Guidance for the Establishment, Use, and Operation of Conservation Banks (USFWS 5/2/03)

A conservation bank is a parcel of land containing natural resource values that are conserved and managed in perpetuity, through a conservation easement held by an entity responsible for enforcing the terms of the easement, for specified listed species and used to offset impacts occurring elsewhere to the same resource values on non-bank lands. Bank p arcels are typically large enough to accommodate the mitigation of multiple projects. A project proponent will secure a certain amount of natural resource values within the bank to offset the impacts to those same values offsite. The bank is specifically managed and protected by the banker or designee for the natural resource values. The values of the natural resources are translated into quantified "credits." Typically, the credit price will include funding for the long-term natural resource management and protection of those values. Project proponents are, therefore, able to complete their conservation needs through a one time purchase of credits from the conservation bank. This allows "one-stop-shopping" for the project proponent, providing conservation and management for listed species in one simplified transaction. A bank can be created in a nu mber of different ways: (1) acquisition of existing habitat; (2) protection of existing habitat through conservation easements; (3) restoration or enhancements of disturbed habitat; (4) creation of new habitat in some situations; and (5) prescriptive management of habitats for specified biological characteristics. Banks can be created in association with specific projects, or can proceed from a circumstance where a project proponen t sets aside more area than is needed for the immediate project, or where th e specific p roject and is willing to p rotect the rem aining are a and th us gene rate credits, or w here the specific project is implemented over a longer period of time. A conservation bank can also be created as an entrepreneurial effort in anticipation of an independent customer base with a number of different potential projects.