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Mar 07

Aerial Survey to Document Lesser Prairie-Chicken Population Trends

Aerial Surveys to Document Lesser Prairie-Chicken Population Trends

Aerial surveys will begin March 16 and run through mid-May in five states containing lesser prairie-chicken habitat. The surveys are conducted annually by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) to document population trends and how the bird is responding to management strategies identified in the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan.
The range-wide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and the state wildlife agencies of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. It was developed to ensure conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken with voluntary cooperation of landowners and industry. The plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat.
“We’ve established a consistent methodology for these aerial surveys, working closely with the wildlife agencies of each of the states involved,” explained Roger Wolfe, WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-chicken Program Manager. “We’re documenting population trends over time that will allow us to see how various management strategies for the bird are working on the ground.”
The surveys will be conducted by helicopter in locations chosen randomly within lesser prairie-chicken range, which is part of the methodology strategy. In previous years, some of the fly paths prompted calls, which is why WAFWA is getting the word out about the start of aerial survey work.
Results from this year’s surveys will be available on July 1.
WAFWA news releases available at http://www.wafwa.org/news/
Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan can be found HERE


March 7, 2017
Contact: Roger Wolfe, 785.256.3737
roger.wolfe@wafwa.org 

Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 23 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.

Photo Credit: Grant Beauprex


Feb 13

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Grant to Restore Lesser Prairie-Chick...

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has awarded a grant to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) to restore habitat to benefit the lesser prairie-chicken. The grant, which totals $197,309.25, is being funded through NFWF’s ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation Program.

“We appreciate our partnership with NFWF and ConocoPhillips and look forward to applying these funds as we continue to implement the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Plan,” said Alexa Sandoval, Director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and Chairman of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative Council. “Restoration work is key to the long-term survival of the bird and this grant will contribute to the combined efforts to keep the bird off the endangered species list.”

The bird was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2014, but was de-listed in 2016 after a federal judge ruled on a lawsuit and vacated protections for the bird. The judge ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not thoroughly consider active conservation efforts in making the listing decision, namely the activities associated with WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-Wide Plan. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife is currently reviewing the status of the lesser prairie-chicken across its five-state range to determine whether it should be listed again.

The NFWF grant will fund restoration work on up to 1,000 acres of private land that will connect larger fragmented pieces of prairie-chicken habitat. Contiguous tracts of good habitat create better conditions for the bird.

“The range-wide plan calls for us to focus our efforts as strategically as possible,” said Bill Van Pelt, WAFWA Grassland Coordinator. “By connecting good bird habitat, more acreage will be available for the birds to thrive.”

The range-wide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and the state wildlife agencies of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. It was developed to ensure conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken by providing a mechanism for voluntary cooperation by landowners and industry and improving coordination between state and federal conservation agencies. Funding for WAFWA’s conservation efforts comes from voluntary mitigation payments by industry partners that are enrolled in the plan, along with grants from partners like NFWF. The plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat.

 

WAFWA news releases available at www.wafwa.org/news/

More info about NFWF’s ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation Program: www.nfwf.org/spirit/Pages/home.aspx

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan can be found HERE

Media contact: Bill Van Pelt
602-717-5066
bill.vanpelt@wafwa.org

Photo Credit: Grant Beauprez

Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 23 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.


Feb 02

ON THE HORIZON- Issue 4-February 2017

Find out about the latest efforts to conserve the lands, waters and wildlife in the West.


Jan 05

WAFWA Secures First Conservation Easement for Lesser Prairie-Chicken Habita...

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has finalized permanent conservation agreements with a private landowner to conserve 1,781 acres of high-quality lesser prairie-chicken habitat in south-central Kansas. This is the first permanent conservation easement in the mixed-grass prairie region secured as part of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Plan.
The conserved acreage is all native rangeland currently being managed for livestock production, and this historical use will continue. The property is occupied by lesser prairie-chickens and is located within one of the highest priority conservation areas identified in the range-wide plan.
The transactions includes a conservation easement purchased by WAFWA and held by Pheasants Forever that legally restricts future development and activities that would be detrimental to the habitat for the bird. All other property rights associated with historical use of the land will be retained by the private landowner. WAFWA has also established an endowment that will provide the landowner with sufficient payments to implement a lesser prairie-chicken conservation plan in perpetuity. This transaction not only permanently protects key prairie habitat but also ensures that this property will remain a working cattle ranch.
“This conservation easement is another milestone in the successful implementation of the range-wide plan and will permanently secure important habitat that the birds need to thrive,” said Roger Wolfe, WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-Chicken Program Manager. “We appreciate the collaboration with Pheasants Forever, our industry partners who are funding this effort, and the conservation-minded landowner who has made this possible.”

“It took a lot of work on the part of WAFWA, Pheasants Forever and ourselves to find a balance between the needs of the lesser prairie-chicken and maintaining historical use of the land,” said Tom Hammond, manager of the property. “The result is an innovative approach that acknowledges and rewards landowners for permanently conserving large tracts of habitat, while maintaining the integrity of the land for the long-term benefit of the landowner and the species. There is high quality habitat there now because we have managed the range properly for both grazing and wildlife. These agreements make sure that approach remains in place forever.”
The range-wide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and the state wildlife agencies of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. It was developed to ensure conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken by providing a mechanism for voluntary cooperation by landowners and industry and improving coordination between state and federal conservation agencies. Funding for WAFWA’s conservation efforts comes from voluntary mitigation payments by industry partners that are enrolled in the plan. The plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat. Landowners interested in participating in one of the short-term, long-term or permanent conservation options available under the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Plan should contact Roger Wolfe at roger.wolfe@wafwa.org

WAFWA news releases available at http://www.wafwa.org/news/

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Plan can be found HERE

Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 23 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.

Photo Credit: Grant Beauprez


Dec 01

ON THE HORIZON-Issue 3-December 2017

View the third official WAFWA Newsletter


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