Managing Mitigation Funds To Conserve Bird Habitat
As America’s demand for energy grows, providers are making major new investments in infrastructure. The emerging Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) is a prime example. When complete, this new 1,700-mile pipeline will stretch from Colorado to Ohio. By length and volume, REX will become one of North America’s largest natural gas pipelines.
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.
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 $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.