Male lesser prairie-chickens exhibit competitive mating displays.
Photo credit: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Fish & Wildlife Lists Lesser Prairie-Chicken a Threatened Species

Four days before the March 31 deadline, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the lesser prairie-chicken (LPC) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Despite the ongoing conservation efforts of western states, industry and landowners, the FWS believed that the rapid and severe decline of the species' population necessitated protection under the Endangered Species Act.

However, in recognition of those efforts FWS created an "unprecedented use of a special 4(d) rule [that] will allow [Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas] to continue to manage conservation efforts for the species...that are covered under the [WAFWA] range-wide conservation plan."

Want to learn more? Visit our Critical Habitat Management Portal.

Island night Lizard. Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Navy Revives Island Night Lizard

Listed in 1977, the island night lizard has been listed as an endangered species almost since the Endangered Species Act's creation in 1973.

However, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) was pleased to announced Monday, March 31 that has removed the lizard from the endangered species list after decades of conservation and restoration work undertaken by the FWS, National Park Service and an unlikely partner - the U.S. Navy.

Read the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's press release.


Conservation Tax Incentive Approved

On April 3, the Senate Finance Committee approved the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act to renew tax incentives for bio-fuel production and the enhanced conservation easement incentive, which expired in January.

The conservation tax incentive is a meaningful benefit for farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who donate conservation easements to protect important natural and historic lands.

Click here to learn more about EXPIRE and read a thorough overview of conservation easements.

Stowe, VT. Photo credit: Ari Gersen

More Conservation Easement News

Conservation easements must be authorized by state legislation for landowners to place this kind of restriction on their land. Thus, each state can make their own rules.
North Dakota legislation restricts conservation easements to last for only 99 years, which prevents landowners from taking a charitable deduction for the donation of a conservation easement on their federal taxes. The IRS requires conservation easements be in perpetuity to qualify. This week, Kansas Senate Bill No. 323 would have limited the time duration for conservation easements to 50 years- resulting in the same disqualification. But, was voted down 16- 23.
The Vermont Land Trust recently withdrew legislation proposing to amend the Vermont conservation easement law. The proposed bill would have created a committee and process for amending conservation easements, but faced opposition from landowners who responded they would not donate a conservation easement on their land if it could be removed. 

Photo credit: USDA.

Work Begins on Implementing the Farm Bill

The USDA has made Disaster Assistance Programs their priority in implementing the Farm Bill. Livestock, honeybee, and fruit grower programs will be ready for enrollment beginning April 15.

Applications are currently being accepted for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Funding is being disbursed to help to prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten America's agriculture economy and the environment.

See the full Farm Bill implementation schedule here.

Help preserve vital natural resources and rural communities today!
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US Department of the Interior and USDA released the final phase of a national interagency strategy to fight wildfires, restore forests and fortify communities that surround woodlands.

Read about the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy here.
Texas Agricultural Land Trust put together a beautiful series of posters on Facebook and Twitter inspired by their conservation easement donors.
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