New Mexico Candidate Conservation Agreement for the LPC and DSL
**No Longer Accepting Applications**
CEHMM, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are working in cooperation and consultation with land owners and industry in support of conservation measures for the lesser prairie-chicken (LPC) and dunes sagebrush lizard (DSL), also known as the sand dune lizard, through Candidate Conservation Agreements.
CEHMM, BLM, and FWS have worked together to develop a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA) to set up a mechanism to conserve LPC and DSL habitats while the species are still in candidate status. Under the CCA, federal lessees, operators, or permittees that have joined by voluntarily signing a Certificate of Participation (CP) received a high degree of certainty that additional restrictions would not be placed on their otherwise legal activities if either species is listed.
The companion Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) developed by FWS provides incentives for voluntary conservation of species-at-risk on private and state lands. Under the CCAA, a property owner voluntarily commits to implement specific conservation measures on non-federal lands for the species by signing a Certificate of Inclusion (CI). Under the CCAA, if either species is listed, then private landowners receive assurances that additional restrictions would not be placed on their otherwise legal activities. Without regulatory assurances, landowners may be unwilling to initiate conservation measures for these species.
In both cases, signing up under the CCA/CCAA is voluntary. Through enactment of a voluntary program, enrollees can elect to continue participation at their discretion. This translates into enrollees’ prerogative to opt out if they so desire. Leaving participation, however, eliminates the programmatic safeguards that CCAs and CCAAs provide.
Each certificate (CP or CI) addresses additional mitigation measures a participating cooperator agrees to implement on lands described in their certificate. The certificate also places conditions on activities (like drilling permits, rights-of-way, grazing, seismic activity, etc.) that will be required on the cooperator’s lands or minerals.
For oil and gas companies, their certificate requires funds to be contributed to assist in restoration or protection of habitat for the LPC and/or DSL. Based on the amount of contributed funds available, CEHMM, BLM, and FWS work cooperatively with other agencies to determine which habitat improvement projects are of the highest priority to benefit one or both of the species habitats. Using available funds, the team of biologists ranks the proposals and selects the highest priority projects that improve habitat and reduce risk to either species (regardless of land ownership). CEHMM then uses the approved list and contracts with appropriate parties to implement the projects.