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NRCS New Mexico Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative (LPCI)

Picture of Lessor Prairie Chickens out in the fields


Working Lands for Wildlife Landscape Initiative


The lesser prairie-chicken, Tympanuchus pallidicinctus, is an upland, grassland-nesting bird found in the mid-tall mixed grasslands, sand-sage grasslands and shinnery oak grasslands of western Kansas, southeast Colorado, northwest Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle, and eastern New Mexico.  Lesser prairie-chicken populations have declined dramatically during the past several decades; as with the other prairie grouse species, the decline is largely due to loss or degradation of suitable habitat.

The lesser prairie-chicken is listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  To assist in the recovery of this at-risk species, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has collaborated with partners to develop a five-state Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI). The initiative provides financial and technical assistance to landowners for their voluntary management, enhancement, and expan­sion of lesser prairie-chicken habitat, while promoting the overall health of grazing lands and the long-term sustainability of ranching operations.  LPCI objectives will be funded by NRCS through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.


Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) populations need large tracts of relatively intact native grasslands and prairies to thrive.  The vast majority of LPC habitat occurs on privately owned land and voluntary restoration of habitat by private landowners is key to the species survival.  The goals of LPCI are to:

  • Improve habitat quality by removing invasive brush and restoring native grasslands on degraded rangeland, cropland or eroded areas;
  • Restore connectivity of adjoining habitat;
  • Remove obstructions and tall structures and increase the visibility of fences to reduce fence collisions;
  • Reduce the threat of wildfires and utilize prescribe burns to manage the desired plant community;
  • Manage the grazing of livestock to maintain grassland health, provide cover for nests and supply adequate food resources needed to rear a brood.  

Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT)    

An online mapping application was created by a coalition of states to provide information on lesser prairie-chicken habitat; to help facilitate targeted conservation efforts and responsible development of natural resources. The Southern Great Plains Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (SGP CHAT).   

New Mexico Priority Areas

In New Mexico, the priority areas for the LPCI include portions of Chaves, Curry, De Baca, Eddy, Lea, Quay, and Roosevelt Counties.  Priority Area Map (PDF; 766 KB)

LPCI Conservation Practices and Requirements

LPCI contracts must be supported by a conservation plan that contains the core practices documented as either planned within the contract period or already applied on the land under contract.  Core practices will be applied on all LPCI contracted acres.  

Required Core Practices

  • Upland Wildlife Habitat Management (645), and
  • Prescribed Grazing (528) where livestock are present

Supporting Practices

Additional practices are available to support or implement the core practices, or to address any of the following resource concerns identified on the contracted land unit: 

 Fish and Wildlife – Inadequate Habitat

 Inadequate Habitat – Cover/Shelter

 Inadequate Habitat – Food

 Inadequate Habitat – Habitat Continuity (Space)

 Inadequate Habitat – Water

 Degraded Plant Condition

 Undesirable Plant Productivity and Health

 Excessive Plant Pest Pressure

 Wildfire Hazard, Excessive Biomass Accumulation

 Inadequate structure and composition

 Soil Erosion

 Sheet and Rill

 Wind Erosion

 Streambank, Shoreline and Water Conveyance Channels

 Livestock Production Limitation

 Inadequate Feed and Forage

 Inadequate Livestock Shelter

 Inadequate Livestock Water
























Supporting practices include:

  • Brush Management (314)
  • Fence (382)
  • Watering Facility (614)  
  • Prescribed Burning (338)
  • Range Planting (550)
  • Obstruction Removal (500)

The full list of conservation practices available through LPCI:

The documents below require Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Conservation practices must be installed according to NRCS Standards and Specifications found in the electronic Field Office Technical Guide (eFOTG) found at and must also follow the Conservation Measures identified in the LEPC Biological Opinion.

Through LPCI, participants receive ESA predictability connected to the WLFW conservation practices and measures with “incidental take” coverage through July 30, 2040. By providing this predictability, the FWS encourages the long-term implementation of the conservation practices and measures.

For the duration of the WLFW contract, participants must follow measures tied to each conservation practice and maintain all existing or created habitat. There are no additional ESA actions or responsibilities required for the WLFW conservation practices and measures.

Screening and Ranking Criteria

Application ranking criteria is developed specifically for the initiative each fiscal year.  The ranking is designed to place priority to those applications which provide the greatest conservation benefit to the lesser prairie-chicken. As part of this process, applicants will be asked if there are lek sites or lesser prairie-chickens on or near their property; this may be confirmed by NRCS or our representatives prior to final ranking.

Projects are screened and prioritized according to the extent of crucial habitat found in the offered acres.  Projects with more than 50% of offered acres in a Focal or Connectivity Area as mapped in CHAT are considered High Priority and are funded before projects that are Medium or Low priority. 

The documents below require Adobe Acrobat Reader.

After priority is established with the screening criteria the applications are assigned a numerical score according to the ranking criteria.  Applications are funded in order from highest to lowest ranking score in each priority category.

The practice payment is made according to the current payment cost list found in eFOTG, Section 1, Cost Data.


For additional information about the LPCI and how to apply, please contact the local NRCS office in your county (USDA Service Centers). NRCS service centers included in the initiative: Clovis, Fort Sumner, Lovington, Carlsbad, Roswell, Tucumcari, and Portales. 

For more information on EQIP:

For additional information and publications on Lesser Prairie Chickens please visit: