Putting Conservation Easements to Work for Ranchers and Wildlife

When ranchers in the southern Great Plains take part in conservation assistance through the Natural Resources Conservation Service-led Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI), that assistance most often takes the form of time-limited conservation agreements, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). These 3-5 year contracts have proven tremendously valuable in restoring habitat for lesser prairie-chickens and other grassland-dependent wildlife.

They have their limitations though. In a best-case scenario, a landowner finds that the conservation practices they put in place through the short-term conservation agreement greatly benefit his or her ranch operation and bottom line, so that when the contract ends they continue the wildlife-friendly practices. But in reality, once the contract expires, economic issues or myriad other factors can prompt a significant change in land use.

Conservation easements are another voluntary practice in LPCI’s conservation toolbox that can provide long-term benefit to both landowners and wildlife. Read More »