Landowner Incentive Program (LIP)

Short and Mixed Grass Prairie Habitat Conservation

landscape of a prairieThe Landowner Incentive Program was created in 2003 to provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners for the restoration, enhancement and protection of habitats important to a wide range of at-risk, non-game wildlife species in the Southern High Plains of Western Oklahoma. Keeping plant and animal populations healthy is the main goal.


The prairies have changed dramatically since the Panhandle and northwestern Oklahoma were first homesteaded. Today there is less habitat because of excessive livestock stocking rates, conversion of native rangeland to cropland and introduction of nonnative forage grasses. Conserving prairie wildlife today, before they become very rare, saves taxpayers’ dollars tomorrow. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


landscape of a pasture

Some human interactions with wildlife species have had huge detrimental effects. Development, intensive grazing have caused a dramatic decline in the number of prairie dogs. This is important due to the number of other animals that rely upon them. Some of these species include: black-footed ferret, lesser prairie chicken and ferruginous hawk, burrowing owl, mountain plover and swift fox.


There are no restrictions to your property rights under this program. You may continue to graze livestock.

Evidence has shown that prairies are capable of supporting both prairie dogs and livestock. The program makes such an arrangement economically and ecologically feasible.

landscape of shortgrass prairieWHY ARE PRAIRIE DOGS IMPORTANT?

The black-tailed prairie dog is a keystone species of the shortgrass prairie. It is important because there is a direct connection between the presence of prairie dog towns and the presence of other species, both plant and animal. One example of this relationship is the black-footed ferret. Its primary food source is the prairie dog. As prairie dog numbers decline, so has the ferret’s. You will not find a ferret in Oklahoma today.

Not only are prairie dogs an important food source, the habitat they create make living quarters and nesting opportunities for burrowing owls, swift foxes, mountain plovers and a variety of reptiles and amphibians that are essential to the environment of the shortgrass prairie.

I’M INTERESTED IN THIS PROGRAM-WHAT DO I DO NOW?sun rising over native grass field

Fill out a simple one-page application. A biologist will contact you to evaluate your land based on existing prairie habitat. If selected, the Wildlife
Department will work with you to create a personalized conservation agreement. The agreement outlines management strategies for prairie dogs and associated species, as well as their habitats.


The Landowner Incentive Program can assist private landowners to help other non-game wildlife that are at risk of declining by restoring and enhancing playa lakes in the southern high plains of Oklahoma. There is cost-share funding to assist landowners in returning playas to native vegetation and incentive payments to return these areas to their natural state. Funding is also available to help in the reduction and removal of salt cedar, an invasive woody plant that is populating our western streams.

The LIP can also help with improvement of Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat by assisting landowners in marking fences to reduce Lesser Prairie Chicken collisions with fences; one of the highest causes of mortality in Lesser Prairie Chicken populations.

For additional information, contact Larry Wiemers: (580) 254-9173 or

Landowner Incentive Program Application (Depending on internet connection this may take several seconds.)

To learn more about the program read the article that appeared in the magazine Outdoor Oklahoma

For information on improvements on Private Lands contact Doug Schoeling: (405) 590-2584 or

Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program