Eric Holst of the Environmental Defense Fund said Thursday the deal with Kinross Gold to offset impacts to the sage grouse by protecting nearly 10,000 acres of habitat couldn’t have come at a better time.
He said the Interior Department has set Nov. 27 as the deadline for comment on a plan to reopen federal sage grouse plans that have kept the bird off of the endangered species list.
“Ultimately, any move to undermine the plans would replace science with politics and put the threat of listing back on the table,” he said in a statement issued after the deal with Kinross was signed.
That deal is the first use of the Nevada Conservation Credit System that offsets impact to sage grouse habitat with long term protection of habitat. Holst said Colorado and Wyoming have developed similar conservation credit programs and those programs together have made it unnecessary for the bird to be listed as endangered.
He said those programs are a model for conservation efforts involving other wildlife in the country, proving solutions to prevent listing of different species can work without creating burdens on industry and landowners.
Kinross officials said the system is “an effective strategy for contributing to the conservation of the greater sage grouse population while providing regulatory certainty for companies that incur mitigation obligations as a result of their activities.”
Spokesman Beth Ericksen said Kinross Gold intends to implement conservation actions on nearly 10,000 acres of their ranch properties.