Jack Rabbit, Texas-Photo Credit Chase Fountain

Burrowing Owl, Nevada - Photo Credit Tim Torrell

Eyed Trout Eggs, Tonto Creek Hatchery AZ - Photo Credit George Andrejko

Humpback Whales, Orca, Alaska - Photo Credit Sandstrom, Riley Woodford

 
 
 

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Sep 03

WAFWA Statement Regarding the Federal Court Decision about the Lesser Prair...

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) is evaluating the recent federal court decision regarding the listing of the lesser prairie-chicken that was handed down in the U.S. District Court Western District of Texas on Sept. 1, 2015. The decision vacates federal protections for the lesser prairiechicken, which was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2014.

The court ruling states 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 the Lesser Prairie-Chicken RangeWide Plan (RWP). The RWP was developed and is being administered by WAFWA.

The court decision underscores the validity of a comprehensive voluntary conservation effort involving state conservation agencies, landowners and industry. The RWP was developed with long term conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken in mind, regardless of its Endangered Species Act status. This plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing the identified threats considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Regardless of the eventual outcome of this latest court decision, continued implementation of the RWP is critical to long-term conservation of the bird and its habitat.

Since the plan went into effect last year, more than 96,000 acres of lesser prairie-chicken habitat is being conserved through ten-year landowner agreements. More than 180 oil, gas, wind, electric and pipeline companies have enrolled about 11 million acres across the five states, and have committed $47.5 million for habitat conservation. Enrollment fees are deposited into an endowment with WAFWA and administered to fund conservation efforts by private landowners to benefit the lesser prairie-chicken within its five-state range. (Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico). Landowners currently enrolled in the conservation plan will receive $14 million dollars in payments over the life of their contracts.

An abundance of spring rainfall, along with ongoing efforts associated with the RWP and other conservation initiatives, has helped increase the population of birds by approximately 25 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to results from a recent range-wide aerial survey. Despite this encouraging news, the population is still low compared to historical numbers and the threats to the lesser prairie-chicken and its habitat still exist.

Organized in 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) represents 23 states and Canadian provinces, an area covering nearly 3.7 million square miles of some of North America's most wild and scenic country. WAFWA supports and promotes 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. 

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Photo Credit Dan Williams, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (c)


Aug 17

WAFWA Report Documents Greater Sage-Grouse Population Rebound

Latest population trend report released to USFWS shows reversal of recent declines

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) released a final report today on greater sage-grouse population trends across the Western United States, and the results are encouraging. While the report shows that sage-grouse populations vary greatly over time, the number of male birds documented this year has rebounded significantly from a recent low in 2013.  Scientists make...


Jun 23

Last Dance? An urgent effort to save the West's iconic lesser prairie chick...

Last Dance? An urgent effort to save the West's iconic lesser prairie chicken could point the way to a truce in other endangered-species battles.


May 12

Western Governors transition management of Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool ...

"The Western Governors’ Association (WGA) has transferred hosting and management responsibilities for the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA).


May 08

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-Wide Plan Reports Successful First Year

"On March 31, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) its first annual report detailing achievements under the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (LPC) Range-wide Conservation Plan (RWP). Among other highlights, the estimated lesser prairie-chicken range-wide population increased by 20 percent to around 22,400 birds...


May 08

Aerial Survey Shows Lesser Prairie-Chicken Population Increased 20 Percent ...

"Ascertaining precise estimates of wildlife population size (N) is valuable information for natural resource agencies in the management of harvested and non-harvested species (Rabe et al. 2002). Acquiring precise and unbiased estimates of population size...


May 08

Nearly 14 Million Acres Now Enrolled Under Various Lesser-Prairie Chicken C...

"The May 12 listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act helped fuel a surge in oil and gas company enrollments to conserve the species under special agreements spearheaded by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA)...


May 08

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-Wide Plan Tops 3.6 Million Acres, Industry Enr...

Thirty-two private companies in five states representing oil and gas, pipelines, electric transmission and wind energy have committed to enroll more than 3.6 million acres in the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Rangewide Conservation Plan, providing about $21 million for habitat conservation...


May 08

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-Wide Plan Reaches 2.5 Million Acres in Five St...

"Private companies in five states have now enrolled more than 2.5 million acres in the Lesser PrairieChicken Range-wide Conservation Plan, representing oil and gas, pipelines, electric transmission and wind energy, resulting in nearly $15 million for habitat conservation...


May 08

Greater Sage-Grouse Comprehensive Conservation Stratagy

The overall goal of the range-wide Strategy is to maintain and enhance populations and distribution of sage-grouse by protecting and improving sagebrush habitats and ecosystems that sustain these populations...


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