Neugebauer was joined by Rep. Doc Hastings, Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and Rep. Frank Lucas, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, as well as six other members of Congress.
"Listing the Lesser-Prairie Chicken as threatened would place restrictions on private and public land use, and severely limit farming, ranching, transportation, wind energy, and oil and gas activity in the area," Neugebauer explained. "It could force layoffs in a region already struggling with severe drought and a tough economy. That's unacceptable."
The letter requested that the Fish and Wildlife Service extend the public comment period on the proposed rule by at least 60 days, and extend the final listing deadline by at least 90 days.
"A longer comment period gives citizens more time to get educated on the consequences of listing the Lesser-Prairie Chicken," Neugebauer said. "And it ensures that everyone affected by this listing has a chance to provide input."
The letter also requested that the Fish and Wildlife Service promptly coordinate with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) to approve a conservation agreement for oil and gas activities within the Lesser Prairie-Chicken's range.
"These voluntary agreements help protect species' habitat, and promote smart conservation practices," Neugebauer stated. "When stakeholders can agree on voluntary measures like this, everybody wins. There are fewer costs imposed by the government. The industry has the flexibility it needs to continue to operate. And it promotes healthy wildlife habitat."
Finally, the Members requested an in-person meeting with Director Ashe so they could share their constituents' concerns with him.
Neugebauer also urged residents of West Texas to attend a Fish and Wildlife Service's hearing in Lubbock on Monday, February 11, to learn more about the proposed listing and share their comments. The hearing will take place at 6:30 PM, Monday, Feb. 11 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center.
EDITOR NOTE: The full letter from Neugebauer has been attached to this article.