Western Association of Fish
& Wildlife Agencies
Summer 2015 Meeting | Winter 2015 Meeting
Annual Conference
July 16 - 22, 2015
Reno, Nevada
Winter Meeting
January 8 - 11, 2015
Las Vegas, Nevada
WAFWA Seeks Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) Program Manager
The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) is seeking a Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) Program Manager. This position will be based in one of the five states within the range of the lesser prairie chicken - Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas or Colorado. The LPC Program Manager will direct field operations; supervise staff; communicate and coordinate among affected state, federal and local entities for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan (RWP); staff the various committees and subcommittees as described in the RWP; coordinate closely with WAFWA financial staff and Executive Secretary; and be responsible for annual monitoring and reporting related to the RWP.

Application deadline is January 31, 2015, with an anticipated start date of March 1, 2015.
Collaborative Effort to Recover the Threatened Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Contact: Mike Phillips, Turner Endangered Species Fund, 406-556-8500, Mike.phillips@retranches.com
Contact: Ross Melinchuk, Chairman of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative Council, 512-389-4868, ross.melinchuk@tpwd.texas.gov

Z Bar Ranch, Barber County, KS.--The Z Bar Ranch and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) recently finalized a 10-year conservation plan with the goal to promote lesser prairie-chicken recovery at the Z Bar Ranch in Kansas. Once abundant across the five range states of Kansas, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, the lesser prairie-chicken’s habitat requirements, which include native short and mixed-grass rangelands in different stages of plant succession, have been reduced by 84%. The loss of suitable habitat and subsequent population declines resulted in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listing the species as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act in May 2014. The collaboration between the Z Bar Ranch and WAFWA provides a noteworthy example of the importance of working ranches in recovery of our nation’s imperiled species.

Z Bar Ranch is owned by philanthropist and environmentalist Ted Turner, who is very pleased about the conservation plan: “I am honored that the Z-Bar ranch will be a significant part of the recovery of the lesser prairie-chicken. I have long believed that working ranches represent the front line of defense against the loss of biological diversity in the Great Plains, as our agreement with WAFWA illustrates.”

Under the terms of the plan, the Z Bar Ranch will continue to be managed for recreation and commodity production including bison ranching, big-game hunting, and gas/oil extraction, but will now also be managed to increase prairie-chicken habitat. Managing for prairie-chicken habitat will not require any significant changes to existing bison management or production goals, nor will it affect hunting operations. The plan will necessitate an increase in prescribed burning and removal of several hundred acres of invasive red cedar in the uplands, which is expected to improve habitat not only for prairie-chickens, but for bison, bobwhite quail, prairie dogs, and numerous other native plant and animal species as well.

The 10-year conservation plan between the Z Bar Ranch and WAFWA encompasses 40,123 acres of mixed-grass prairie in south-central Kansas and represents the state’s largest such enrolled property. Successful restoration of lesser prairie-chicken habitat at the Z Bar Ranch and other participating properties is expected to boost the lesser prairie-chicken population and ultimately result in the de-listing of the species. Landowners within the lesser prairie-chicken range who are interested in assisting in this effort should contact their local state wildlife agency office or USDA service center for more information about available programs.

The Z Bar Ranch is one of 15 Turner Enterprises Inc. properties in the U.S. intermountain west and western grasslands that is managed for bison production and native species conservation. The WAFWA represents 23 states and Canadian provinces, from Alaska to Texas and Saskatchewan to Hawaii, and promotes the principles of sound resource management and the building of partnerships at the regional, national and international level to enhance wildlife conservation and protection. Click here to download the full article.
Aerial Survey Shows Lesser Prairie-Chicken Population Increased 20 Percent in 2014
The third annual lesser prairie-chicken aerial survey shows a nearly 20 percent increase in the bird’s range-wide population, up from an estimated 18,747 birds in 2013 to 22,415 this year. While wildlife biologists are encouraged by the increase, they note that prairie-chicken numbers can fluctuate up and down from year to year, mainly due to grassland habitat conditions influenced by rainfall. To see the full report, click here.
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 and implementation of conservation measures, the ability to receive compliance with the Endangered Species Act and not be subject to further regulation.

Industry representatives please click here to review the FAQ sheet for enrolling strategies. For those wanting to enroll in the RWP please click here for the WAFWA Certificate of Participation (WCP). 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.
Other important information for the Lesser Prairie Chicken Conservation effort
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 Certified Technical Service Providers (click here).

LPC Range-wide Plan Industry Operations Information Sheet (click here).

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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