“Conservation banks are a viable tool for advancing the recovery of listed species. The offset structure enabled by conservation banks provides a mechanism for the FWS and others to balance the needs of constituents in a clear and effective manner.” -National Mitigation Banking Association
High Country News, August 20, 2012 Vol. 44 No. 14 – Saving threatened Utah prairie dogs – on private property, Pages 5/6
Contact: Erica, Program Coordinator, (435)979-1984 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The RC&D is pleased to announce the acquisition and sale of Utah Prairie Dog Habitat Development Credits through the establishment of conservation banks, perpetual conservation easements, on private land within the range of the Utah prairie dog for sale to those in need of mitigating for project impacts.
For Sale: 642.13
Available CREDITS provide clearance in perpetuity for incidental take of Utah prairie dog & their habitat for development actions. CREDIT clearance is valid indefinitely, CREDITS do not expire. Buy now, develop later, sell “pre-cleared” property saving the buyer time and saving you money in the long run.
Benefits to CREDIT BUYER, project proponent, are:
1) Clears Land in Perpetuity of Utah prairie dog encumbrances (No 30, 60, 90 day rules to abide by)*
2) Speeds up development by reducing permitting time
3) Saves time and money by securing mitigation for future/present use, reducing delays, speeding up project implementation, & allowing development to proceed on own time-frame
4) Ease of Purchase (No Council Meetings to Attend, No additional requirements to meet)
5) No Max “Utah prairie dog” take – Cleared by the Acres
6) Provides a net-benefit to the Utah prairie dog and to species’ recovery by protecting habitats in perpetuity
7) Ability to develop as you desire, when you desire
HOW DOES IT WORK?
WHAT IS THE CREDIT COST?
Credit costs are calculated based on a combination of variables which are determined by: direct & indirect costs associated with the purchase of the off-site mitigation easement property; endowment fund costs established for future monitoring of easement property; and program administration. Those variable costs are then factored by the mitigation ratio established by the USFWS, UDWR and members of the UPDHCEP Advisory Panel as sufficient offset for development impact. Credit costs are subject to variation resulting from variable land acquisition prices & associated program costs. Credits prices are also subject to the theory of economics, supply and demand, for example if demand increases beyond the available credit supply credits will then be sold through auction.
Currently CREDITS are selling for $800 each; 1 Acre of permanent impact requires either 6, 8, 10 CR / AC dependent upon property assessment: Low, Medium, or High Habitat; And temporary impact requires 1.2, 1.6, or 6 CR/Ac. dependent upon property assessment.
CREDITS provide ESA clearance IN PERPETUITY to those in need of impacting occupied Utah prairie dog habitat through otherwise legal actions. Active survey season is April 1 – August 31; if development should occur outside active season, an accurate survey or assessment can’t be performed (or accomplished) when prairie dogs are dormant, as a result all dormant season surveys will be assessed as high value habitat.
How many CREDITS do you need to buy?
When evaluating how many CREDITS required for the action, the following criteria are employed to determine the appropriate calculation.
A determination is made based on an evaluation performed by USFWS or UDWR. The evaluation criteria include: 1) what type of impact is going to occur on the land permanent vs. temporary 2) how many acres of occupied habitat to be impacted that require ESA clearance “incidental take” 3) the habitat quality i.e.: Low, Medium or High 4) location and 5) Utah prairie dog population.
Once the degree of incidental take is calculated based on the factors provided above, CREDITS can be purchased and the incidental take can be authorized. The proposed “take” of a species would be incidental (it would be the result of, rather than the purpose for, an otherwise legal action).
A determination of CREDITS required for mitigation is made based on an evaluation performed by USFWS or UDWR, the evaluation criteria include:
- Permanent vs. Temporary Impacts
- Permanent – Permanent impacts include projects with a permanent surface disturbance or buried structure(s) that may substantially alter Utah prairie dog habitat or behavior, or projects extending into the following breeding season.
- Temporary – Generally temporary impacts occur when projects do not extend into the following breeding season and the habitat can be successfully restored, or when there are buried structures that do not substantially alter Utah prairie dog habitat or behavior.
- Number of acres of occupied habitat to be impacted requiring ESA clearance for ”incidental take”
- Habitat Quality: Low, Medium or High
- Species richness
- Average shrub canopy cover
- % of Ground cover
- Moisture rich vegetation
- Landscape Context
- Property location, relative proximity to other colonies
- Barriers to dispersal
- Utah prairie dog population
VALID in PERPETUITY CREDITS Valid indefinitely, whether you intend to develop now or later.
No Translocation Required, but encouraged during July 1-August 31 . No Development Time Frames, Windows or Restrictions. CREDITS provide ESA clearance IN PERPETUITY to those in need of impacting occupied Utah prairie dog habitat through otherwise legal actions. Active survey season is April 1 – August 31; if development should occur outside active season, an accurate survey or assessment can’t be performed (or accomplished) when prairie dogs are dormant, as a result all dormant season surveys will be assessed as high value habitat.
Landowner with mitigation CREDITS are not Liable for Incidental Take (loss of UPD life) as a Result of Normal Development Activities. The proposed “take” of a species would be incidental (it would be the result of, rather than the purpose for, an otherwise legal action).
- Watch YouTube Video About the Program
High Country News, August 20, 2012 Vol. 44 No. 14 – Saving threatened Utah prairie dogs – on private property, Pages 5/6
Enroll Land into Program, RC&D will Purchase a Conservation Easement on Enrolled Land and the Habitat Development Credits.
All applications are accepted on a continuous basis.
The advisory panel and project leaders seek to create
a habitat exchange system for the Utah prairie dog that:
1) Creates a net benefit to the species;
2) Provides an opportunity for those in need of credits to offset their impacts to the species;
and 3) Creates an economic opportunity for private landowners to earn and sell credits by participating in conservation actions.
A Utah Prairie Dog Habitat Credits Exchange Program (HCEP) has been created to provide an avenue for development of private land in Utah prairie dog (UPD) habitat while preserving other important UPD habitat on private lands. This program, administered by Panoramaland and Color Country Resource Conservation & Development Councils (RC&D) and others (see below), addresses issues associated with development of private lands and habitat needs of UPD. It will benefit landowners, developers and species recovery.
The RC&D councils are non-profit entities working with local individuals, governments, councils and organizations to develop and implement solutions to regional problems. They work to develop opportunities that will help sustain rural communities, local economies, natural resources and improve the well-being of their area.
The HCEP is funded by a Conservation Innovation Grant from Natural Resources Conservation Service. It was spearheaded by Utah Farm Bureau Federation and Environmental Defense Fund and enjoys the support of U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The HCEP will serve landowners and developers in Iron, Kane, Beaver, Garfield, Piute, Wayne and Sevier counties. It will be a market based brokerage system that connects developers needing to mitigate for the loss of UPDs, buyers of “Credits”, with private landowners willing to preserve UPDs on their properties through conservation easements, sellers of “Credits.” The RC&D Councils will act as brokers for these transactions and will coordinate HCEP management.
How the PROGRAM Works:
Development of UPD habitat can be allowed if the loss of that habitat can be properly offset. One way to do this is to protect other habitats or pay someone else to do so. The HCEP, which will work like a bank or brokerage, will provide a way to accomplish this.
Potential participants must be aware this is currently a Pilot Program with a relatively small allocation of funding to support the initial stages. During the Pilot Program, efforts will, out of necessity, be focused on high priority areas important for recovery of the species. If successful, it is probable that the program will grow in scope and be able to accommodate an increasing number of participants throughout Iron, Kane, Beaver, Garfield, Piute, Wayne and Sevier counties.
The Program is now in operation and working to acquire UPD habitat Credits from landowners. Any Credits obtained will be made available to Buyers for use in 2011, likely in cooperation with Iron County’s existing Habitat Conservation Plan. The Program is expected to continue as supply and demand dictate.
Willing landowners with at least 20 UPDs on 40 acres may sell a perpetual conservation easement on those acres to the RC&D. This transaction preserves UPD habitat, thereby earning UPD Conservation Credits (Credits). The landowner gets paid by the RC&D for keeping UPDs on his/her ground while retaining title and agricultural rights. The RC&D will hold the conservation easement on the preserved land and coordinate stewardship of the land with the primary landowner. Each landowner, in conjunction with the RC&D, will be able to develop a customized management plan that protects habitat values for UPD and allows continued agricultural activities.
The Credits established through the transaction described above will be held by the RC&D. Developers/landowners (Buyers) who are making permanent impacts to UPDs or their habitat can buy these credits from the RC&D to offset those impacts. Purchase of the proper amount of Credits will allow the Buyer to proceed with his/her project without delay or restriction. Credits will be sold at the going market rate. All proceeds from the sale of Credits will be used to support continuance of the HCEP and related management requirements.
In order to be eligible to purchase Credits, Buyers must first apply to the RC&D and enroll the land to be impacted by development into the HCEP. The land in question will be evaluated (at no cost) by the RC&D or Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to determine its importance to UPDs. This assessment will determine how many Credits will be needed to offset loss of UPD habitat because of development. The assessment will determine if the land is Low, Medium or High quality UPD habitat. The number of Credits needed to offset the loss of this habitat will be based on that assessment.
Developers and others whose actions will impact UPD habitat and who desire to clear property of UPD encumbrances in perpetuity are encouraged to take part in the Program.
HISTORY and NEED:
Utah Prairie Dog, Endangered Species:
Designated as endangered in 1973, the Utah prairie dog was down-listed to threatened in 1984. The current recovery plan emphasizes recovery on public lands even though about 75% of the population is on private lands managed by farmers and ranchers. It is clear that new approaches are needed to encourage greater participation from the private sector. The UPD Recovery Team is now reconsidering the public-lands recovery strategy and incorporating private lands into a revised recovery plan. Private land conservation efforts are essential for recovery efforts to be successful and to de-list (remove) the UPD from the endangered species list.
Development of land near rapidly expanding cities like Cedar City in Iron County, Utah is a major source of habitat loss for the UPD. Developers are required to offset the loss of prairie dog numbers and habitat as part of the Iron County Habitat Conservation Plan(HCP). When the maximum allowable take has been reached for the HCP, the developer’s only option is to wait until the following year when more take is allowed or pay into a recently created mitigation bank through which few credits are available. The allowable take is determined by Utah DWR and is limited to 10% of a rolling 5 year average of dogs counted on public lands and or other lands where easements have been secured. The resulting delay in permitting time, as well as the complicated process, is a source of cost and frustration to developers, and county and municipal governments. Hence, UPD conservation is an ongoing source of controversy.
Current mitigation systems for endangered species are extremely limited in their ability to contribute to species recovery and to encourage and involve participation of individual agricultural producers. With three out of every four Utah prairie dog’s (UPD) habitat located on private lands, it is essential to develop and implement programs that involve the active participation of private landowners in order to achieve species recovery.
The program’s aim is to encourage and facilitate agricultural producer and developer participation in recovery of the Utah prairie dog (UPD) through implementation of the newly created habitat credits exchange program for this species. The goal is to not only mitigate for lost UPD habitat but to assist in the recovery efforts as well. The new program will be known as the Utah Prairie Dog Habitat Credits Exchange Program (UPDHCEP). This innovative market-based recovery credits system will provide a mechanism by which those in need of credits to offset habitat degradation (for example, developers) will fund habitat restoration, enhancement and maintenance projects on private agricultural lands. The project will take place within the full range of the UPD in Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane, Piute, Sevier and Wayne counties in South-Central Utah.
This innovative market-based recovery credit system for the Utah prairie dog will substantially advance recovery prospects for this species by facilitating private agricultural producer involvement and assigning the greatest credit to habitats with the greatest contribution to recovery. Specifically, with guidance from the UPDHCEP Advisory Panel and experience from other examples such as the Fort Hood Recovery Credit System the UPDHCEP was developed.
RESULTS and BENEFITS EXPECTED:
Under direction and oversight of the Panoramaland and Color County RC&D Councils the overall efficiency of the recovery efforts will be enhanced by combining resources and staffing for the UPDHCEP, Safe Harbor Program and UPDRIP. These combined efforts will significantly contribute to species recovery and potential delisting.
The UPDHCEP will help create a market for the conservation of the species. It will speed permitting time for developers and municipalities, reduce conflicts between developers, municipalities, county government, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), provide financial incentives for private agricultural producers to voluntarily enhance habitat, and increase the probability of species recovery.
PROGRAM PARTNERS: Public and Private Entities
The Program would like to acknowledge the continued support and in-kind efforts of these Partners.
The program is the result of a multi-stakeholder public involvement process originating from a Conservation Innovation Grant awarded to Environmental Defense Fund from Natural Resource Conservation Service, with Utah Farm Bureau Federation participating as a primary collaborator to recover and delist UPDs. Funding partner organizations include: USDA/NRCS, Environmental Defense Fund, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Cooperating partner organizations include: Fabian & Clendenin, Utah Farm Bureau; University of Southern Utah Extension, Iron County Home Builders Association, NRCS, UDWR, UDNR, Iron County, UPDRIP-Utah Prairie Dog Recovery Implementation Program, ESMF-Endangered Species Mitigation Fund, Color Country Resource Conservation & Development, Panoramaland Resource Conservation & Development and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS:
Landowners/Farmers/Ranchers/Producers willing to establish and sell to the RC&D a permanent conservation easement.
Interested landowners meeting minimum qualifications of 40 acres and 20 UPDs may sign-up to participate. Participating properties will be evaluated and ranked by the RC&D and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Upon evaluation, properties receive a rating and a value. Upon approval for easement purchase “Credits” can then be calculated from the value given. The amount of “Credits” earned will be determined by the environmental evaluation, ranking, quality of the UPD habitat and an inventory of the existing population. Conservation easements will be purchased and held by the RC&D from those properties meeting the minimum criteria.
Developers, Builders and others making permanent impacts in need of mitigation.
Conservation Easement “Credits” will be made available on the open market to enrolled Buyers making permanent impacts. Buyers must apply and enroll land to be impacted into the Program before the purchase of credits. An evaluation of land to be cleared is required by UDWR or RC&D (at no cost) to determine the value of the colony and habitat (area) in need of mitigation. Properties will be assessed and assigned a value from which “Credits” needed to clear the land will be calculated for purchase.
Mitigation banking is the restoration, creation, enhancement, or preservation of a wetland, stream, or habitat conservation area which offsets expected adverse impacts to similar nearby ecosystems. Mitigation banks place a perpetual conservation easement on the land, with a trust to fund its stewardship. Mitigation banks provide many functional business advantages, allowing for ease of development; They allow a developer to maximize the use of their site. Because mitigation bank credits are created prior to impacts, purchasing credits from a mitigation bank decreases permitting time. The cost is often lower than acceptable alternatives. Regulatory burden and risk is passed from developer to mitigation bank.
The primary purpose of a conservation easement is to protect land from certain forms of development or use. Lands for which conservation easements may be desirable include agricultural land, timber resources, and/or other valuable natural resources such as wildlife habitat, clean water, clean air, or scenic open space. Protection is achieved primarily by separating the right to subdivide and build on the land from the other rights of ownership. The landowner who gives up these “development rights” continues to privately own and manage the land and may receive significant state and federal tax advantages for having donated and/or sold the conservation easement. Perhaps more importantly, the landowner has contributed to the public good by preserving the conservation values associated with their land for future generations. In accepting the conservation easement, the easement holder has a responsibility to monitor future uses of the land to ensure compliance with the terms of the easement and to enforce the terms if a violation occurs.
e-Blast News briefs from Utah NRCS:
See below U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Fact Sheets:
Utah Prairie Dog Habitat Credits Exchange (UPDHCEP) & Safe Harbor Programs (SHA) pg. 4-7
Tools for Conservation Partnerships
Our Endangered Species Program and How it Works with Landowners http://www.fws.gov/endangered/factsheets/delisting.pdf
Endangered Species Recovery Program
Endangered Species Bulletin March 2006 Vol. XXXI No.1
Other UPD Documents:
Utah Prairie Dog Recovery Publications:
For information, please contact:
Erica Wightman, 435/979-1984 or UPDHCEprogram@hotmail.com Fax: 888/503-0507
Utah Farm Bureau Federation Representatives:
Jan Anderson 801/494-3906 or Mark Peterson 801/450-5981
No one knows how the extinction of organisms will affect the other members of its ecosystem, but the removal of a single species can set off a chain reaction affecting many others. This is especially true for a “keystone” species, whose loss can transform or undermine the ecological processes or fundamentally change the species composition of the wildlife community. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
© Panoramaland RC&D