Presenter: Ruben Cantu; Dale Hall, USFS

Commission Agenda Item No. 6
High Plains Partnership Initiatives
May 2003

I. Discussion: The High Plains region of North America encompasses portions of 11 states and extends into Canada and Mexico. This area once supported vast herds of grazing animals including bison, elk, pronghorn antelope and black-tailed prairie dogs. These species, in concert with occasional fires sweeping across the plains, maintained the grasslands and shaped their ecological functions. No single habitat association in North America is more diminished than the temperate grasslands. Less than 1% of the tall grass prairies remain; however, the short and mid-grass grasslands still cover over 200 million acres of native rangeland. Yet, grassland-nesting bird populations like the lesser prairie chicken, sage grouse, mountain plover and others are declining at incredible rates. Because more than 90% of the High Plains is privately owned, it is essential that public and private conservation organizations develop full cooperation and trust to meet the shared goals of conserving grassland species in a non-regulatory manner, while aiding the economic viability of private landowners. The High Plains Partnership (HPP) is a public-private initiative to proactively conserve declining, candidate and listed species and their habitats on private lands throughout the High Plains region.