LPCI’s new Conservation Strategy takes centerstage in the May 6 edition of the Western Livestock Journal.
The story, Good for the Bird, Good for the Herd, by WLJ Managing Editor Kevin Halladay, begins this way:
In what seems to be a welcomed proliferation of private partnership efforts, a new strategy to improve habitat for the lesser prairiechicken focuses on what ranchers have been saying for decades; grazing required!
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released a three-year conservation strategy for the lesser prairie-chicken at the end of April. Noting that the bird’s habitat is located almost exclusively on privately-held lands, the emphasis on partnering with landowners in ways that are mutually beneficial was strong.
“About 95 percent of the lesser prairie-chicken range falls on private lands, making conservation efforts on these productive family farms and ranges pivotal to the lesser prairie-chicken’s success,” wrote Jason Weller, NRCS Chief, in the plan’s introduction.
“Conservation efforts are designed to be win-win, benefitting the bird while improving the long-term sustainability of agricultural operations. New research demonstrates that sustainable grazing and lesser prairie-chicken conservation are not only compatible, but interdependent.”
The strategy seeks to involve an additional 500,000 acres of private land in the bird’s habitat to add to the roughly 1 million acres already involved in voluntary conservation efforts. The scope of this goal extends out to 2018 when the current farm bill expires. Generally speaking, strategies revolve around improving grassland health through prescribed grazing and judicious use of fire as management tools, and the removal of invasive woody plants.
“Across the country, we’re seeing firsthand how farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are voluntarily stepping forward to aid wildlife species,” Weller added in the group’s announcement of the plan.
“By adopting conservation systems, agricultural producers in the southern Great Plains can restore top-notch lesser prairiechicken habitat while also making working lands more productive and resilient to wildfire and climatic extremes.”