Relying on state biologists from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (Wafwa) to protect the little prairie chicken has not worked (“Biden’s Prairie Chicken Filet,” Review & Outlook, June 23).
National wildlife programs are preferable to federal intervention under the Endangered Species Act, but a market solution is preferable to both. There is a market solution for the little prairie chicken, but state agencies have canceled it. As mitigation bankers, we paid a negotiated price to landowners with the most important habitat and achieved more than half of the habitat conservation target in two years – eight in advance. . Wafwa has guessed the fair market prices, wasted a good deal of the money, and is making little progress towards his conservation goals.
The agencies have relied on committees of biologists to carry out real estate transactions requiring land and commercial expertise that they do not have. Energy companies are now facing a total loss of the $ 60 million they contributed.
When the time came, the federal government didn’t have much choice on ESA’s list. The bird population is extremely low – there are only 5,000 small prairie chickens left in eastern New Mexico and western Texas – and the Wafwa program has failed.
The way forward is to trust conservation markets that pay market rates to private landowners to restore and protect vital habitat. Our conservation banks have amassed nearly 100,000 acres of the last of the best land and we’re ready to help.