Prairie Resource Foundation
Pools Resources with
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program
Over the past three years, the Fish and Wildlife
Services Kansas Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program has been involved in a
partnership with state and federal agencies in both Kansas and Oklahoma with the common
goal of improving and protecting our vanishing prairie resources. What makes this
partnership unique is that it centers around a local, landowner-driven, non-profit
resource foundation called the Comanche Pool Prairie Resource Foundation, known locally as
The Comanche Pool.
The Comanche Pool was
founded by a group of landowners located in the mixed-grass and sand-sage prairies
encompassing approximately 5.4 million acres in south-central Kansas and North-central
Oklahoma. This area includes two Fish and Wildlife Service Regions, two Natural Resources
Conservation Service Regions, two State Wildlife Agencies and numerous local Conservation
The Comanche Pool is dedicated to providing for
the regeneration and protection of natural resources, the education of ranchers, local
citizens and youth on the proper management of the rangeland ecosystem and enhancement of
the socioeconomic well-being of the rural community.
partnership between the Fish and Wildlife Service
and the Comanche Pool began in 1998 when the Services
Oklahoma Field Office and the Western Governors
Association, along with the High Plains Resources,
Conservation, and Development; the Oklahoma Department
of Wildlife; and the Natural Resources Conservation
Service hosted Rancher Conversation Meetings in
western Oklahoma. These meetings generated landowner
input and interest in a new direction the Service
was taking toward candidate species conservation.
This led to the development of the High Plains
Partnership, an effort geared toward the conservation
of species at risk in portions of Oklahoma, Texas,
New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas. Several Comanche
Pool board members were in attendance at the initial
meeting and expressed an interest in being involved
in this new program.
In Kansas, it was decided that the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program
would be the best mechanism for completing habitat projects. Contact was made with the
Comanche Pool in early February of 2000, and a partnership was developed. Since the
partnership was developed the Comanche Pool has assisted the Service in securing
approximately $295,000 for on the ground projects. This funding has led to habitat
improvement on approximately 30,000 acres with an additional 45,000 acres of habitat work
targeted for this year.
Projects are geared toward
habitat restoration and protection for the lesser prairie chicken, black-tailed prairie
dog, ferruginous hawk, burrowing owl, plains minnow, red spotted toad, and Arkansas
darter. However, the overall emphasis of the partnership is on good rangeland management.
Some of the habitat improvement practices include grazing management plans, fencing, water
development, control of woody invasives, and native plant restoration.
The Comanche Pool has also
received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the FMC Corporation
for additional habitat restoration projects and has worked diligently to secure a Range
Specialist position, jointly-funded by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks,
Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Comanche
Pool. This position will act as a point of contact for the Service and provide technical
assistance to landowners looking to improve their rangeland habitat in both Kansas and
Oklahoma. So far, this position has been responsible for completing grassland
inventories and grazing plans on over 46,000 acres in four Oklahoma Counties and six
The partnership developed
with the Comanche Pool and others like it are what has made the Partners for Fish and
Wildlife Program a successful endeavor throughout the United States. Working with local,
landowner-driven organizations is critical to the to the success of a habitat restoration
program on private lands, especially in a state like Kansas which is 98% privately owned.
For more information about the
partnership contact the Comanche Pool Prairie Resource Foundation at (620)582-2211 ext. 3
or the Kansas Partners for Fish & Wildlife Program at (785)539-3474 ext. 111.