BLM and permittees want to use the Conservation Credit System to offset unavoidable impacts
July 5, 2016
On June 24, 2016, BLM released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed Bald Mountain Mine North and South Operations Area Projects (Bald Mountain Project). In the FEIS, as reported by the Elko Daily Free Press, the project proponent, Kinross Mining Inc., committed to purchasing between 5,251 and 6,039 credits from Nevada’s Conservation Credit System within 6 months of the credits being available.
Several permittees are working with BLM to potentially use Nevada’s Conservation Credit System to offset their impacts when their disturbances are proven unavoidable, and minimization does not provide for complete direct or indirect impact avoidance. The Bald Mountain Project is the first FEIS to include the use of Nevada’s Conservation Credit System to offset unavoidable impacts, and verified conservation credits may be used to offset those impacts as early as the fall of 2016.
Nevada’s Conservation Credit System was designed in 2014, after State of Nevada statute NRS Chapter 232.162 directed the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DCNR) to develop and operate a credit-based mitigation program for the greater sage-grouse. In 2015, the State of Nevada pilot tested the Conservation Credit System and completed the Conservation Credit System’s first annual continual improvement process. In April 2016, the DCNR, the Bureau of Land Management Nevada and California State Offices (BLM), and the US Forest Service Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (USFS) announced a Memorandum of Understanding that describes the strategy and process for inter-agency implementation of Nevada’s Conservation Credit System.
The goal of Nevada’s Conservation Credit System is for impacts from anthropogenic disturbances to be offset by enhancement and protection that results in a net benefit for greater sage-grouse habitat in the State of Nevada. In addition, the Conservation Credit System provides clearly defined rules and operational processes to increase business certainty for permittees related to the time and cost to determine and fulfill greater sage-grouse mitigation obligations.
The inclusion of Nevada’s Conservation Credit System in the Bald Mountain Project FEIS is a strong signal that the Conservation Credit System is a mitigation solution that works for BLM and permittees.