Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) today celebrated the news he just received from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Daniel Ashe per the listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC)
Director Ashe wrote: "Thank you for your letter of June 21, 2013 requesting that the [Service] consider a six-month extension under the Endangered Species Act (Act) on the final listing determination for the lesser prairie-chicken. The Service will soon publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing a six-month extension of the final listing determination for the lesser prairie-chicken through March 30, 2014. Public comments received by the Service since the publication of the proposed rule have highlighted substantial scientific disagreement regarding the sufficiency or accuracy of the available data relevant to the listing proposal for the lesser prairie-chicken. Therefore, as the law allows, the Service is extending the final listing determination for six months in order to solicit additional data and information that will help to clarify these issues."
Congressman Huelskamp made the following statement:
"We welcome Director Ashe's decision to grant our request to extend for six months the comment period for the potential LPC listing under the Endangered Species Act. This is a positive development in our demonstration of the effectiveness of voluntary efforts by landowners, businesses, and state and local governments to handle any LPC issue. I remain confident that the regional voluntary plan, if fairly reviewed, will be sufficient to avoid the unnecessary listing of the LPC and protect the rights of individual landowners and the states. An LPC listing would pose a grave threat to many businesses across the Big First Congressional district, especially our farmers, ranchers, and energy companies."
Rep. Huelskamp and his staff have repeatedly met with FWS director Ashe and other FWS officials over the last six months, emphasizing the role that state and local officials and private landowners are playing in protecting the species. He continues to work with Representatives who have LPC habitat in their districts to ensure that both the bird and the rights of landowners are protected. He looks forward to the FWS recognizing the adequacy of these efforts that will preclude the necessity of a federal listing of the species.