The Conservation Fund successfully completed a project supported by a Section 6 Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund grant entitled “Determining Mitigation Needs for NiSource Natural Gas Transmission Facilities—Implementation of the Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP).”
As a complementary effort to NiSource’s development of a MSHCP, the Fund developed a geographic ecosystem-based decision support framework that helps find the best locations for mitigation for impacted federal listed species addressed by the MSHCP. Focus group meetings were conducted with state resource specialists in summer 2010 to help inform placement of mitigation opportunities as part of this project. This transparent, defensible decision-making process for selecting mitigation projects serves as a model for future strategic mitigation efforts to harmonize green and gray infrastructure.
The NiSource MSHCP decision support framework has four main elements:
- Identify mitigation needs: Establishing a transparent process to ensure that mitigation requirements are clearly defined and based on the best available science and stakeholder review.
- Design a green infrastructure network: Providing a framework for potential mitigation actions within a strategically planned, interconnected natural resource network, based on the latest peer reviewed science that also provides multiple ecosystem benefits.
- Establish mitigation project selection criteria: Defining criteria that are based on available resource data and that are applied in a logically consistent manner and are consistent with regulatory requirements.
- Evaluate and select the best projects: Developing a process to identify projects that provide the greatest benefit at the lowest cost within constrained budgets.