Public and private partners “Bank” on the fragile ecosystem of northern Colorado

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Conservation Investment Management, Colorado Open Lands, and the Colorado State Land Board have announced the Table Top Conservation Bank, a new partnership to raise private funds to help an important declining species. The partnership will conserve and enhance more than two hundred acres of habitat on Colorado state trust land for the federally threatened Preble Meadow Jumping Mouse in Larimer County. This is Colorado’s first-ever commercial conservation bank that will sell credits to offset negative impacts on Preble’s Meadowsaw Jumping Mouse habitat over a large area.

“Colorado is known for its beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife, and as Coloradans we must do what is necessary to protect all of the species that inhabit Colorado,” said Marlon Reis, First Gentleman of Colorado. “The Preble Meadow Jumping Mouse has inhabited Colorado since the Ice Age, but its habitat has declined due to modern human development. Fortunately, the conservation bank is a win-win solution that boosts our economy, restores our lands, and preserves important species or habitats. I’m proud that today marks Colorado’s first large-scale commercial conservation bank for an endangered species.

The Preble Meadow Jumping Mouse is a small rodent with a habitat only along the Front Range of Colorado and Wyoming. Biologists believe the species arrived in Colorado during the last ice age and remained there after the glaciers retreated. In the drier post-glacial climate, mice were confined to moist ecosystems along streams with dense vegetation between 4,650 and 8,100 feet above sea level.

Over the past century, widespread habitat loss and fragmentation due to development, water diversions, overgrazing, water pollution, and gravel and sand extraction have resulted in rapid population declines. already rare from Preble. The conservation bank, protected by a conservation easement in perpetuity, can be a reliable habitat for these mammals to help secure the future of their species.

A conservation bank protects the habitat of animals or plants listed under the Endangered Species Act. In this case, Conservation Investment Management, which invests private capital in conservation, leased land from the Colorado State Land Board, made habitat improvements to benefit the species, obtained approval from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to create the conservation bank and funded an endowment to manage the land in perpetuity. Going forward, the Colorado State Land Board will manage the long-term stewardship of the site and Colorado Open Lands (COL) will engage in field monitoring to ensure that the site’s conservation values ​​are maintained. Credits from the conservation bank will be sold to third parties who are developing projects in northern Colorado and are needed to offset negative impacts on the species’ habitat.

“Because of its larger scale, this conservation bank will be much more effective in protecting this endangered species. Instead of various developers setting aside relatively small habitat areas in a scattered approach, we will be able to focus our efforts and resources in one place, which will give these guys a much better chance for long-term survival, ” LOC President Tony Caligiuri said. .

“Table Top is a prime example of how private capital conservation investments can generate competitive returns for investors as well as positive environmental impacts,” said Ben Guillon, CEO of Conservation Investment Management (CIM). “We look forward to replicating this successful model and further innovating for the benefit of western ecosystems. “

The conservation easement for 222 acres is located on Colorado state trust land. The State Land Board owns 2.8 million acres of state trust land held in trust for the benefit of public schools. The State Land Board leases state-owned land for a variety of purposes – agriculture, renewable energy, mineral extraction, recreation, and more. – to earn money for public schools. It is the first conservation bank on state-owned land in the agency’s 145-year history. Leasing for ecosystem services is a new type of activity for the agency and it includes conservation banks, wetland and stream mitigation banks, voluntary payments from the rangeland program, pollinators, etc.

The conservation bank was approved on August 10, 2021 by the US Fish and Wildlife Services and the first credits from the conservation bank are expected to be sold out shortly. The ICM looks forward to advancing species conservation in the future by continuing to use this tool – conservation banks – for the benefit of various important animal and plant species.

Creating a custody bank is a beneficial relationship for all parties involved. Colorado residents benefit from private external funding to achieve lasting results in land conservation. The private entity can make a profit by selling the credits. The credit buyer can proceed with its development while meeting federal protection mandates. And perhaps the biggest beneficiary of all, in this case, is the Preble Meadows Jumping Mouse, which will be able to continue to contribute to the overall biodiversity of these sensitive ecosystems.

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