Despite a new political landscape, landscape conservation commitments remain

Sagebrush in Carson Valley, Nevada. Photo credit: Flickr user loren chipman.

Sagebrush landscape in Carson Valley, Nevada. Photo credit: Flickr user loren chipman.

The presidential election has changed the political landscape both nationally and in the states we work. As we continue to make sense of the changes, what hasn’t changed is the commitment of many state leaders – Republicans and Democrats – to protecting our nation’s treasured landscapes.

In Nevada, the state just made a second wave of funding available to Nevada landowners who enhance and restore high-quality habitat for greater sage-grouse. This funding supplements an initial $1 million made available earlier this year to fund the first four credit projects through the Nevada Conservation Credit System (CCS).

Nevada created the CCS to keep the greater sage-grouse off the Endangered Species List and to provide a robust, efficient mitigation program for industries seeking to offset impacts to the imperiled bird’s habitat. Under the system, landowners sell credits to industries needing to mitigate future disturbances to the bird’s habitat in order to receive permits from the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The State of Nevada and its partners through the Nevada CCS have effectively demonstrated the value that cooperative effort, advanced mitigation and market-based solutions can bring to major conservation challenges.”

The market potential of the program is already proving to be significant for both private landowners who will develop credits (dozens of landowners submitted credit applications for the first round of funding) and industries that need to mitigate their activities. With this second round of funding, the market will only grow, putting more dollars directly in the hands of landowners who can rapidly create benefits on the ground.

Calling all credit producers

Farmers and ranchers are critical to conserving greater sage-grouse habitat on both private and public lands.

For more information about the criteria and timeline for the application process, please see the official announcement.

Up to $1,200,000 is available for private landowners, businesses, conservation organizations, mitigation bankers and state agencies interested in submitting projects to the Nevada CCS. Interested parties can apply for funding using a Letter of Interest form, due January 9, 2017. Final projects will be awarded in spring 2017 and are to be implemented by the end of the year.

The State of Nevada will provide selected projects with upfront financial and technical assistance necessary to implement projects that generate high-value credits. Future credit sales will create the opportunity for project proponents to receive additional payments and for the state to recover the funding provided.

Status of existing projects

Four projects were funded through the initial round of funding, which completed habitat assessments over the summer and are now developing management plans and performing habitat improvements. These initial projects are anticipated to generate approximately 5,500 credits by enhancing and protecting 13,607 acres of greater sage-grouse habitat.

The State of Nevada and its partners through the Nevada CCS have effectively demonstrated the value that cooperative effort, advanced mitigation and market-based solutions can bring to major conservation challenges. Thanks to the leadership of the Governor’s office, state and federal agencies and the Sagebrush Ecosystem Council, Nevada is well positioned to manage sage-grouse conservation in a way that’s good for its people, industries and environment.

Related:

Nevada landowners eager to generate conservation credits, help sage-grouse >>

$2 million available for Nevada landowners to earn revenue through sage-grouse pilots >>

First-ever habitat exchange opens for business >>

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