New Report Confirms LPCI Projects Are Good for Chickens and Ranchers
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Working Lands for Wildlife initiatives strategically implement conservation practices that benefit working lands, the wildlife that live on these lands, and the surrounding local communities. One way NRCS ensures its efforts are making a meaningful and lasting conservation difference is through the multi-agency Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) and its wildlife Conservation Insight series. In January, CEAP published “LPCI Practices Benefit Lesser Prairie-Chickens and Ranchers,” which highlights the win-win conservation solutions implemented by the NRCS-led Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative (LPCI) and its partners.
This report summarizes the findings of five recent studies that assessed conservation practices implemented through LPCI, including removal of encroaching woodland species on rangeland, using prescribed fire, and implementing grazing systems. The studies demonstrate that these practices benefit both lesser prairie-chickens and producers implementing the practices.
The findings are summarized below and the full report is available here.
- Conservation practices applied through the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI) are beneficial to lesser prairie-chickens (LPC), the land, and livestock in the Great Plains.
- Even low levels of woodland encroachment into grasslands have negative consequences for LPC. Woody plant removal (mechanical, chemical, or fire) can improve habitat quality for LPC and other wildlife, and it can benefit livestock by improving forage and soil water availability.
- Ranchers using adaptive grazing management with combinations of decreased stocking densities, larger pastures, longer grazing periods, and targeted forage utilization can balance economic and conservation concerns.
- Managing livestock grazing on areas recovering from prescribed burns (known as “patch-burn” grazing) creates the diverse habitat structure and composition needed to support LPCs through different life stages and provides a more sustainable fuels management strategy than fire-only treatments.
- Targeted application of prescribed practices for LPCs provides the greatest initial conservation benefits and improves the likelihood of success in long-term conservation planning. Land managers who focus on woody plant removal, grazing management, and patch-burn grazing methods within LPC habitat can improve habitat quality, facilitate the persistence of LPC, and promote LPC movement into unoccupied habitats. Expansion of these practices into unoccupied grasslands improves the potential for LPC to successfully recolonize areas from which it was extirpated.