Pennsylvania Statewide Bat Conservation Bank
- Greene County
The Pennsylvania Statewide Bat Conservation Bank is the first U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)-approved species Conservation Bank of its kind in Pennsylvania. Over the course of three years, RES collaborated with the USFWS Pennsylvania field office to select a site, develop a crediting methodology, and finalize the first endangered species conservation banking instrument in the State. The purpose of the Pennsylvania Statewide Bat Conservation Bank (Bank) is to provide and protect high-quality self-sustaining bat habitat to offset statewide impacts to the federally listed Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and its habitat. This objective supports 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). Conservation banking creates a collaborative incentive-based approach where habitat for listed species is treated as an asset rather than a liability.
By permanently protecting high-quality forested habitat in a critical Indiana bat habitat zone, the Pennsylvania Statewide Bat Conservation Bank provides an advance compensatory mitigation mechanism to support the Endangered Species Act and the relevant federal mitigation initiatives. 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 areas in Washington and Greene Counties persist. 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).
In addition to providing extremely high-quality bat habitat, the Pennsylvania Statewide Bat Conservation Bank site abuts two known Biodiversity areas identified by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and hosts the Mixed-Mesophysic Forest Target Plant Community, an extremely rich terrestrial community type on deep soils in protected concave coves or lower slopes only in Greene County, PA. The Site also includes the known range of one endangered plant (Nuttall’s Hedge-nettle, Stachys cordata) and four special concern plant species (Single-headed Pussy-toes (Antennaria solitaria), American Beakgrain (Diarrhena americana), and Leaf-cup (Smallanthus uvedalius).