FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Emily Hytha
Washington, D.C. (March 3, 2014) – Friday evening, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) quietly signed the Range-wide Oil and Gas Industry Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (CCAA), along with an accompanying environmental assessment. This agreement between USFWS, WAFWA, and the five range states allows private landowners who develop oil and gas on their lands to voluntarily enroll into the CCAA. Upon entering the CCAA, participants will pay mitigation fees when they perform certain actions that impact the lesser prairie-chicken or its habitat. These fees will then be used for conservation purposes.
Western Caucus Chairman Steve Pearce and Western Caucus Member Randy Neugebauer responded to the announcement with the following statements:
“I want to commend FWS for working with the five range states to approve the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Oil and Gas CCAA,” said Chairman Steve Pearce. “This decision will provide certainty for private landowners as they continue to exercise their rights to develop the resources on their lands. Listing the lesser prairie-chicken as endangered threatens the economic stability of our communities. Fortunately, conservation and development are not mutually exclusive goals. FWS must continue to work with the five range states to fully implement the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-Wide Conservation strategy, which they endorsed last October. This plan added over 1.5 million acres of habitat to millions of acres already enrolled through other FWS approved conservation programs. Energy, agriculture and other industries have proven that they will put in the effort to ensure that the species will survive, and preclude the need for an endangered or threatened listing. I look forward to working with FWS, WAFWA, the range states, and my colleagues in Washington to save the lesser prairie-chicken and the jobs our communities so desperately need.”
“I’m really pleased the Fish and Wildlife Service heeded our request to finalize the Range-wide Oil and Gas Industry Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken,” added Congressman Neugebauer. “This is an important step toward giving the range-wide conservation plan a chance to succeed, preventing a costly and unnecessary listing. Farmers, ranchers, energy companies, and landowners can work together with state wildlife agencies to preserve habitat and protect the Lesser Prairie Chicken, without federal intervention.”