Chamber encouraging large turnout for Fish and Wildlife hearing - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Chamber encouraging large turnout for Fish and Wildlife hearing

Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Source: Wikipedia) Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Source: Wikipedia)

The Lubbock Chamber of commerce is encouraging a strong turnout tonight from area businesses for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's public hearing regarding the proposed listing of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken as a threatened species. The hearing will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center.

"It's vitally important that the business community and economic stakeholders turnout for this hearing," said Carlos Morales, Lubbock Chamber of Commerce chairman. "The Chamber's concern is that a threatened listing under the Endangered Species Act would have a significant impact on the economy of West Texas."

Morales believes that some of the industries that could be hurt by the listing of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken as a threatened species include oil, gas and wind energy development and exploration in the region as well as farming and ranching. The Chamber is going to urge that existing voluntary conservation efforts be considered instead of more federal regulation.

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Lesser Prairie-Chicken's occupied range covers more than 18 million acres of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado and the Chamber says that despite recent droughts the Prairie-Chicken population is on the rise and they feel that no new federal regulation is needed.

"We applaud existing efforts of farmers and ranchers to conserve Lesser Prairie-Chicken habitat through such programs as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program and Grassland Reserve Program," said Morales. "Similarly, we're very encouraged that several energy industry groups are proposing conservation programs."

The Fish and Wildlife Service is taking comment on this proposal to give stakeholders a chance to offer their concerns and to aid in the analysis that will lead to a final decision. The hearing will also serve as an opportunity for affected individuals to hear directly from the Fish and Wildlife Service and other officials about what a listing could mean for them and why it is being proposed.

KCBD is going to talk with local industries that might be affected as well as experts on the Lesser Prairie-Chicken and we will bring you what we find out at 4, 5, 6 and 10.

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