Size: 2,000 acres (easement)
Location: Milnesand, NM
Eco-Region: Level IV Shinnery Sands
Conservation Values: Scenic Open Space, Wildlife Habitat, Cultural/Historical, Agricultural
Type of Project: Lesser Prairie Chicken Conservation Bank (easement)
Date Completed: October 2019
One of our proudest accomplishments in 2019 was the completion of New Mexico’s first Lesser Prairie Chicken Conservation Bank on the Lost Draw Ranch east of Milnesand, NM ─ the result of a two-year effort by a host of partners including: Common Ground Capital, RiverBank Conservation, Tomahawk CB LLC, US Fish & Wildlife Service, landowner Mack Kizer, as well as the New Mexico Land Conservancy (NMLC).
A member of the grouse family, the Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC) is known for its elaborate mating dance performed in communal areas called leks within its preferred grassland habitat. Current estimates are that only 38,000 “chickens” remain within a five-state range which includes a shrinking portion of eastern New Mexico – habitat that also coincides with oil and gas development as well as a prime wind corridor in the southeast part of the state.
The basic concept of the conservation bank is to mitigate or offset the expected impacts to LPC habitat from current and planned energy developments by permanently protecting and then enhancing habitat for the chickens in other areas that are more viable for the species’ long-term conservation. Given the proximity of the Lost Draw Ranch to other currently existing LPC conservation areas such as The Nature Conservancy’s Milnesand Prairie Preserve, the Weaver Ranch and several state-managed LPC conservation areas, establishment of a conservation bank on the Lost Draw Ranch ultimately contributes to the protection of a much larger contiguous area of LPC habitat comprising 60,000 acres.