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Fourth Annual New Mexico Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival
Southwest Region, April 9, 2005
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On April 9-10, 2005, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office (NMESFO) staff participated in the Fourth Annual New Mexico High Plains Prairie-Chicken Festival. The festival took place around the small community of Milnesand in the heart of occupied lesser prairie-chicken habitat in eastern New Mexico. Approximately 125 people were registered for the festival and came from as far away as Massachusetts. Visiting dignitaries included the New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands. NMESFO staff assisted New Mexico Department of Game and Fish personnel and other volunteers by providing a van to shuttle festival registrants to observe prairie chicken breeding displays and participate in field tours on topics such as playa lake ecology. Meals were prepared by a local women's auxiliary group. Over 140 people attended the meal on Saturday night and several area ranchers and their families were present. The festival concept grew out of High Plains Partnership efforts in the region and provides a unique opportunity for ranchers with valuable wildlife resources on their private lands to interface with birding enthusiasts and other conservationists interested in conserving at-risk species. Festival organizers intend to hold an event next year and given the high level of support for the festival, it appears that it could become a tradition in eastern New Mexico.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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