The Thunder Basin Grasslands Prairie Ecosystem Association is working with the Service to develop a CCAA for greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), sage sparrow (Amphispiza belli), Brewer's sparrow (Spizella breweri), sage thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus), black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus), mountain plover (Charadrius montanus), burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) and ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis). The current vision for the CCAA is to have the association hold a permit that allows it to issue certificates of inclusion for participating non-Federal land owners in Campbell, Converse, Crook, Niobrara and Weston counties.
The 4W Ranch is a 29,000-acre cattle ranch in southwestern Weston and northwestern Niobrara counties. The ranch is bisected by the Cheyenne River, and the area immediately adjacent to the river, approximately one-half mile wide, contains a cottonwood riparian forest interspersed with hay fields. Moving north and south out of this riparian area, relatively flat short grass benches occur. These benches contain black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus ) colonies, which also provide habitat for nesting mountain plovers (Charadrius montanus ), burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia ), and ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis ). In an effort to maintain these four species, as well as provide the ranch with assurances that in the event one or more species become listed under the Endangered Species Act, the 4W Ranch has entered into a CCAA with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.