A Unique Solution for Pipeline Impacts to Bats and Migratory Birds
Due to the unavoidable impacts to approximately 2,800 acres of habitat for these species, Enbridge entered into a voluntary agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to mitigate for these impacts through the establishment of the Flanagan South Pipeline Mitigation Fund. This mitigation fund is managed by The Conservation Fund to protect and restore habitat for these high priority species.
THE CONSERVATION SOLUTION
The Conservation Fund conducted outreach with conservation partners in the four states to identify and protect properties of high conservation value that would benefit the species’ habitat impactedby the Flanagan South Pipeline. The Fund identified properties that met the mitigation objectives outlined by the USFWS.
The Fund has protected, and in some cases restored, a total of 14,751 acres of land. These lands have been protected and restored using the $21 million Flanagan South Pipeline Mitigation Fund plus complementary funding from partners, including state and federal land conservation programs and private foundations.
SODALIS NATURE PRESERVE
One of the most significant conservation outcomes achieved from the Flanagan South Mitigation Fund was protection and restoration efforts at the largest hibernaculum for Indiana bats in the US. The former limestone mine located in Hannibal, Missouri has a 17-mile network of passages that provide important hibernating habitat for an estimated 200,000 federally endangered Indiana bats (representing approximately one-third of the entire Indiana bat population).
Credit: Steve Orr
The Conservation Fund secured the entire property, which includes remnants of the underground mine system plus 185 surface acres. Restoration efforts included removal of buildings and other facilities associated with the mining operation (e.g., a railroad siding) on 2.5 acres, removal of trash and former mine debris and installation of bat-friendly gates at all 34 openings to the mine. Trees were replanted on the surface area formerly occupied by the mining operation. The Conservation Fund purchased the property in partnership with the City of Hannibal creating the Sodalis Nature Preserve. The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation holds a conservation easement on the property and a long-term stewardship fund was created for management of the property and maintenance of the bat-friendly gates.
Credit: Steve Orr
"Hannibal residents have embraced the new park. Everyday there are children, senior citizens, dogs, stroller and bicycles on the trail, using it for exercise and education. The whole endeavor has been a win-win situation for the city of Hannibal.”
—James Hark, Mayor of Hannibal, MO
Today, the Preserve is the second largest park in Hannibal. The creation of Sodalis Nature Preserve has not only protected important habitat for Indiana bats; it has increased opportunities for outdoor recreation in the City of Hannibal. The City has extended a paved hike/bike-handicapped accessible trail along Bear Creek to the Preserve and this paved trail now connects to nearly 6-miles of unpaved trails within the Preserve that are open to low impact, non-motorized use.
Credit: Whitney Flanagan
The Sodalis Nature Preserve also provides a hands-on outdoor laboratory for Hannibal students of all ages to observe and study bats. The City of Hannibal and the USFWS coordinate monitoring and management of bat populations in the mine to ensure the property will forever remain a nature preserve. The City of Hannibal also anticipates increases in tourism and resonating effects on the local economy as a result of the new park and bat habitat.
Director, Mitigation Solutions
Program Manager, Mitigation Solutions
Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, Conservation Acquisition