The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) Friday 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 FWS, 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.
U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce issued the following statement:
“I want to commend FWS for working with the five range states to approve the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Oil and Gas CCAA,” said 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.”