for construction, operations and maintenance
in Lesser Prairie Chicken Range
Threat avoidance & minimization measures and
additional conservation strategies for Lesser Prairie chicken.
At the same time that the USFWS designated the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species (May 2014), the USFWS also implemented a special 4 (d) rule that endorsed a comprehensive management plan that was previously developed by the five (5) respective wildlife agencies from the Lesser Prairie Chicken states: Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado. This voluntary plan, known as the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan (hearafter, referred to as RWP) was designed to implement “threat avoidance and minimization measures” as well as “conservation and restoration strategies” to restore the species. A copy of the RWP can be obtained at the following link:
Additionally, prior to USFWS’s listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species (May 2014), oil and gas companies could enroll oil & gas leases and pipelines into a voluntary program to help conserve the lesser prairie-chicken. The Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (hereafter refered to as the O&G CCAA) provided industry with predictability for their operations should the lesser prairie-chicken become listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. When the prairie chicken was listed, new CCAA enrollments ceased. However, because of a Sept. 1, 2015 federal court decision that vacated protection of the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act, the enrollment for O&G CCAA has now been re-opened for new enrollments of oil and gas leases and pipelines.
The O&G CCAA provides industry with predictability for their operations should the lesser prairie-chicken be listed in the future as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. More detailed information regarding the O&G CCAA for Lesser Prairie Chicken can be found at the following links:
The RWP also implements a mitigation system that generates conservation funding from enrollment fees charged to various industries and infrastructure development. Examples of these activities include: Oil & gas well drilling, construction of pipelines and compressor stations, construction (overhead or buried) of electrical transmission lines, construction of roads, construction of wind power turbines and associated facilities, and construction of towers (meteorological, cellular, etc.).
For all new construction, operations and maintenance under industry enrollments for either the RWP or O&G CCAA, the following avoidance and minimization measures are essentially the same.
Avoidance, Minimization and Conservation Measures
• Consult the CHAT website (http://kars.ku.edu/maps/sgpchat/) to confirm which category a site is in and the survey/lek status. Consult data from the CHAT in locating new facilities to minimize impacts and mitigation costs.
• Areas within CHAT 1-3 require surveys for LEPC leks or must be treated as occupied.
• All planned impacts on areas within 1.25 miles of known LEPC leks (as defined on the CHAT tool) must be surveyed for complete coverage.
• CHAT 4 does not require surveys and breeding season stipulations are not required unless developments overlap existing lek buffers.
• If unsurveyed or if leks are present within 1.25 miles, breeding season (March 1 and July 15) stipulations apply.
• No 24-hour operations where personnel are present, but machinery can run. Where personnel must work, avoid the time period between 3 am and 9 am.
• Muffle all newly constructed permanent facilities to 75 dB at 30 ft. Pre-existing facilities do not require muffling. Drilling and work-over rigs or other construction equipment are not considered permanent facilities.
• Bury any new power lines.
• Avoid off road travel in rangeland or planted grass (e.g. land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program or similar) within 1.25 miles of a lek recorded as active once within the previous five years. Unsurveyed areas must be treated as occupied with an active lek.
• Note: Any participating company can conduct new construction, operations and maintenance including work-overs or recompletions and maintenance where breeding season stipulations apply if these activities occur after 9 am and before 3 am during March 1 – July 15.
• Mitigate for new development as required in the CCAA or WCA agreement as appropriate. For information about estimated and actual mitigation costs, payment and timelines, contact Mike Houts(WAFWAGIS@wafwa.org ) with maps and descriptions of new developments.
• Where practical, utilize common rights of way for all infrastructure to minimize impacts and mitigation costs.
• Where practical, utilize pre-existing impact buffers (i.e. site along roads, power lines, or near other wells or infrastructure) or low quality habitat (e.g. cropland) for location of new facilities.
• Where applicable, revegetate using native species that meet NRCS range-planting requirements. These include species like little bluestem, sand bluestem, sideoats grama, etc. Consult the NRCS website for more info on practice code 550.
• Mark new fences within ¼ mile of known leks or in areas that are not surveyed. (http://www.suttoncenter.org/pages/fence_marking_instructions)
• Install escape ramps in open water sources or vertical-sided spill containment barriers that may hold water. (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_041023.pdf)
• For specific questions pertaining to either RWP or O&G CCAA, contact Sean Kyle (firstname.lastname@example.org, 806-252-2766) or Bill Van Pelt (email@example.com, 602-717-5066).
• For general questions regarding energy development in the range of Lesser Prairie Chicken, contact Rich Fuller, Wildlife Biologist – Energy Emphasis, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation (Ph. 405-397-1599 firstname.lastname@example.org).