Ep. 99 Protecting the Prairie Chicken

Once abundant in the southern Plains, the lesser prairie chicken is now a rarer sight.

article image
David McGowen - stock.adobe.com

In this episode of Mother Earth News and Friends, we learn about the lesser prairie chicken, a beloved bird in the southern Plains of the United States whose population has dwindled over the years. But the good news is that people are working to save both the lesser prairie chicken and the delicate habitat it lives in. We chat with Mike Ford of The Conservation Fund and Dirac Twidwell of the Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative to learn more.

Mike Ford joined The Conservation Fund in 1999, after a 25-year career with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. He continues today to serve as the Nevada and Southwest Director. He has been responsible for some of the Fund’s largest projects, including acquisition of the Kane and Two Mile Ranches that encompass nearly 100 miles of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. The expansive inholding connects three national monuments, two national recreation areas, eight wilderness areas, and controls extensive inholdings and grazing permits across nearly 900,000 acres of federal land.

Mike continues to work on a variety of issues developing effective land and resource management strategies that balance economic development and achieve conservation objectives. When not working you can generally find him on a golf course, near the beach, or watching his beloved Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dirac Twidwell is an Associate Professor and Rangeland Ecologist in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. His program focuses on how relatively simple changes in vegetation and disturbance regimes affect societal well-being. Natural disasters, collapses in rural livelihoods on working rangelands, and the depletion of biological diversity, and the loss of unique cultural heritage are all threatened by the erosion of resilience in rangelands and other ecosystems. His focus is to create novel solutions to these types of threats and demonstrate how to enhance the resilience of working lands to better cope with the sustainability challenges of this century.

Engaging groups to co-produce science-based solutions has never been more important. Dirac is a strong proponent of science for citizen and professional use. He works alongside multiple large landowner networks to provide access to state-of-the-art scientific technologies, develop novel teaching approaches to advance resilience in the classroom. This led to his current role as a Science Advisor for the USDA NRCS, Great Plains and the Working Lands for Wildlife Program to support agency decision-making at regional and national levels.

Links mentioned in Podcast:

Check out Brinsea and their leading incubation technology.

The Conservation Fund

Lesser Prairie Chicken Habitat Project

Find The Conservation Fund on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative

Find the Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative on Facebook and Twitter.


Our Podcast Team: Carla Tilghman and Jessica Mitchell
Additional music in the podcast is “Mountain Sun,” “Thingmajig,” and “One Fine Day” by Jason Shaw.

 Audio of the lesser prairie chicken provided by Andy Lawrence.

To listen to more podcasts, go to MOTHER EARTH NEWS Podcast

Check out the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Bookstore for more resources that may interest you.

Check out the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR page for an opportunity to see our podcast guest live.

The Mother Earth News Podcast is a production of Ogden Publications