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Five Governors Promote Partnership to Protect Prairie Chicken

Associated Press | August 17, 2013

The governors of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas say public-private partnerships involving landowners and developers are the best way to protect the habitat of the lesser prairie chicken.

The five governors sent a letter Aug. 2 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking the agency to not add the bird to the threatened species list, according to the Journal Record newspaper of Oklahoma City. They told the service's director, Dan Ashe, that protecting the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act could slow development of oil and gas and wind energy projects across the Plains.

Clay Pope, the executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, said he agreed with the governors. He said public-private partnerships are beneficial for landowners in the long term, but there can be a short-term cost.

"There are challenges in changing the way you manage your land," he said. "But there are benefits for the land when you manage for wildlife while still trying to produce food and fiber."

In 1996, the five states' wildlife agencies formed a group to determine how to conserve the bird's habitat and in April released a conservation plan that includes monitoring the bird's habitat and population.

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