CEHMM - Conservation Measures

Conservation Measures

Ranchers: The following conservation actions are common to all participants, as applicable, based upon species and species habitat present on the enrolled properties:

1. Cooperate with CEHMM in completion of the CP. After the Participating Landowner agrees to implement all conservation measures agreed upon by the BLM and FWS and/or designee, the Participating Landowner will sign the CP. The CP becomes effective upon the last concurrence signature of BLM, FWS, or CEHMM. The CCA is valid until the end of the agreement term, or until the end of their participation in this CCA as documented in the CP, either through expiration or termination.

2. Improve or maintain conservation lands as suitable LPC and/or DSL habitat for the “Duration of Conservation” in the CP. Lands can be enrolled under the CCA and the permit whether or not the Participating Landowner receives funding from CEHMM or other sources. Technical assistance is available from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and FWS to develop plans to improve and maintain habitat for the LPC and/or DSL. Financial assistance for the implementation of these plans may be available through conservation programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Food Security Act of 1985, as amended (Farm Bill) and/or the FWS’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (PFW) depending on annual funding. The CP will identify, among other things, suitable LPC/DSL habitat to be maintained on the conservation lands and the duration that this habitat will be maintained.

3. Adhere to stipulations on surface activities required by the BLM Special Status Species Resource Management Plan Amendment on oil and gas lease developments on enrolled lands at a minimum.

4. Adhere to rangeland and grazing stipulations required by the BLM Special Status Species Resource Management Plan Amendment at a minimum for ranch operations.

5. Allow CEHMM, FWS, and/or NMDGF personnel, with prior notification, to survey enrolled lands for the presence of LPCs and/or DSLs and for habitat suitability for these species.

6. Allow CEHMM personnel or their designee access to the enrolled lands for purposes of monitoring LPC and/or DSL populations and habitat.

7. Allow CEHMM personnel or their designee access to the enrolled lands for purposes of compliance monitoring of conservation commitment.

8. Use herbicides for shinnery oak management only when habitat goals cannot be achieved by other means, including grazing system management.

a. No herbicide treatments will be applied in dune complexes (NRCS sand hills ecological sites) and corridors between dune complexes. Maintain an application buffer around dune complexes of 100 m to ensure dunal stability.

b. Prohibit tebuthiuron spraying within 500 m of DSL habitat. In addition, for DSL, prohibit spraying in dune complexes or within corridors, which connect dune complexes that are within 2,000 m of each other. All application of tebuthiuron will be by a licensed applicator and in accordance with the New Mexico supplemental label for wildlife habitat.

c. In conducting such treatments, the goal will be to temporarily reduce shinnery oak competition with grasses, allowing grass cover to increase naturally. Herbicides should be used at dosages that would set back (defoliate) shinnery oak, not kill it.

d. Large block and linear application of herbicides will be avoided. Application should follow the natural patterns on the landscape such that only patches needing treatment are treated.

e. For LPC, herbicide treatment should not be applied around large oak motts, and within 1.5 miles of active lek sites.

f. Post-treatment grazing management is essential to success. Grazing will be deferred through at least two consecutive growing seasons after treatment. If vegetation response to treatment has been hindered due to drought or other factors additional deferments to ensure success of the treatment may be required.

g. Experimental treatments outside these guidelines may occur with the approval by FWS. Experimental treatments must be part of a quantitative research design to study vegetation response, viability of shinnery oak, drift, sub-surface spread, the interaction of herbicide treatment and/or grazing management and the response of LPC and DSL to various treatments.

9. For livestock ranches, implement grazing management plans intended to move towards meeting specific habitat goals for the LPC and/or DSL as defined in the Collaborative Conservation Strategies for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken and Sand Dune Lizard in New Mexico on individual ranches. This may include adjustment of stocking rates, rest-rotation patterns, grazing intensity and duration, avoidance of nesting areas during nesting season, and contingency plans for varying prolonged weather patterns including drought.

10. No leasing of lands within the Participating Landowner’s designated conservation lands to wind power development (including any appurtenant turbine towers, roads, fences, or power lines).

11. No leasing any lands within the conservation lands to oil and gas development (including roads, fences, or power lines), where the private land holder has discretion.

12. No conversion of conservation lands to crop production (sod busting) or development as part of maintaining existing LPC and/or DSL habitat.

13. Avoid construction of new roads. If unavoidable, route and construct new roads, pipelines and power lines outside of occupied and suitable, unoccupied shinnery dune complexes as delineated by the FWS, BLM, NMDGF, and/or designees.

14. Provide or allow provision for escape ramps in all open water sources.

15. Install fence makers along fences that cross through occupied habitat within 2 miles of an active lek.

16. Avoid well pad construction within 1.5 miles of an active lek, unless reviewed and approved by CEHMM and FWS.

17. Initiate control of shinnery oak only after coordinating with and gaining approval from CEHMM and FWS concerning control procedures so they will not be detrimental to LPC and/or DSL.

18. Any trenches dug on enrolled property will have escape ramps placed at the ends and approximately every 500 feet to allow for LPC/DSL escape. Trenches may alternatively be covered to avoid entrapment and should be inspected three times a day.

19. Provide information on annual basis to CEHMM on implementation of conservation commitment, observations of LPC/DSL on enrolled property, and any mortality of either species observed.

In addition to the conservation actions described above, the enrollee must also agree to the following conservation measures: Lesser Prairie-Chicken

  • Install escape ramps in all open water sources.
  • Remove invasive brush (non-shinnery oak).
  • Maintain current grazing practices to continue to benefit LPC and livestock operation.
  • Remove legacy well markers.
  • Reseed or inter-seed disturbed areas.
  • Allow LPC surveys.
  • Install fence markers within two miles of an active lek.

Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

Allow DSL surveys.

  • No herbicide treatments will be applied in dune complexes (NRCD sand hills ecological sites) and corridors between dune complexes. Maintain an application buffer around dune complexes of 100 m to ensure dunal stability.
  • Prohibit tebuthiuron spraying within 500 m of DSL habitat. In addition, for DSL, prohibit spraying in dune complexes or within corridors, which connect dune complexes that are within 2,000 m of each other. All application of tebuthiuron will be by a licensed applicator and in accordance with the New Mexico supplemental label for wildlife habitat.
  • Remove unnecessary development (non-functioning power lines, fences etc.) from dunes, as funding is available.

Industry: Companies who sign up under the CCA/CCAA agree to a list of conservation measures detailed in their respective CP (for federal operations) and CI (for state and private operations). These measures include:

1. To the extent determined by the BLM representative at the plan of development stage, all infrastructures supporting the development of a well (including roads, power lines, and pipelines) will be constructed within the same corridor.

2. On enrolled parcels that contain inactive wells, roads and/or facilities that are not reclaimed to current standards, the Participating Cooperator shall remediate and reclaim their facilities within three years of executing the CP, unless the Cooperator can demonstrate they will put the facilities back to beneficial use for the enrolled parcel(s). If an extension is requested by the Cooperator, they shall submit a detailed plan (including dates) and receive BLM approval prior to the three year deadline. All remediation and reclamation shall be performed in accordance with BLM requirements and be approved in advance by the Authorized Officer.

3. Allow no new surface occupancy within 30 meters of areas designated as occupied or suitable, unoccupied DSL dune complexes or within delineated shinnery oak corridors. The avoidance distance is subject to change based on new information received from peer reviewed science.

4. Utilize alternative techniques to minimize new surface disturbance when required and as determined by the BLM representative at the plan of development stage.

5. Provide escape ramps in all open water sources under the Participating Cooperator’s control.

6. Install fence markings along fences owned, controlled, or constructed by the Participating Cooperator that cross through occupied habitat within two miles of an active LPC lek.

7. Bury new power lines that are within two (2) miles of LPC lek sites active at least once within the past five years (measured from the lek). The avoidance distance is subject to change based on new information received from peer reviewed science.

8. Bury new power lines that are within one (1) mile of historic LPC lek sites where at least one LPC has been observed within the past three years (measured from the historic lek). The avoidance distance is subject to change based on new information received from peer reviewed science.

9. Allow no 24-hour drilling operations or 3-D geophysical exploration during the period from March 1st through June 15th, annually, on lands enrolled by the Participating Cooperator that are located within Zone 1. Other activities that produce noise or involve human activity, such as geophysical exploration (other than 3-D operations) and pipeline, road, and well pad construction will be allowed during these dates except between 3:00 am and 9:00 am. The 3:00 am to 9:00 am restriction will not apply to normal, around-the-clock operations, such as venting, flaring, or pumping, which do not require a human presence during this period. Normal vehicle use on existing roads will not be restricted. Exceptions to these requirements would be considered in emergency situations, such as mechanical failures, but would not be considered for routine planned events.

10. Noise abatement during the period from March 1st through June 15th, annually. Noise from facilities (e.g., pump jack, compressor) under the control of the Participating Cooperator that service enrolled lands located within Zone 1 will be muffled or otherwise controlled so as not to exceed 75 db measured at 30 ft. from the source of the noise.

11. Limit seismic exploration to area outside of occupied and suitable shinnery dune complexes to protect DSL habitat.

12. Submit a routine monitoring and schedule of inspection for oil, gas and produced water pipelined and facilities to ensure accidental pollution events are avoided in sensitive habitats for DSL.

13. Inside the DSL polygon as depicted in the BLM SSS-RMPA, the following will apply:

a. Any trench left open for eight (8) hours or less is not required to have escape ramps; however, before the trench is backfilled, an agency/CEHMM approved monitor shall walk the entire length of open trench and remove all trapped wildlife and release them at least 100 yards from the trench.

b. For trenches left open for eight (8) hours or more, earthen escape ramps (built at no more than a 30 degree slope and spaced no more than 500 feet apart) shall be placed in the trench. The open trench shall be monitored each day by an agency/CEHMM approved monitor during the following three time periods: (1) 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., (2) 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and (3) 3:00 p.m. to sunset. All trapped wildlife shall be released at least 100 yards from the trench.

c. One agency/CEHMM approved monitor shall be required for every mile of open trench. A daily report (consolidate if more than one monitor) on the wildlife found and removed from the trench shall be provided to CEHMM (email acceptable) the following morning.

d. This stipulation shall apply to the entire length of the project in the DSL habitat regardless of land ownership.

14. Management recommendations may be developed based on new information received from peer reviewed science to mitigate impacts from H2S and/or the accumulation of sulfates in the soil related to production of gas containing H2S on the DSL and LPC. Such management recommendations will be applied by the Participating Cooperator as Conservation Measures under this CI in suitable and occupied DSL/LPC habitat where peer-reviewed science has shown that H2S levels threaten the LPC/DSL.

15. Upon the plugging and subsequent abandonment of a well within Zone 1, the well marker will be installed at ground level on a plate containing the pertinent information for the plugged well unless otherwise precluded by law or private surface owner.

Through the implementation of these conservation measures, oil and gas wells are often relocated to limit the impacts to the habitat and species. Infrastructure, such as pipelines, roads, and power lines, are also assessed for their placement to limit further habitat fragmentation. As wells are drilled, they will be monitored to ensure that the conservation measures identified as terms and conditions of the pertinent certificate are followed.