New grasslands conservation opportunity available

By: 
BRAD MOHRMANN

A new type of carbon credit program designed for long-term conservation initiatives such as conservation easements on grasslands is beginning to enroll landowners this year. The goal of this effort is to develop a pilot project designed to conserve grasslands and reduce potential greenhouse gas emissions from land conversion. The program could potentially pay landowners who are avoiding crop cultivation activities in concert with easement activity.
The United States has lost grasslands to cropland at accelerated rates in recent years. This conversion can lead to a number of environmental issues including loss of habitat, soil erosion, water pollution and release of greenhouse gases. By maintaining grasslands, landowners can enhance wildlife habitat, improve watershed health, and prevent the release of carbon into the atmosphere.
The new grassland protocol program is important because it rewards producers and landowners for implementing long-term measures to conserve grasslands. And they can potentially generate a new revenue stream through carbon credits while still maintaining livestock production. Moreover important grassland habitat will be maintained.
To be eligible for the project landowners must have either recently placed a conservation easement on their land, or be considering a conservation easement. Land will be matched to an analysis to determine eligibility at no cost. Eligibility factors include NRCS Major Land Resource Area components, soil texture, past land use, less than 10 percent tree canopy, and other factors. Land has to have been grasslands for at least 10 years.
To learn more about this project, contact Brad Mohrmann at (307) 673.4535 or brad.mohrmann@kcoe.com.

Brad Mohrmann is with K Coe Isom, a consulting firm with roots in rural communities.

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