TPWD hoping to hold off Feds

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says itâ??s being proactive in finding ways to protect the habitat of the lesser prairie chicken.

They hope their efforts will preclude action by the Federal Government to list the chicken as "threatened" on the Endangered Species List.

Theyâ??ve been working on a Range Management plan and hope to enlist local landowners to be part of the Candidate Conservation Agreement and Assurances program.

By following certain guidelines, landowners can conserve the land and manage it to benefit the lesser prairie chicken.

Thatâ??s what Jeff Haley does.

Heâ??s a Gray County Rancher and Commissioner.ã?? His property sits near Pampa and Alan Reed. Heâ??s being singled out by Texas Parks and Wildlife as a superior land manager.

They invited the media out to his property Thursday to show his methods.

Biologist Jeff Bonner says, "Haley is an outstanding Range Manager. He makes his living growing beef. And Understands how important it is to grow and maintain his grasses for long-term sustainability."

Haley says he doesnâ??t want the chicken to be listed.

He says, "I wouldnâ??t survive a take. If I were found guilty of a take of a federal endangered speciesâ?¦it costs millions of dollars. I couldnâ??t defend myself. Legal fees, finesâ?¦The assurance of that protection to me took some of the risk out of it.

Ironically, a CREZ line runs through Haleyâ??s property, owned by Cross Texas Transmission. He didnâ??t have a choice, as eminent domain power was used. But the transmission towers upset the Prairie Chicken.

Haley says, "Itâ??s one of those things the Federal Government sees thatâ??s encroaching on this species and they take that into account when they look at a listingâ?¦If itâ??s listed my ranch will be in the critical habitat."