USFWS approves lesser prairie-chicken Habitat Conservation Plan for Great Plains renewable energy development

State & Regional

(Photo provided by Texas Tech University)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (PRESS RELEASE) — The following is a press release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved LPC Conservation, LLC’s habitat conservation plan (HCP) and associated incidental take permit. The HCP is designed to minimize and offset impacts to the lesser prairie-chicken from renewable energy development in the Great Plains.  

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires all incidental take permits (ITPs) to include HCPs, which describe the anticipated effects of a proposed taking and how those impacts will be minimized or mitigated.  

The HCP will cover wind and solar project development as well as transmission lines across the lesser prairie-chicken’s range in Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. LPC Conservation, LLC’s HCP will fully offset impacts from enrolled projects while providing regulatory certainty for the development of renewable energy across its range, should the lesser prairie-chicken become listed under the ESA in the future.  

Along with the final HCP, the Service is publishing a final Environmental Assessment (EA), which evaluates the effects of issuing the ITP and addresses comments received during the public comment period. Full implementation of the HCP is expected to potentially affect 500,000 acres of suitable lesser prairie-chicken habitat. Under the plan, industry participants will work with LPC Conservation, LLC, the permit administrator, to ensure projects minimize impacts to the lesser prairie-chicken, and mitigation is in place to offset their project’s impacts to the species and its habitat on a voluntary basis. The HCP and ITP will be in effect for 30 years.  

The final HCP and EA can be found here: www.fws.gov/southwest/es/LPC.html.  

The lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) is a species of prairie grouse that occupies a five-state range including portions of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. Lesser prairie-chicken populations require large tracts of relatively intact native grasslands and prairies to thrive.  

On June 1, 2021, the Service released its proposal to list two distinct population segments of the lesser prairie-chicken under the ESA. The Service will make a final determination on the proposed listing by June 1, 2022. 

For more than two decades, the Service has prioritized efforts with our partners to employ all available tools to facilitate the conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken. Working with others is essential to protecting ecosystems that benefit wildlife and economies. The Service regularly engages conservation partners, the public, landowners, government agencies, and other stakeholders in our ongoing effort to identify innovative strategies for conserving species like the lesser prairie-chicken. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.

(Press release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region)

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