Managing Mitigation Funds to Conserve Bird Habitat
Despite careful planning to minimize its impact, this expansive construction will affect vulnerable migratory bird habitat across a 639-mile pipeline section called REX East. To compensate for the loss of interior forest and secure a construction permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Rockies Express LLC—a business owned by Kinder Morgan, Sempra and Conoco Phillips—agreed to establish a mitigation fund managed by an independent, trusted conservation partner. The conservation goal: advance landscape-level conservation of forest habitat and riparian corridors favored by certain migratory birds. The business goal: expedite permitting to complete the project and bring new energy supplies to a waiting market.
A Trusted Conservation Partner
In 2008, The Conservation Fund was chosen to lead these efforts. At the request of its long-time partner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we established the Rockies Express Migratory Bird Account: A one-time $4 million fund to support projects that conserve forestland across Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. As account manager, we evaluate and provide grants to conservation projects, preserving habitat for vulnerable bird species in America’s heartland.
We completed the program in 2014 with impressive results:
- A total of 14 grants made to land trusts, local municipalities and state agencies.
- More than 17,300 acres protected and restored—four times more than the 3,721 acres Rockies Express was required to mitigate.
- An additional $19 million in funding brought in from other sources for these projects.
- Countless number of Cerulean Warblers, Hooded Warblers, Worm-eating Warblers, Kentucky Warblers, Bewick’s Wrens and other forest-dwelling avian species given permanent space to rest their wings.
In our rapidly growing country, energy infrastructure is a necessity. But development doesn’t have to come at the cost of the environment. Smart mitigation solutions provide balance and offer opportunities for strategic conservation. We have more than 20 years’ experience facilitating dozens of mitigation projects with energy and infrastructure developers. Learn more about our successes here.
Why This Project Matters
“Using these grants to help protect habitat shows it’s possible to develop energy infrastructure in an environmentally sound manner. The choice isn’t, and rarely should be, between wildlife or development, but rather how we accommodate both needs in a holistic manner.”
—Tom Melius, Midwest Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service