Washington, D.C.—Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today thanked newly confirmed Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Dan Ashe for visiting Woodward and Edmond to hear the concerns of Oklahomans regarding the potential listing of the lesser prairie chicken under the Endangered Species Act. Director Ashe came to Oklahoma at the invitation of Senator Inhofe who hosted these forums along with Oklahoma Secretary of Environment Gary Sherrer.
Senator Inhofe: “I would like to thank FWS Director Dan Ashe for visiting Woodward and Edmond to listen to Oklahomans’ concerns about the potential ESA listing of the lesser prairie chicken. The message at these meetings was clear: a listing could have devastating effects on Oklahoma’s economy, significantly harming agriculture, the construction of highway infrastructure, and many energy development projects, including a number of wind farms.
“I call on Director Ashe to do the right thing and allow the voluntary efforts already underway in Oklahoma to produce positive results before going through with a listing that could be so detrimental to the state’s well-being. Secretary Sherrer’s proposal is a good faith effort that requests an additional year before the listing decision is made so that we can continue to work with private landowners, the Oklahoma legislature and numerous state agencies, including the Oklahoma Wildlife Department and Nature Conservancy, to increase the number of lesser prairie chickens.
“Oklahomans have invested millions of dollars and much time in these good faith voluntary efforts, and, as these forums showed, there is overwhelming support for them across the state. These kinds of private-public partnerships are proven to be far more successful than onerous federal regulations. I hope Director Ashe will listen to our state’s reasonable request and make the right decision.”
Secretary Sherrer: “I appreciate Director Ashe coming to Oklahoma to learn more about the issues surrounding the potential listing of the lesser prairie chicken. At these forums, it was clear that Oklahomans are working towards a common goal of increasing the population, and I urge him to take us up on our request to allow two years for our state’s significant voluntary efforts to produce results.”