America’s royalty owners are stewards of our natural resources – not just energy resources, but land, wood and water. A significant percentage of royalty owners are farmers and ranchers, and have lived on their land for generations. Royalty owners believe in seeking balance when it comes to preserving wildlife species and habitat.
Unfortunately, in today’s litigious society, the opportunities for “balance” or common sense are cast aside by legal decisions. In recent years, two so-called environmental groups successfully reached an onerous settlement with the US Fish & Wildlife Service in the implementation of provisions under the Endangered Species Act.
Today, USFWS is operating under onerous legal mandates requiring that they evaluate and determine whether more than 270 separate species should be listed as “endangered” or “threatened” under federal law. And the government must make these determinations by 2017!
Needless to say, as property owners we are interested in preserving and enhancing the value of our property. We fear that the “rush to judgment” on these ESA cases could have a major, chilling effect on the value of our property, while providing minimal protection to the species we are supposedly trying to preserve.
Currently, the most active case involves the lesser prairie chicken, whose five-state habitat includes major oil and gas producing regions in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado.
Landowners Seeking Info on Participation In Programs to Enhance Prairie Chicken Habitat
Landowners (including many royalty owners) in the five-state region that includes the lesser prairie chicken habitat are beginning to learn about options for enrolling acreage under the Range-wide Plan to protect the species and enhance habit.
Will landowners have to do anything proactive to their land or simply allow oil companies to do the habitat protection/enhancement? Will oil companies begin proactively contacting landowners beginning now?
Landowners who take conservation dollars WILL have to implement some form/fashion of habitat improvement, to mitigate the surface/habitat degradation caused by oil/wind/transmission/developers. That will be verified by Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA).
Stakeholders in the effort to protect the species believe landowners will be contacted by a multitude of associations, wildlife groups and individual companies urging their participation.
More information will be forthcoming in the early part of 2014, but for now one of the best resources is the WAFWA website (www.wafwa.org).