The Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative is a program that is made available to landowners of Oklahoma through cooperative efforts between the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). Efforts funded through the initiative are hoped to restore and increase the amount of suitable habitat for the lesser prairie chicken, and simultaneously, benefit farmers and ranchers who are interested in the program.
The initiative will provide assistance to help with the cost of selected practices. Counties offering signups through the initiative include the following: Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Cimarron, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Roger Mills, Texas, Washita, Woods, and Woodward.
Brush management, prescribed grazing, upland wildlife habitat management, range planting, prescribed burning, firebreaks, and watering facilities are some of the practices that will be administered through this program and are eligible for cost-share assistance.
Although the lesser prairie chicken is the primary focus of this program, farmers and ranchers benefit in that, “What’s good for the chicken is good for the cow,” which is a common phrase used to highlight the fact that management strategies used to benefit lesser prairie chickens will benefit diverse species.
Lesser prairie chickens thrive in areas with a patchy grazing pattern and grazing at a low to moderate rate allows some of last year’s grasses to be carried into the following year providing prairie chickens with suitable amounts of cover for nesting structure. Grazing in this manner will yield a higher amount of quality grasses, increase the odds of making it through a drought, and require ranchers to use less supplemental feeding.
How to participate
Counties offering signups through the initiative include the following: Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Cimarron, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Roger Mills, Texas, Washita, Woods, and Woodward.
Through a contribution agreement with NRCS the ODWC will assist with LPCI by providing outreach and technical expertise, preparing habitat management plans and assisting in the monitoring efforts. For more information on LPCI contact Matt Fullerton with the Wildlife Department at (580) 571-5820 or visit the NRCS’ website athttp://www.ok.nrcs.usda.gov.