- Associated Press - Monday, March 24, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has renewed and expanded a partnership to provide expert advice to farmers and ranchers to help protect the habitat of the lesser prairie chicken.

As part of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative, the agency is partnering with a national wildlife conservation organization to jointly invest $5 million over three years.

The funds will support technical assistance, including hiring field conservationists to help farmers and ranchers voluntarily maintain and improve lesser prairie chicken habitat in the Southern Great Plains.

Since 2010, farmers and ranchers participating in the initiative have maintained or improved more than a million acres of habitat for the bird. The bird’s range includes parts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.