Hope in the face of a lesser prairie chicken listing - Albuquerque Journal

Hope in the face of a lesser prairie chicken listing

Since 2008, CEHMM has worked with the oil and gas industry and landowners through voluntary cooperative conservation initiatives for the lesser prairie chicken and the dunes sagebrush lizard. The agreements are designed to help keep industry and landowners working, while providing conservation benefits on the landscape for the species. Corporate and independent companies and landowners have been enrolled since the inception of the Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA) and the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) programs.

Oil and gas industry participation has contributed to the conservation efforts of the CCA/CCAAs administered by CEHMM for more than a decade. Through these programs, CEHMM has treated mesquite, removed dead standing mesquite, and installed new wildlife friendly fencing and drinking troughs to help manage grazing for landowners, all of which conserve and/or improve habitat for the species. Enrollees in the CCA/CCAAs receive protections from take of the species (“take” is defined as any action that “harasses, harms, pursues, hunts, shoots, wounds, kills, traps, captures, or collects, or to attempts to engage in any such conduct” a species listed under the Endangered Species Act) and assurances on nonfederal lands and a high degree of certainty on federal lands, that additional restrictions will not be placed on their activities in the event either of the species is listed as threatened or endangered.

On (Thursday), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will be listing the lesser prairie chicken as endangered in New Mexico. The good news is that CEHMM’s CCA/CCAA programs mentioned above are still open for enrollment. Oil and gas operators, midstream companies, utility companies servicing oil and gas development, and others can enroll until Jan. 24, 2023, and receive protections from take of the species.

Companies that do not enroll by the deadline will not be protected from take and will have to go through a consultation process with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to permit projects on the landscape. This consultation process may take months and even up to a year to complete. Companies enrolled in CEHMM’s CCA/CCAA programs will not have to go through that process. Contact CEHMM at the number below to learn more about the LPC/DSL CCA/CCAA program and how it may benefit you in the face of a lesser prairie chicken listing.

CEHMM is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization located in Carlsbad, New Mexico. We are here to help keep industry on the ground working while simultaneously providing conservation efforts through cooperative conservation. For further information on how CEHMM can assist your activities on the landscape, visit our website at http://www.cehmm.org or call the CEHMM office at 575-885-3700.

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