Ecological Services
Southwest Region

Conservation Banking

Conservation banks are lands that are permanently protected and managed for endangered and threatened species. Species that are candidates for listing as endangered or threatened, or are otherwise at-risk may also be conserved through the establishment of conservation banks. In exchange for permanently protecting the land and managing it for these species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approves a specified number of credits that bank owners may sell. The credits approved within a conservation bank function to offset adverse impacts to these species that occurred elsewhere, sometimes referred to as off-site mitigation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published guidance for the Establishment, Use, and Operation of Conservation Banks (216 kB, PDF) in 2003.

For more information see:

- Regulatory In-lieu Fee and Bank Information Tracking System (RIBITS) - RIBITS tracks approved conservation and wetland mitigation banks. For information about approved conservation banks for endangered species in Texas access the RIBITS website. See below for detailed website use instructions.

- Conservation Banking, Incentives for Stewardship (1MB, PDF) - A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service informational pamphlet

- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Conservation Banking Website

Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo Mitigation Lands

Due to the ongoing loss of golden-cheeked warbler (GCWA) and black-capped vireo (BCVI) habitat and the mitigation requirements of Habitat Conservation Plans, there is a need for guidelines to establish consistency for habitat mitigation that effectively promotes the recovery of these species. The recovery plans for these species establish short-term and long-term criteria involving public and private lands to de-list the GCWA and down-list the BCVI. One of the long-term objectives in these recovery plans involves the preservation and protection of viable populations in these species’ recovery regions. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes that an effective strategy to conserve these species involves protecting large patches of habitat, as large patches are more resilient to other threats such as wildfires and less total habitat may be required to achieve recovery in a region with large contiguous patches of habitat versus smaller fragmented patches.

The documents below provide guidance for those involved in the establishment, management, and operation of GCWA and BCVI mitigation lands in Texas. The Service recommends that mitigation for these two species, for all mitigation options, meet the minimum standards and other recommendations described in “Guidelines for the Establishment, Management, and Operations of Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo Mitigation Lands.”

GCWA and BCVI Mitigation Guidance (724 KB, PDF)

GCWA Management Plan Outline (PDF - 27 KB, Word - 40 KB)

BCVI Management Plan Outline (PDF - 29 KB, Word - 40 KB)

Conservation Banking Agreement Template (PDF - 460 KB, Word - 152 KB)

RIBITS Instructions

Instructions for accessing approved conservation banks in the Austin, Texas Field Offices's area of responsibility through the Regulatory In-lieu fee and Bank Information Tracking System (RIBITS)

  1. Access RIBITS using the website above, instructions for downloading and installing security certificates are provided on the site as this site is hosted by DOD.
  2. On the lower left of the RIBITS main page choose to filter by FWS Field office and choose Austin under the drop down menu.
  3. On the upper left hand side choose "Existing banks & ILF sites", all approved banks within the Austin Field Office area of responsibility (both wetland/stream and species banks) will appear in the center of the screen.
  4. To see only USFWS approved conservation banks for listed species click the drop down arrow by “credit type” on top of the map and choose “species”.  Now only conservation banks with species credits will be displayed.
  5. Click on any one of the bank names and the information for that particular bank is shown on the screen. 
  6. To access the bank agreement and associated documents click on "cyber repository" on the upper right hand side of the screen.
  7. The bank agreement for that particular bank is now listed under "Documents for (Bank Name)".
  8. Click on the link and the document will open in full.


Last updated: April 27, 2020