Lipscomb County, Texas rancher Clay Cooper is the first Texas producer to sign a conservation plan through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) partnership, an agreement with the Department of Interior United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Cooper and other producers partnering with NRCS, are taking advantage of a workable and economically viable solution that will enhance and help protect the lesser prairie-chicken habitat.

The new cooperative conservation effort is a voluntary program.

Cooper and other producers will receive assurances for up to 30 years exempting them from any incidental take of the lesser prairie-chicken to implement and maintain conservation practices in a conservation plan. WLFW participants can proceed with planned activities knowing they are assured coverage of potential incidental take of the lesser prairie-chicken.

“NRCS has trained professionals with skills and guidance I needed,” says Cooper.  “They are not the Big Bad Wolf.”

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Essentially, a landowner or producer with land in the lesser prairie-chicken range works with the local NRCS office to determine if habitat on the property is suitable or can be improved to benefit the lesser prairie-chicken.