The Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative
The NRCS provides financial and technical assistance for agricultural producers to voluntarily implement conservation practices that promote healthy grazing lands and benefit the Lesser Prairie-Chicken and other wildlife through the Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative (LPCI). Ranchers and farmers use the assistance provided through LPCI to implement grazing management systems, remove invasive plants, plant grasses and shrubs suitable for rangeland, and plant buffers to reduce soil erosion and improve water quality. In most cases, practices that are good for the bird are good for ranching and can lead to improved rangeland health.
Agricultural producers with land in the Lesser Prairie-Chicken range can gain regulatory predictability if they work with NRCS to voluntarily undertake conservation activities that benefit the bird's population and habitat. An agreement between USDA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) states that ranchers and farmers can receive regulatory assurances from USFWS for up to 30 years for carrying out these voluntary conservation activities regardless of the regulatory status of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. The bird is a candidate under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The following Farm Bill programs help ranchers to improve Lesser Prairie-Chicken habitat: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the newly established Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, which now includes the former Grasslands Reserve Program.
Watch the NRCS video Saving the Lesser Prairie Chicken
- Support sustainable grazing management that results in residual nesting cover and supports native plant communities.
- Increase connectivity of existing lesser prairie chicken habitat.
- Improve weed and invasive species management.
- Reduce tillage on agricultural fields.
- Protect, maintain, and restore large tracts of native oak/tallgrass or sand sagebrush grassland.
- Maintain stability of land use, and conserve shrub-dominated habitats near lek sites.
- Promote use of government programs that provide incentives for development or restoration of habitat on private lands.