairie Chicken

Wed, 05 Jun 2013 10:22:26 CDT

Natural Resources Committee Holds Hearing on Lesser Prairie Chicken
Yesterday the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to determine the success of certain species conservation, including that of the Lesser Prairie Chicken. The hearing included discussion on the differences between state and federal best practices in the management of species.

Congressman Markwayne Mullin participated in the questioning portion of the hearing, citing the invested interest the state of Oklahoma already maintains in preserving the species and our heritage. Tyler Powell, Oklahoma Deputy Secretary of Environment, testified before the committee, at which point Congressman Mullin engaged him on what the state is actually doing on its own accord, without federal mandates.

"There isn't anyone who wants to take care of land better than we do," said Mullin. "My children are the fourth generation on the land that I grew up on. We want our wildlife to be there, but we also want to have a working partner in the process of conservation. Every time we allow an agency to get involved, one that doesn't have the personal connection to our land, they throw commonsense out of the window. These agencies start enforcing uniform mandates that do not fit our state. One size does not fit all. If states are permitted to do their due diligence, and succeed at conservation, the federal government should stay out of the process."

For nearly 15 years, the Lesser Prairie Chicken species has been a focus of preservation efforts in the state of Oklahoma. The purpose of these preservation efforts has been to keep the species from becoming listed as endangered. The state of Oklahoma has spent over $26 million on items such as habitat conservation, land acquisition and research. Not included in this amount is the work done by energy and transmission companies as well as private landowners.

The chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Congressman Doc Hastings, along with the rest of the committee focused on real concerns such as the current litigation by activist environmental groups, which actually harm our state's opportunity to lead on species recovery.

In his testimony, Tyler Powell spelled out the concerns the state of Oklahoma has with the federal government as they pertain to the Lesser Prairie Chicken.

"As it stands today the Endangered Species Act does not adequately assess the work that states are undertaking and provides little or no role for the states after listing of a species," stated Powell. "State wildlife agencies have built trust with landowners and stakeholders that continue to benefit the Lesser Prairie Chicken and other species. We believe that this trust is lost when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes over all management of a species. As seen in other areas, states are best equipped to manage resources within their boundaries. Our goal remains to have Oklahoma's work on the Lesser Prairie Chicken be an example of how species of greatest conservation need should be managed."

The question and answer portion of the hearing can be found in its entirety online at http://youtu.be/0_GEGpdA5Lk.



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