CCAs and CCAAs are working. CEHMM’s programs make a difference for the partners, the species.

This Op Ed was written in response to the article titled “” It’s Up to Us to Take Care of Them: New Mexico Landowners Fight to Save Lower Prairie Chicken “published by the Carlsbad Current -Argus on April 9, 2021.

In November 2011, I moved to Carlsbad, New Mexico for a Wildlife Biologist position at CEHMM, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit that has created a wide range of problem-focused programs. that affect both human health and the environment. These projects serve the community, region and state through conservation, education, job creation and research leading to solutions to environmental and technical challenges. Initially my husband and I thought Carlsbad would be a one or two year transition. Through the programs CEHMM has to offer, we have come to love and see Carlsbad as a home to us and our two daughters.

In 2008, CEHMM, in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, finalized agreements that provide a mechanism for conserving the Little Prairie Chicken and the Sagebrush Dune Lizard by bringing together landowners, oil and gas companies and biologists. . These agreements, known as Candidate Conservation Agreements (ACCs) and Candidate Conservation Agreements with Insurance (ACCA) are agreements between landowners, industry, and CEHMM that support the conservation of both species while allowing work to continue on the landscape. Both agreements protect the habitats of Lesser Prairie Chicken and Dune Mugwort on federal and non-federal lands. These voluntary agreements allow CEHMM to develop, coordinate and implement conservation actions that reduce or eliminate threats to the species while allowing landowners and industry to continue working.

Since we first developed these programs, CEHMM has recruited 41 oil and gas operators and 70 local ranchers, totaling approximately 3.6 million acres of land listed across the species’ range in southeastern New Mexico. Among other projects, CEHMM treated approximately 84,000 acres of mesquite and removed over 10,000 acres of dead mesquite skeletons, which created habitat for the little prairie chicken. We have installed around 700 evacuation ramps, which allow mechanisms for animals, such as the Little Prairie Chicken, to escape from the drinking troughs. We replaced 30 waterers and 130 miles of fencing, allowing ranchers and livestock managers to use the landscape more efficiently, improving the species’ habitat. Every year, we intensively review the species and monitor our projects to make sure our program is working. CEHMM team members are in the field every day to work with our partners and registrants to reduce or eliminate threats to small prairie hens and the sagebrush lizard of the dunes. working the same.

Since the mid-1990s, several petitions have been filed to list Dune Mugwort and Prairie Chicken as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In 2012, the US Fish and Wildlife Service withdrew the rule that proposed listing the Sagebrush Lizard, citing CEHMM conservation efforts under CCA / CCAA programs as one of the reasons for the removal ( It is thanks to the efforts of our members and partners and to the work of our CEHMM team on the landscape through conservation programs, that this withdrawal has occurred.

I am often asked why I stay in Carlsbad when my family is 2,000 miles across the country. That is why. I believe in CEHMM’s programs, in the work we do on the ground for the species, and in our partnerships and enlisted people. These agreements work; The CEHMM is making a difference not only for the species but also for our community!

Emily Wirth is the Executive Director of CEHMM, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization located in Carlsbad, NM. For more information on our conservation programs or our Environmental Services division, please visit

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