New Bank Approval – Pennsylvania’s First Bat Conservation Bank
Statewide Bank Offers a New Kind of Advance Compensatory Mitigation Mechansim for Indiana Bat Habitats
December 21, 2018
RES, the nation’s largest environmental solutions provider, has received approval from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) for Pennsylvania’s first bat conservation bank. It is also the state’s first species conservation bank, and represents several years of close coordination with the USFWS to define and create greater certainty and predictability for projects requiring bat habitat mitigation.
To create the Pennsylvania Statewide Bat Conservation Bank, RES coordinated with the USFWS Pennsylvania field office over the course of three years to select a site, develop a crediting methodology, and finalize the first endangered species conservation banking instrument in the State.
The bank is located within the known range of the Indiana bat and includes more than 438 contiguous acres of high quality habitat used by two Indiana bat maternity colonies. Although Indiana bats have experienced significant population declines due to a malady known as white-nose syndrome, the Indiana bat maternity colonies in Washington and Greene Counties persist.
“Conservation banking creates a collaborative incentive-based approach where habitat for listed species is treated as an asset rather than a liability,” said Elliott Bouillion, President and CEO of RES. “By permanently protecting high-quality forested habitat in a critical Indiana bat habitat zone, the bank provides an advanced compensatory mitigation mechanism to support economic development while complying with the Endangered Species Act and the relevant federal mitigation initiatives.”
“The conservation bank provides high-quality, self-sustaining bat habitat to offset statewide impacts to the federally listed Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and its habitat in a biologically significant area,” said Dr. Alex Silvis, Ecologist and Qualified Bat Biologist for RES.
The maternity area includes three partially conjoined maternity colonies consisting of primary and alternate roost trees and the surrounding 2.5-3-mile foraging habitat (USFWS 2016). Acoustic surveys on the site indicate the likely presence of 8 bat species in addition to Indiana bats, including Northern long-eared (Myotis septentrionalis) and Tri-colored bats (Perimyotis subflavus).
In addition to providing extremely high-quality bat habitat, the bank site abuts two known Biodiversity areas identified by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and hosts the only known Mixed-Mesophysic Forest Target Plant Community (an extremely rich terrestrial community type on deep soils in protected concave coves or lower slopes) in Greene County, PA. The site is also within the known range of one endangered plant (Nuttall’s Hedge-nettle, Stachys cordata) and at least three special concern plant species (Single-headed Pussy-toes (Antennaria solitaria), American Beakgrain (Diarrhena americana), and Leaf-cup (Smallanthus uvedalius)).
The objectives of this project support the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (87 Stat. 884, as amended; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), which was enacted to ensure the protection of endangered species such as the Indiana bat. This objective is also consistent with the policies described in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mitigation Policy (46 FR 7644-7663, January 23, 1981) and Guidance for the Establishment, Use, and Operation of Conservation Banks (68 FR 24753, May 8, 2003).
Bank and site details are available on the RES project website.