Western governors tout sage grouse conservation efforts

Two male sage grouse challenge each other for hens in Rockland, Idaho.

The Associated Press

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Kinross Gold U.S.A. announced the first sage-grouse credit transaction under the Nevada Conservation Credit System program.

This first credit transaction is expected to protect nearly 10,000 acres of primary sage-grouse habitat in northeastern Nevada.

This first sage-grouse transaction sets a precedent and is expected to make the process more efficient for landowners to participate in the CCS in the future.

The program was created by the state of Nevada, in partnership with stakeholders, to preserve and enhance sage-grouse habitats by trading conservation credits to offset potential environmental impacts of land use and aims to maintain the multiple-use concept on public land, and to improve habitats on private and public lands.

Kinross’s wholly-owned subsidiary, KG Mining (Bald Mountain) Inc., enrolled in the CCS program to meet its voluntary compensatory mitigation obligations to offset potential sage-grouse effects due to its mining activities at its Bald Mountain gold mine in northeast Nevada. KG enrolled the company’s privately owned ranch, Tumbling JR, into the program to help protect nearly 10,000 acres of sage-grouse habitat that supports the species’ entire lifecycle.

The project includes limiting new disturbance and infrastructure on the property, prohibiting conversion of the properties from rangeland to cropland, maintaining fencing, and implementing grazing management practices to preserve and conserve sage-grouse habitat. The company is committed to undertake these conservation actions for the next 30 years.

Gov. Brian Sandoval praised Kinross and the project, saying, “This demonstrates that the state plan works and how good-faith efforts between public entities, private industry and land managers can produce results that are beneficial to the environment and wildlife.”

“We are proud to be the first company to be part of the sage-grouse credit transaction to help protect the habitat of this important species in Nevada,” said Randy Burggraff, president and general manager of Bald Mountain mine. “The CCS program is an effective strategy to help conserve the sage-grouse by off-setting potential effects to sagebrush habitat through the credit system. In the spirit of responsible mining and sound environmental stewardship, we have committed to a variety of voluntary environmental protection and mitigation measures so there is a net conservation gain to the sage-grouse.”

“This is an excellent example of partnership and stewardship by federal, state and private sector stakeholders to conserve sagebrush habitat,” said Marci Todd, acting Nevada Director of the federal Bureau of Land Management. “This is about working cooperatively and working smartly. The BLM is proud to be a part of this first-ever transaction under the Nevada Conservation Credit System.

“The long term preservation and maintenance of these mesic habitat types is of significant importance to sage-grouse and other wildlife in the area,” said Kelly McGowan, program manager for the Sagebrush Ecosystem Program. “I want to thank Kinross for being such a willing participant in the first Nevada CCS transaction.”

Carolyn Swed, Reno field supervisor for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, added, “The Service appreciates the Nevada Sagebrush Ecosystem Program’s dedication to greater sage-grouse conservation and congratulates them on the first sale of credits through the Conservation Credit System. Avoiding and minimizing habitat fragmentation is important for sage-grouse conservation and the CCS can help achieve that goal. We look forward to continuing to work with the SEP on the Conservation Credit System, ensuring it is both ecologically and economically successful into the future.”

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