The Colorado Habitat Exchange will provide incentives and certainty to landowners to conserve the greater sage-grouse habitat. It is a pro-active, collaborative solution to help steer the greater sage-grouse toward recovery, while also enabling energy development and agricultural activities.For landowners, the Colorado Habitat exchange will offer the ability to earn new income by voluntarily creating and/or maintaining habitat critical to greater sage-grouse. For industry, the Colorado Habitat Exchange will offer mitigation opportunities that are quantifiable and that can streamline regulatory approvals. For all, the Colorado Habitat Exchange will mean continued economic development and job creation, in addition to scientifically robust, long-term conservation of habitat and wildlife.
The Colorado Habitat Exchange was designed through unprecedented collaboration among sage-grouse stakeholders. The partnership that helped developed the exchange includes Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado State Land Board, Partners for Western Conservation, and Environmental Defense Fund.
The Colorado Habitat Exchange includes a manual — a guidance document that contains materials necessary for current and potential participants to understand and participate in the Exchange. The Exchange manual defines consistent direction for specific technical and policy considerations that arise during the generation and sale of credits, determination of debits, and management of the Exchange. The Exchange manual is managed and revised by the Exchange administrator with approval from an oversight committee made up of representatives of industry, landowners, environmental groups and state and federal agencies.
The Colorado Habitat Exchange includes a habitat quantification tool, which is used to estimate the condition, or habitat value, of a given location on the landscape for greater sage-grouse.
The tool uses a “functional acre” approach, applied through a set of measurements and methods that relate to the habitat attributes influencing greater sage-grouse selection of seasonal habitats across varying spatial and temporal scales (Stiver et al. 2010). The purpose of the habitat quantification tool is to serve as a means of quantifying the change in condition of habitats for greater sage-grouse resulting from management action — either as an impact (debit) or as a benefit (credit) in the Colorado Habitat Exchange.