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Conservation Partnerships

The sense most people have is that there is nothing but strife and disagreement between conservationists/environmentalists and industry and private landowners. This is not always true, and in fact, it is often untrue. I thought I'd give a short illustration on this post by highlighting the efforts to protect the Lesser Prairie Chicken - a beautiful bird that is threatened in the Great Plains.

These birds are a long time inhabitant of parts of Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico primarily, but their habitat has been deeply affected by many factors. There are the obvious ones like habitat destruction from things like agriculture, but also less obvious ones like lack of natural wildfire. Many natural processes involve fire (shortleaf pine propagation in Missouri is an example), and since people tend to not want their land and dwellings burned, it's usually suppressed, or at least the attempt is made to do so. So, people who care about preserving species and land, for whatever reason, sometimes join together to fight these forces. Realistically, none of the stakeholders get all of what they want, but by working together they get some of what they want.

The Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) is an example of these types of efforts. If you dive into the details, you realize that it's not been a completely seamless process. Stakeholders from petroleum, agriculture, environmental groups, scientific groups, government groups, and conservation groups have worked together to protect the LPC and protect their other individual interests. When you look at the details of the interactions, what you see is the folks that are in the areas where LPC's have existed pretty much all seem to truly have some level of true concern about the species and habitat.

But, what you also see is that as you move out to state capitols, and then further to Washington D.C. where politics and lobbying groups exert their influence is where the process has trouble. If you put local oil and gas folks, farmers & ranchers, local representatives of the Nature Conservancy and such around a table working on solutions, they make progress. When lobbyists and bureaucrats insert their input, things don't go as well.

So, it's important to get involved in these types of efforts and to let your opinion be heard - whatever it is. The opinions of individuals do matter in these things, even though we are often led to believe otherwise.

To read more about the LPC and efforts to conserve them, here's a good starting point through the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.


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