A Landowner Perspective on Habitat Exchanges: An Economically Sound Solution

Friday, October 24, 2014: 2:25 PM
Ampitheater (Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center)
Terry Fankhauser , Colorado Cattlemen's Association
Ranchers, energy companies and environmentalists are finding each other willing partners in solving big conservation challenges.  Colorado is one of 11 Western states where the greater sage-grouse nests in high desert topography that's also prime cattle range. And more recently, Colorado's booming oil and gas industry has encroached on the bird's habitat.  With the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service facing a 2015 deadline for a greater sage-grouse listing decision a new approach to conserving this species is needed. An essential part of the solution lies in the millions of acres of privately held working lands that are prime grouse habitat. What is needed is an efficient way for energy companies to invest in the conservation potential of these private lands, so as to improve the status of the species and minimize the need for listing. The Colorado Habitat Exchange is designed to empower landowners and ranchers across Colorado to earn revenue by selling habitat credits to oil companies so as to offset their impacts to grouse habitat. The Habitat Exchange enables ranchers to earn a new revenue stream while allowing flexibility to engage in a variety of agricultural practices.  Habitat exchanges will help keep working lands working – for agriculture and habitat. In order to tap the vast habitat potential of privately owned lands we must strike the right balance between species conservation and economic growth and bring all stakeholders — farmers, ranchers, energy producers and conservationists — together to create positive environmental outcomes.