U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) made the following statement today on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to list the lesser prairie chicken, found in five states including New Mexico, as a threatened species:
"New Mexico communities, oil and gas producers, and farmers and ranchers deserve credit for implementing voluntary habitat conservation measures through the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances process, USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency, and the Department of Game and Fish's Range Wide Plan.
"While those proactive measures are tremendously beneficial, they unfortunately did not come in time to reverse the rapid and severe decline of the lesser prairie chicken.
"I am pleased that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recognized the work done through these voluntary agreements, which means that the landowners and developers who are participating in the voluntary conservation agreements will not be impacted by the listing with any additional regulatory requirements.
"I'll continue to monitor the situation closely and work to ensure that New Mexico gets credit for the good work that has been done in the state to proactively restore habitat."
A number of on-the-ground programs have been implemented over the last decade across the lesser prairie chicken's five-state range to conserve and restore its habitat and improve its status. A summary of those programs are available on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's website.