I have attended several meetings with fellow elected officials from eastern New Mexico concerning the proposed listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
The latest meeting was Thursday when we met with Todd Willens, Congressman Steve Pearce’s chief of staff. He told us we needed to contact as many citizens as possible to explain what the proposed listing by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service could mean.
Willens said possible consequences include:
• Even on private land the ESA allows government intervention if the land has been in any federal program, such as the Farm Program, CRP, Livestock Feed Program and others.
The USFWS has the authority, via ESA, to review all farming and ranching practices and the right to enforce regulations to protect the chicken in the areas they determine as critical habitat.
• At a minimum, the permitting process for the Ute Water Project will have additional requirements determining the impact of the pipeline on the bird.
At a minimum it will increase the permitting process of all electrical transmitting lines, and renewable energy projects. In many cases the permitting process could make the project too expensive to complete because of the regulations.
Tres Amigas officials are concerned about what the listing of the chicken as a threatened species could mean for their power project.
Willens said there are many additional possible consequences that will impact every local business, directly or indirectly.
Willens has asked as many area residents as possible attend the upcoming USFWS hearing scheduled Tuesday in Roswell.
A 4:30 p.m. rally is set for AVFlight Hangar, 100 Southwest Way, at Roswell Industrial Air Center.
Public comments will be heard at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Performing Arts Center, 64 University Boulevard.
It is imperative that we have a good turnout in order to show our solidarity as citizens opposed to listing the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species.
The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has successfully managed the birds for many years and most believe it can manage them better than the USFWS. But we all need to make our concerns and beliefs known.
Wendell Bostwick is a Curry County commissioner. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org