On December 9th, 2015, the State of Nevada announced that funds are available through the Sagebrush Ecosystem Program for projects that will enhance and restore high quality greater sage-grouse habitat on private and public land. The purpose of these funds is to not only improve greater sage-grouse habitat, but to also create a supply of “compensatory mitigation credits” to be used in the Nevada Conservation Credit System. Environmental Incentives lead the design of the Credit System in 2014, and supported the pilot projects and inaugural adaptive management cycle in 2015 that resulted in adopted improvements by the Sagebrush Ecosystem Council on December 10th, 2015.
This is the first of two rounds of funding that will be available for project implementation in 2016 and 2017. Up to $1,000,000 of funding is available for projects that can be initiated in 2016. Multiple awards will be made by the Sagebrush Ecosystem Program to selected parties. Private landowners, businesses, conservation organizations, mitigation bankers and state agencies are encouraged to apply for projects that enhance and protect habitat on private and/or public land. Interested parties are asked to submit a Letter of Interest using the letter of intent form.
Funding will support implementation of habitat improvements, including the development of management plans, analyses of habitat quality and completion of all materials necessary to make projects ready to sell credits through the Conservation Credit System. Funded projects will establish a mutually benefiting partnership between the project proponent and the State. The State will provide project proponents upfront financial and technical assistance necessary to implement projects that generate credits, and then future credit sales create the opportunity for both the project proponent to receive additional payments and the State to recover the funding provided so that the State can reinvest it in additional habitat projects. Terms of cost recovery will be defined with each project proponent as part of the agreement to receive funds for each funded project.
The State of Nevada legislature also approved $1,000,000 of funding for habitat enhancement and protection in FY2017. A similar solicitation process will likely be announced for the investment of these funds in late 2016.