Despite years of work, planning, research, negotiation and boots-on-the-ground effort by landowners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has opted to list the lesser prairie-chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

However, in a nod to all that work and cooperation by landowners, the listing takes into account previous conservation plans that landowners voluntarily have undertaken to provide habitat for the bird.

“In response to the rapid and severe decline of the lesser prairie-chicken, FWS announced the final listing of the species as threatened under the ESA, as well as a final special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA that will limit regulatory impacts on landowners and businesses from this listing,” FWS said in a news release.

“In recognition of the significant and ongoing efforts of states and landowners to conserve the lesser prairie-chicken, this unprecedented use of a special 4(d) rule will allow the five range states (Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado)  to continue to manage conservation efforts for the species and avoid further regulation of activities such as oil and gas development and utility line maintenance that are covered under the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (WAFWA) range-wide conservation plan,” FWS says.