New Panhandle wildlife management area approved
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved acceptance of a land donation to create the new 14,037-acre Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Cochran, Terry and Yoakum counties, near Lubbock. The WMA will provide a refuge for the threatened lesser prairie chicken and other native grassland birds and wildlife, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
It’s the first new WMA in Texas since the 2006 donation of the McGillivray and Leona McKie Muse WMA in Brown County.
Acquisition of land for the WMA was made possible through a partnership between The Nature Conservancy of Texas, The Conservation Fund and Concho Resources, Inc., an oil and gas company operating in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico that donated $400,000 to The Conservation Fund towards land acquisitions for the WMA, according to TPWD. The donation leveraged $1.2 million in federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program funds.
“Conserving the lesser-prairie chicken all comes down to habitat, and the new Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area will provide vital breeding and nesting habitat for the species in a critically important part of its range” said Ross Melinchuk, TPWD deputy executive director for natural resources. “It would not have been possible without federal wildlife grant funds and support from private partners.”
In coming years the agency plans to offer public recreational use of the WMA, including hunting, birding and other compatible recreation. However, decisions about what degree and how much of the WMA may be open to the public won’t be possible until after on-site resources are fully assessed, according to TPWD.
Once the new WMA is created after the land transfer, TPWD will eventually create a Yoakum Dunes WMA web page with more information for the public. In the meantime, questions about the new WMA or landowner assistance for wildlife conservation can be addressed to the Panhandle/High Plains Wildlife District of the TPWD Wildlife Division.
Read the full TPWD news release for more information.