Lesser Prairie Chicken listing could change

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GARDEN CITY, Kansas – An amendment to the National Defense Bill could remove the Lesser Prairie Chicken from the threatened species list.  The amendment passed through the House on Friday.

“That listing has bearing on the military.  How, when, where they can train and that kind of thing, because a lot of their facilities lie within the area that is designated lesser prairie chicken habitat,” explained President of the Kansas Natural Resource Coalition Shawn Tasset.

It goes along with what opponents have been arguing since last year- the listing hurts industry.

“It’s just not conducive to good development,” Tasset said.

Mitigation fees for producing or developing on land that’s considered to be a Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat are so costly, they’ve already kept three wind farms from coming to Southwest Kansas in the last year.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service was unavailable to comment on the vote, but in a news release sharing their views on the listing they say, “The service has considered the Lesser Prairie-Chicken… to be a species in trouble for the past 15 years. Its population is in rapid decline, due largely to habitat loss and fragmentation and the ongoing drought in the southern great plains. “

But opponents say increased regulation won’t fix the problem.

“The drought.  It’s not anything that’s within our control,” said Research Analyst for the KNRC Sheila Ellis, “When it rains they’ll come back.”

Opponents of the bill are hopeful that the Senate will pass the amendment, saying they believe Senators Roberts and Moran will likely vote in their favor.

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