Public Forum Serves Up Lesser Prairie Chicken in WoodwardThu, 08 Sep 2011 06:07:27 CDT
The first of two Oklahoma forums featuring the Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service was held in Woodward Wednesday evening, as Dan Ashe came at the invitation of Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe to discuss the possible endangerment listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken in the southern Great Plains. Ashe heard from state officials, utilities and other wind farm interests, oil and gas companies and farmers and ranchers- all raising concerns about the devastating impact that such a listing could bring.
Ashe will hear similar stories in Edmond on Thursday morning as he appears at the University of Central Oklahoma in a second forum on the same subject. (The picture here is of dan Ashe, as he took notes during the multiple presentations made to him.)
Several key themes emerged as the meeting unfolded on Wednesday night- including:
Agriculture, wind farm interests and oil and gas companies agree- listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken would be devastating to the five state region.
The Director of the Federal Govt agency involved- Dan Ashe with the Fish and Wildlife Service- downplayed the impact.
Dan Ashe says he heard the fears of a listing in the room of a listing- believes conservation agreements will help alleviate those fears. He promises that the FWS will provide "clarity" as the process moves forward.
The Forum proved there are a lot more questions about the process and who and what will be impacted than there are answers.
The State of Oklahoma has a plan- and is asking the Feds for two years to give it a chance to work as efforts being made to get the tempermental little bird to multiply. In response, Ashe called the Oklahoma proposal a "good faith effort" but added that once the process gets underway- he has to follow a timeline that is mandated within the law or he and the FWS could face court action by environmental activists. Click here to learn more about some of the efforts that several groups have worked on together to help rebuild Lesser Prairie Chicken numbers in the
We have an audio overview of the evening, featuring several of the key players that were present- including Ashe, Oklahoma Secretary of the Environment Gary Sherrer, Amercian Farmers and Ranchers President Terry Detrick, Oklahoma Farm Bureau member Alan Jett and Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese. Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear that report.
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