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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

The Service and The Nature Conservancy: Powerful Partners in Conservation

Region 3, September 16, 2013

The Nature Conservancy in Ohio has been and continues to be an important partner to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Field Office in Columbus. In recent years we have worked closely with The Nature Conservancy toward facilitating the identification and protection of high quality habitat for the federally endangered Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis).

 

As part of an effort to create a spatial representation of potential high quality Indiana bat habitat statewide, biologists in our office provided current and historic records of Indiana bat summer maternity colonies to GIS modelers at the conservancy. With these data, habitat descriptions, and life history information, the GIS modelers developed a predictive species distribution model of summer habitat suitability for the bat. This model not only provides another helpful tool to Ohio Field Office biologists when reviewing federal projects, but it also served as the basis for a pilot project in which specific sites throughout the state were identified as targeted conservation areas to benefit the Indiana bat and possibly other bat species that occur in Ohio. This information is particularly important as developers seek opportunities to offset impacts to bat habitat that result from construction of their projects.

The Nature Conservancy is becoming increasingly involved in compensatory mitigation for natural resources in Ohio. They are a potential sponsor for the state in-lieu-fee program currently under review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Interagency Review Team. In addition to this proposal, the conservancy is engaging in discussions with the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio FIeld Office, proposing a similar program to help offset impacts to bat habitat. With this growing initiative, The Nature Conservancy recently hired an experienced mitigation program manager and are becoming more involved in assisting state and federal agencies in Ohio to identify mitigation options to offset project impacts.

Our past collaborative initiatives have resulted in a solid foundation upon which we look forward to building in these important new areas.

 

Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov