Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2023
(AUSTIN) — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar today alerted stakeholders of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to delay implementation of a final rule listing the lesser prairie-chicken as an endangered species. The endangered species listing will impact private landowners and industry stakeholders, including those in energy and agriculture, in the Texas Panhandle.
Earlier this month, FWS issued a final rule listing the northern and southern populations of the lesser prairie-chicken as endangered and provided a tailored rule for the northern population. In this notice, FWS pushed the effective date of the rule from Jan. 24, 2023, to March 27, 2023.
Texas entered into a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) in 2006 to assist private landowners and industry stakeholders in managing lesser prairie-chicken habitat. As part of the CCAA, the federal government assured participants that it would refrain from imposing additional regulatory burdens if the species was listed as endangered. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) continues to administer the CCAA and will enroll participants until the effective date of the rule.
“I encourage private landowners and industry stakeholders to contact the TPWD’s Panhandle Division to inquire about enrolling in the CCAA and complying with FWS’ new rule,” Hegar said. “Although farmers and ranchers have led the way on voluntary conservation efforts to protect the lesser prairie-chicken for years, FWS arbitrarily decided these efforts are insufficient.
“While FWS’ rule delay will give stakeholders more time to plan, the rule itself continues a troubling trend of federal attempts to strangle Texas’ energy and agriculture industries. Texas leads the nation in energy production and remains one of the nation’s top agriculture-producing states, and I am committed to keeping it that way. I look forward to working with our state and federal partners to balance efforts to increase the lesser prairie-chicken population with the need to protect Texas energy producers, farmers and ranchers from burdensome federal overreach.”