Lesser Prairie-Chicken Habitat in Jeopardy - A Conservation Plan Can Help
Lesser Prairie-Chicken Habitat in Jeopardy . . . Get a Conservation Plan to Help
The Lesser Prairie-Chicken (LPC) has suffered significant population declines throughout its historical range. The species’ range includes the western portions of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, and the eastern portions of New Mexico and Colorado. The population decline has prompted proposals to list the LPC as a candidate species through the Endangered Species Act.
Kansas has been a bright spot for the LPC. Over the past twenty years, Kansas is the only state in the specie’s historical range that has enjoyed increasing LPC populations. This is primarily due to thousands of acres of cropland that have been converted to native grass under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) that are adjacent or in close proximity to large expanses of unbroken prairie.
The LPC population increases realized in Kansas may be in jeopardy. Expiring CRP contracts, coupled with higher grain prices have enticed producers to consider returning these acres back into crop production.
Producers considering converting expired CRP or native grasslands to cropland are encouraged to contact their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office for assistance in developing a conservation plan. Through the conservation planning process, NRCS employees can help producers consider the short-term and long-term effects of cropland conversions and can provide treatment alternatives that may mitigate negative impacts on LPC habitats.
Producers, who would like to improve, maintain, or increase, existing prairie-chicken habitat are also encouraged to contact the NRCS. Inventories of current habitat will be completed through NRCS’s conservation planning process. An analysis of current habitat quality will be completed to forge alternatives for habitat improvement. Once treatment alternatives are determined, NRCS will provide producers the technical assistance necessary in implementing their conservation plan.