Concurrent Resolution

Concurrent Resolution: Adopted by the State of Oklahoma, House of Representatives the 7th day of April, 2011:

“WHEREAS, the Lesser Prairie Chicken is a grassland obligate game bird that occurs in the mixed-grass and short-grass native rangelands of Northwest Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Panhandle; and

WHEREAS, populations of the Lesser Prairie Chicken, an iconic symbol of the mixed-grass prairie and an indicator species whose presence attests to the overall health of the grassland community in which it occurs, have been declining, rangewide, for many years; and

WHEREAS, the Lesser Prairie Chicken, a candidate for listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened or endangered under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1976, due to its recently elevated listing priority status, is likely to be listed as threatened in the near future; and

WHEREAS, the impact of listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken is largely unknown, but has potential to negatively impact the economy of the area in which it occurs by imposing additional regulations or restrictions on activities occurring within the range of the Lesser Prairie Chicken, which may hinder or curtail activities with potential to boost local economies; and

WHEREAS, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the agency with management authority over the Lesser Prairie Chicken, has the ability to work cooperatively with Oklahoma State University, Panhandle State University, the University of Oklahoma including the Sutton Avian Research Center, nongovernmental organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, landowners, and other state and federal agencies to address additional research needs to identify factors contributing to the decline of the Lesser Prairie Chicken; and

WHEREAS, the Office of the Secretary of the Environment has the ability to coordinate the activities of the agencies within this state, and to bring together agencies, researchers, landowners and industry leaders to cooperatively guide the efforts to restore Lesser Prairie Chicken populations while encouraging responsible development; and

WHEREAS, cooperative conservation of the Lesser Prairie Chicken is desirable in order to help restore healthy populations of the Lesser Prairie Chicken; and

WHEREAS, through a cooperative management effort including all stakeholders, which addresses the needs and concerns of each while fostering communication, cooperation and participation by the broad community with an interest in Lesser Prairie Chicken research, management, and conservation, the decline in Lesser Prairie Chicken populations can be minimized or curtailed in areas throughout their five-state range in a manner that is compatible with economic development.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
OF THE 1ST SESSION OF THE 53RD OKLAHOMA LEGISLATURE, THE SENATE
CONCURRING THEREIN:

THAT the House of Representatives of the State of Oklahoma directs the Secretary of the Environment and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, working with Oklahoma State University, Panhandle State University, Sutton Avian Research Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, landowners, and other stakeholders to identify research needs and develop a conservation plan for Lesser Prairie Chickens in Oklahoma to protect, enhance, and restore their habitat while also addressing other factors leading to their decline.

THAT the Office of the Secretary of the Environment and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation continue to participate in the ongoing five-state effort to inform management and development decisions which have the potential to impact Lesser Prairie Chickens and their habitats.

THAT the Office of the Secretary of the Environment and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation continue to diligently seek to identify ways to incentivize Lesser Prairie Chicken and habitat conservation, and encourage responsible development.”