Jagers Ranch Grasslands ConservationHB
Project Type: Biodiversity & Wildlife Protection, Carbon Sequestration
Project Structure: Help BuildTM
Location: Bent County, Colorado
Standard: Climate Action Reserve Grassland Protocol
Climate Impact: 96,000 tonnes CO2e
Area: 6,900 acres in Colorado
Grasslands store one-third of the earth’s carbon. Just one acre of grassland can store an estimated 200 tonnes of carbon or more. Yet in the U.S., grasslands are at risk of conversion to croplands or development and when disturbed, release 50%-70% of the carbon they hold as the greenhouse gas CO₂. With 1 million acres lost each year, half of the grassland carbon reservoirs have already been lost.
It is possible to protect grasslands that are under imminent threat of conversion to cropland, keep carbon in soils, and conserve the habitats and biodiversity the American prairie provides.
Project supporters enable Southern Plains Land Trust, a local organization dedicated to preserving shortgrass prairie, to acquire and conserve 6,900 acres of the Jagers Ranch in southeastern Colorado in February 2020. The ranch is deemed to face an imminent threat of conversion to cropland, given its soils are suitable for farming and cropland rental rates in Bent County for winter wheat, milo, sorgum, alfalfa and other row crops, are more than five times pastureland rates. A permanent conservation easement will preserve Jagers Ranch and avoid conversion of the land to farming or development. This will prevent an estimated 190,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere over the next fifty years.
“NativeEnergy’s unique investment structure provides finance when we need it most, enabling us to purchase Jagers Ranch and accelerate our ability to conserve shortgrass prairie throughout Colorado,” explains Nicole Rosmarino, Executive Director of the Southern Plains Land Trust. More than 97% of native grasslands in the United States has been lost, and while the sale of carbon credits assists in land conservation, selling a small number of credits each year fails to generate upfront capital when it is needed to acquire land. NativeEnergy’s Help Build TM model changes this. Upfront payments change capital flows and bring early financing to local organizations before they acquire land and easements, better equipping them to conserve Colorado’s last remaining prairie lands at pace and scale.
Companies that support this project receive verified carbon credits from the first twenty years of the fifty year project period, consistent with the Climate Action Reserve’s Grassland Protocol.
Impacts & Benefits
This project will help halt the loss of the remaining 50% of Colorado’s shortgrass prairie, an ecosystem being lost at a rate higher than any other type of ecosystem in the state and linked to the decline of several animal species. With the conservation of Jagers Ranch, re-introduced bison and black-tailed prairie dogs help limit shrub and tree encroachment and preserve habitats for native swift fox, ferruginous hawks, burrowing owls, elk, pronghorn antelope and the mountain plover. The prairie grasslands are also home to Colorado green gentian and other rare, threatened or endangered species.
The Jagers Ranch will be accessible, through Southern Plains Land Trust, for educational events in collaboration with local public schools and the historical society.
The 6,900 acres to be purchased with the investment from the project supporters is the first of a plan to eventually purchase a total 24,500 acres adjacent to an existing 18,000 acre preserve. By enabling this first purchase, supporters ensure Southern Plains Land Trust maintains its option to purchase and conserve the entire 24,500 acres.
Validation & Verification
The project will be verified against the Climate Action Reserve Grassland Protocol. To assure the permanence of the sequestration, Jagers Ranch will have a permanent conservation easement, a 150-year agreement with the Climate Action Reserve, and be included in an insurance pool that covers any unintentional reversals. Easements prevent conversion to cropland, but allow existing livestock grazing to continue.
To provide upfront payments for local land trusts to acquire and permanently conserve prairie grasslands, NativeEnergy will estimate and forward sell carbon credits (Carbon Reserve Tonnes) in 2019 and 2020. With this forward sale, Southern Plains Land Trust will purchase the property in early 2020. Credits from the American Prairie Avoided Conversion conserved prairie lands will be third-party verified and the first credits will be issued in 2020.