The first private species conservation bank in Colorado, Table Top Conservation Bank, is gearing up for credit sales in (2017). TTCB is a private-public partnership between the Colorado State Land Board and Conservation Investment Management, an investment firm specialized in conservation finance. The bank is located on a state-owned parcel in Larimer County. The bank will provide credits for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, a species that is protected in Colorado under the Endangered Species Act. Credits are awarded to the bank by the US Fish and Wildlife Service based on habitat improvements that will be implemented on the property, such as grazing management and revegetating riparian areas. Developers in the surrounding area can purchase TTCB credits to offset their impacts to mouse habitat. The credits are expected to be particularly valuable for the developers of water projects such as dams and reservoirs, and to communities in the County.
CIM initially approached the Colorado State Land Board with the prospect of developing a species bank on state land and provided the biological, financial and mitigation banking expertise to transform the idea into a reality. WRA conducted a natural asset opportunity assessment to identify high potential parcels for development of the species bank within the 2.88 million acres of land owned by the SLB. Once a parcel was identified, WRA and CIM worked with local scientists to develop a restoration and management plan for the site and quantified the number of credits that would likely be awarded to the bank, based on habitat improvements. The final step of the opportunity assessment was to perform a financial analysis to project TTCB’s profits over time. This analysis informed the State Land Board’s decision-making and the structuring of the deal between the SLB and CIM in jointly developing this bank.
In many ways, TTCB is paving the way for future species conservation banks in Colorado. The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat restoration and management plan that will be developed by WRA and local scientists can be used to facilitate the development of similar plans for other mouse banks or projects. Additionally, WRA developed a set of templates for a Conservation Bank Agreement (the regulatory approval document) to meet the requirements of the USFWS in Colorado’s Mountain-Prairie Region. Other bank developers will have access to these templates and can benefit from the lessons learned through TTCB’s regulatory approval process.