Nevada’s sagebrush habitats, which host the iconic greater sage-grouse, are imperiled—but the State of Nevada, ranchers, and private industry are coming together to help save them. The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced this first-of-its-kind agreement between a mining company (Coeur Rochester, Inc.) and a working ranch (Crawford Cattle, LLC) earlier this month. As the first private transaction under the Nevada Conservation Credit System (Credit System), this event is a remarkable milestone in the state’s effort to protect sensitive sagebrush habitat and the greater sage-grouse while also supporting Nevada’s local economy.
Under the agreement, Coeur Rochester will provide funding to preserve and enhance over 3,000 acres of vital greater sage-grouse habitat. Their funding will support Crawford Cattle’s commitment to proactive habitat stewardship, balanced land management, and responsible grazing practices. “This deal is good news for the future of greater sage-grouse conservation,” said Erik Anderson, Senior Associate at Environmental Incentives. “In addition to the lasting impacts their efforts will have in supporting greater sage-grouse populations, Crawford Cattle and Coeur Rochester demonstrate how ranching and mining can work together to protect Nevada’s natural heritage.”
Nevada’s vast sagebrush ecosystem provides opportunities for ranching, mining, and recreation—all of which are critical to supporting thriving communities across the state. But this ecosystem is threatened by human and natural causes, leading to decreased populations of species like the greater sage-grouse. In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that listing the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act is warranted but precluded by higher priority species. Their announcement prompted proactive conservation measures at the state and local levels to help protect this iconic species of the American West. The State of Nevada has been at the very forefront of those conservation leaders. Since 2014, Environmental Incentives has worked with the State of Nevada to develop and operate the Credit System, an innovative, market-based approach to greater sage-grouse conservation and habitat protection. The Credit System relies on conservation outcomes generated by working landowners to offset impacts to habitat from industry proactively.
While the Credit System has sponsored previous successful habitat mitigation, this deal between Coeur Rochester and Crawford Cattle is unique. As the first transaction to achieve a sale of credits from a rancher to the mining industry, it represents a collaborative approach that will enable net conservation gains for greater sage-grouse while also supporting important ranching and mining operations. Transactions like this will increasingly play a critical role in charting the path forward for greater sage-grouse conservation. Momentum is growing—multiple additional transactions are expected for the Credit System this year. This first private transaction in the Credit System demonstrates that collaboration between landowners, industry, and government can achieve real benefits for ecosystems and communities.