Western Association of Fish
& Wildlife Agencies
Summer 2014 Meeting | Winter 2015 Meeting
Annual Conference
July 17 - 23, 2014
San Antonio, Texas
Winter Meeting
January 8 - 11, 2015
Las Vegas, Nevada
Lesser prairie chicken listing decision made by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
On March 27, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the final listing of the lesser prairie chicken as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as a final special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA that will limit regulatory impacts on landowners and businesses from this listing. Under the law, a “threatened” listing means the species is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future; it is a step below “endangered” under the ESA and allows for more flexibility in how the Act’s protections are implemented.

In recognition of the significant and ongoing efforts of states and landowners to conserve the lesser prairie-chicken, this unprecedented use of a special 4(d) rule will allow the five range states to continue to manage conservation efforts for the species and avoid further regulation of activities such as oil and gas development and utility line maintenance that are covered under the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (WAFWA) range-wide conservation plan. This range-wide conservation plan was developed by state wildlife agency experts in 2013 with input from a wide variety of stakeholders. The special rule also establishes that conservation practices carried out through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative and through ongoing normal agricultural practices on existing cultivated land are all in compliance with the ESA and not subject to further regulation. To see the full news release go to http://www.fws.gov/news/ShowNews.cfm?ID=04F68986-AE41-6EEE-5B07E1154C2FB2E7.
Information regarding implementation of the Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan
We at the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA), along with all of our partners who have worked tirelessly to conserve the lesser prairie-chicken and its habitat, are obviously disappointed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the lesser prairie chicken. Working with state wildlife agencies in Texas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, WAFWA developed the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-Wide Conservation Plan. This unprecedented collaboration brings together businesses and landowners across the five states to restore the bird’s habitat, while also giving them some protection from Endangered Species Act regulatory constraints.

We are justifiably proud that 32 companies, particularly in the oil and gas sector, who have voluntarily committed to enroll more than 3.5 million acres and have committed nearly $21 million to conserve prairie-chicken habitat, as part of a comprehensive, science-based conservation strategy under the range-wide plan. Our focus now is to continue implementing the plan, recover the species, and thus facilitate the bird’s removal from the federal threatened and endangered species list. In that regard, we appreciate the Service’s commitment to using the range-wide plan as the ultimate blueprint for recovery.
Enrollment information for the Lesser prairie chicken range-wide conservation plan
The lesser prairie chicken range-wide conservation plan (RWP) provides industry and landowners, through their enrollment, the ability to receive compliance with the Endangered Species Act and not be subject to further regulation. Landowners and Industry have two enrollment option.

Industry representatives please click here to review the FAQ sheet regarding your options for enrolling. For those enrolling in the RWP please click here for the WAFWA Certificate of Participation (WCP). For those interested in enrolling in the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances please click here for the CCAA document. Please note: Companies only have 30 days to enroll under the CCAA, starting from the date the USFWS posts their listing proposal in the federal register. If you have any questions please contact Sean Kyle, chairman of the Lesser Prairie Chicken Interstate Working Group, at sean.kyle@wafwa.org or Bill Van Pelt, Grassland Coordinator at bill.vanpelt@WAFWA.org.

The RWP also provides protective assurances to participating landowners. Landowners may participate in the offset unit generating option (provides assurances and per acre payments) or the non-offset unit generating option (provides assurances but no payments). Farmers, ranchers, and landowners may contact their local state fish and wildlife agency biologist to answer questions about enrollment in the plan.

Click here to learn more about the Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-Wide Conservation Plan

The RWP includes habitat management goals and conservation practices to be applied throughout the lesser prairie-chicken’s range, guided by the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) online database and mapping system, a project supported by the Western Governors Association.

WAFWA would also like to remind you of:
Representing Member Fish and Wildlife Agencies Since 1922

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) represents 23 states and Canadian provinces, spanning from Alaska to Texas and Saskatchewan to Hawaii - an area covering nearly 3.7 million square miles of some of North America's most wild and scenic country, inhabited by over 1500 premier wildlife species.

WAFWA is a strong advocate of the rights of states and provinces to manage fish and wildlife within their borders. The Association has been a key organization in promoting the principles of sound resource management and the building of partnerships at the regional, national and international levels in order to enhance wildlife conservation efforts and the protection of associated habitats in the public interest.

We hope this site allows you to become better acquainted with the people of WAFWA, our mission, and our passion for wildlife. We encourage you to look around the site and be sure to check out the photos from our award-winning photographers.
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