First Greater Sage-Grouse credits are available for sale in Nevada!July 19, 2017
Over 800 credits of high quality Greater Sage-Grouse habitat are available for purchase through Nevada’s Conservation Credit System one year after project funding.
The State of Nevada provided seed-funding to four credit projects in the spring of 2016, two of which have credits for sale and a third is expected to have credits available for sale later this summer. The Conservation Credit System (CCS), administered by the Sagebrush Ecosystem Program (SEP), is a market-based system that connects landowners who produce quality Greater Sage-Grouse habitat (credits) with mitigation buyers needing to offset anthropogenic disturbances that impact habitat (debits). The program allows for development vital to the communities and economy within the state to continue while ensuring net-benefit to the species is achieved through habitat enhancement and long-term stewardship. For landowners, the CCS provides new sources of economic opportunity that are compatible with current ranching and agricultural activities.
Conservation and business certainty, founded in science
Landowners generate credits by enhancing and protecting high-quality Greater Sage-Grouse habitat. The CCS defines a set of standards to consistently quantify the value of the habitat using the best available science, and ensure credit projects are durable. By using a standardized approach, the CCS achieves both conservation and business certainty for participants. Landowners generating credits can quickly determine the credit potential of land and gain approval from the SEP to sell credits. The State and BLM have confidence that each credit-based offset achieves net-benefit for the species, and mitigation buyers are able to quickly determine and fulfill their mitigation obligation. These standards also increase the portion of mitigation costs that go to on-the-ground conservation and provides habitat benefits more quickly than tradition mitigation approaches.
Building the pipeline of credits
Initial credits available for sale are from two private ranches in Elko County, John’s Ranch and Cottonwood Ranch, and represent over 2,000 acres of habitat. The sale price of the credits will be based on current market price and negotiated between the landowner and mitigation buyer.
The early adoption of the CCS by landowners and ability to generate credits available for sale in less than a year are important milestones for the State of Nevada and the future of the Greater Sage-Grouse species. The initial pool of credits provides new offset options for corporations and public infrastructure agencies needing to fulfill mitigation obligations in order to secure permits from BLM and USFS. Building on this momentum are 33,000 acres of additional projects that the state seed-funded this spring, which are expected to produce between 15,000 – 20,000 credits for sale this fall or by the spring of 2018.
As the credit system picks up steam, we expect the efficiency and effectiveness of the program to increase for producers and buyers alike. Mitigation buyers interested in purchasing available credits can contact the SEP program administrator Kelly McGowan firstname.lastname@example.org today.
EI assisted the SEP with design, pilot testing and adaptive management of the CCS. Wildlife program managers are invited to contact our wildlife and land staff to learn more about using incentives and habitat quantification tools to increase the environmental return on investment of mitigation or public conservation dollars.