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NACD Applauds USFWS' Recognition of Voluntary Efforts in Lesser Prairie-Chicken Listing

Wed, 02 Apr 2014 15:50:24 CDT

NACD Applauds USFWS' Recognition of Voluntary Efforts in Lesser Prairie-Chicken Listing
April 2, 2014-The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) is pleased that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is taking steps to limit some of the regulatory impacts on landowners, businesses and communities of the listing of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The special rule, under section 4(d) of the ESA, creates an unprecedented conservation partnership between the USFWS and states.

On March 27, USFWS announced the listing of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken as threatened under the ESA, along with a special 4(d) rule that will allow states and landowners who are already in compliance with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' (WAFWA) Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiatives and other routine agricultural practices to be considered compliant with the ESA, without being subjected to future regulation.

"NACD is pleased with the section 4(d) special rule's inclusion, allowing the NRCS and WAFWA Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiatives, as well as other agricultural practices of states and landowners, to be considered compliant with the ESA and not subjecting landowners to future regulation," said NACD President Earl Garber. "Such voluntary, incentivized efforts to conserve the Lesser Prairie-Chicken habitat and to avoid regulatory impacts illustrate the power of partnership and the importance of locally-led conservation efforts."

The five range states of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, will continue to manage conservation efforts for the species and avoid further regulation of activities that are covered under the WAFWA range-wide conservation plan. President Garber has previously expressed support for this range-wide conservation plan and is pleased to see its legitimacy upheld in this threatened listing.   

USFWS Director Dan Ashe recognized the success of conservation plans in his statement: "We understand that oil and gas companies, ranchers and other landowners have signed up over 3 million acres of land for participation in the states' range-wide conservation plan and the NRCS' Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative...We expect these plans to work for business, landowners and the conservation of prairie-chickens."



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