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Each of Sodalis Nature Preserve’s 34 mine entrances has been gated to protect bats. Photo by Shauna Marquardt/USFWS.

Each of Sodalis Nature Preserve’s 34 mine entrances has been gated to protect bats. Photo by Shauna Marquardt/USFWS.

Mitigation Secures Largest Indiana Bat Hibernaculum

A former mine in Hannibal, Missouri, that shelters tens of thousands of hibernating Indiana bats will be protected in perpetuity, thanks to collaborative efforts of the Service, the City of Hannibal, The Conservation Fund and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Former Lime Kiln Mine and about 185 surrounding acres are now part of Sodalis Nature Preserve, secured with mitigation funding negotiated between the Service and Enbridge Energy for its Flanagan South pipeline project.

In negotiating the mitigation package, Service staff from the Columbia Missouri Ecological Service Field Office and the Regional Office established measures for avoiding and minimizing impacts to bat and migratory bird habitat from the 600-mile pipeline. For unavoidable habitat destruction, they worked with Enbridge to establish a $22 million habitat compensation fund. The Service partnered with national mitigation expert The Conservation Fund, which specializes in real estate transactions, to implement a land protection and restoration program to benefit migratory birds and Indiana bats. This forward-thinking decision allowed the Service and The Conservation Fund to work together to accomplish a portfolio of high-quality conservation projects, including protection of Lime Kiln Mine.

The mine passages provide hibernation habitat for at least 168,000 federally endangered Indiana bats, about one-third of all the Indiana bats known to exist. No other Indiana bat hibernaculum of this size occurs anywhere else in the world. Five other bat species are known to use the property, including the federally endangered gray bat and federally threatened northern long-eared bat. Each of the mine’s 34 entrances has been equipped with bat gates that allow movement of bats but reduce human disturbance of the bats.

The City of Hannibal took possession of the property in January and will oversee management of the lands around the former mine, with the Service in charge of monitoring the bat population. The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation holds a permanent conservation easement for the property and oversees an endowment fund for maintaining the gated entrances.

By Georgia Parham
Regional Office - External Affairs

Last updated: February 4, 2016