Grassbanking

'Grassbanking' is an innovative method of protecting grazing lands and wildlife habitat pioneered in the southwestern United States by the Malpai Borderlands Group and the Animas Foundation.

These groups faced the problem of trying to reintroduce the effects of recurrent low-intensity fire to their grassland ecosystems. Their solution was to use the Animas Foundation's ranch and its associated grazing lease as a 'grassbank.' Participating ranchers could graze cattle there while restoration activities took place on their home property. In exchange, these ranchers granted a conservation easement on their own property which prevented subdivision. Grazing on the 'grassbank' was carefully managed, fire and brush-clearing worked to renew productive and ecological health on the easement lands, and the easements prevented subdivision and conversion of the area's grasslands.

There is an Albertan example of a version of a grassbanking project. The Nature Conservancy of Canada - Alberta launched a pilot project on a ranch they own in Southern Alberta called the Sandstone Ranch. By maintaining and enhancing natural capital on their own ranches or farms, program participants have the opportunity to earn stewardship credits that can be used to partially off-set grazing fees to access and graze on the Sandstone Ranch.



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