The Endangered Species Act has been our national law for 50 years this year. Last month we recognized our endangered species including New Mexico’s iconic lesser prairie chicken on Endangered Species Day. However, New Mexico nonprofit CEHMM rightly sounded the alarm bell for the lesser prairie chicken when it noted its population count of less than 230 birds remaining on 26 leks in the Eastern New Mexico shinnery oak region on lands enrolled in its conservation program.
The numbers reported by CEHMM are down 90% in the first quarter of this year alone.
At the same time, another national priority – building renewable energy – is being held back because of ESA and other regulations.
Faster recovery of species and faster approvals of new energy projects go together in the conservation banking program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Conservation banks ensure no net loss of habitat for each project by paying for the expedited recovery of wildlife including this rare grouse species.