Habitat Conservation
Assistance Network
Proactive Conservation for Working Lands

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 »