Washington, DC -(Ammoland.com)- The Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) is continuously accepting landowner applications for 5- and 10-year conservation contracts that will benefit lesser prairie-chickens.
Conservation contract applications would occur on native rangeland and planted grass stands such as expired CRP. To be eligible for the WAFWA program the parcel of land must be at least 160 acres or larger, located within the lesser prairie-chicken range, and not currently enrolled in a federal conservation program.
Landowners who are accepted into the WAFWA program will receive a one-time sign-up incentive payment of up to $5/acre, a one-time payment for any needed restoration practices, and annual payments for implementing management activities for the length of their contract. The payments for restoration and management can be up to 125% of the estimated cost of implementing the prescribed practices. Exact payment rates are based on quality of vegetation and the location of the property relative to high priority lesser prairie-chicken conservation areas.
Landowners enrolled in the program will also receive exemptions from the take prohibitions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the practices prescribed in their management plan. Additional options are available for landowners who wish to forego payments and receive only the ESA take exemptions.
The WAFWA program is fully funded by private industry and landowner participation is needed for companies to operate in compliance with the ESA. More than 45 landowners across the lesser prairie-chicken range submitted applications last spring and WAFWA approved 9 of those offers for funding. The total annual payments for these 9 contracts are over $500,000. The remaining applications are being held on file and will be considered for funding each time additional resources become available.
Funding of conservation contracts are based upon industry development within the range of the lesser prairie chicken. WAFWA does not anticipate funding additional contracts until fall of 2015. At which time, all completed applications on-hand will be ranked according to their value to lesser prairie-chickens. Once all the applications have been ranked by WAFWA, all available funding will be committed to the highest ranking offers. There may be a need to contract additional acres prior to next fall if industry development exceeds projections.
If that happens, the WAFWA will rank all applications on-hand at that time and fund enough applications to meet the additional industry demand. Thus, a landowner’s chances to get into the program increase by applying early rather than waiting until fall 2015. Landowners should contact the nearest regional office of their state wildlife agency to submit an application or find out more information about the program.
The state contacts are as follows:
- Brian Dreher, Colorado Springs, CO (719-227-5220)
- Grant Beauprez, Portales, NM (575-478-2460)
- Calvin Richardson, Canyon, TX (806-651-3014)
- Allan Janus, Stillwater, OK (405-744-9527)
- Brad Odle, Hays, KS (785-623-2945)
About the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA)
WAFWA represents 23 states and Canadian provinces, spanning from Alaska to Texas and Hawaii to Saskatchewan. WAFWA is a strong advocate of the rights of states and provinces to manage fish and wildlife within their borders. It has also been a key organization in promoting the principles of sound resource management and the building of partnerships at the regional, national and international levels in order to enhance wildlife conservation efforts and the protection of associated habitats in the public interest.