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LPC Listing Harmful To Economy, Says KS Governor Brownback

Gov. Sam Brownback’s letter to Don Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, dated Jan. 30, 2014

Dear Director Ashe:

The state of Kansas has much at stake in the Service’s decision regarding the lesser prairie chicken. The listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species is not justified at this time, and doing so would negatively impact the state’s agriculture and energy sectors in ways that can be avoided consistent with the interests of conservation and protection of the species. For those reasons, Kansas will be a strong advocate for independent judicial review of any decision to list the lesser prairie chicken.

Over half of the lesser prairie chicken population is typically located in Kansas, which also provides half of the occupied range of the species. Indeed, as recently as 2006, the Kansas population was at optimal levels. As is well known, Kansas and the other four states that are home to the lesser prairie chicken have experienced three consecutive years of severe drought. The recent decline in bird numbers is no doubt directly linked to this unique weather event.

With continued abatement of the drought, bird numbers are likely to recover. In addition, Kansas and the other states in the range have developed a multi-state Range-wide Conservation Plan, which facilitates recovery strategies as a substitute to the listing of the species. Additional Kansas stakeholder groups have proposed further strategies such as the Habitat Exchange Program, and multiple voluntary strategies and options like these will promote species recovery.

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