Banking on Habitat

Federal policy could drive investment in Montana.

On November 3, the White House released a Presidential Memorandum that mandates federal agencies to give preference to advance compensation mechanisms that are likely to achieve environmental performance standards prior to any adverse impacts. In other words, mitigation and conservation banks will be the priority option to offsetting unavoidable environmental impacts. Trout Headwaters, based in Livingston, welcomes this directive and believes the new guidance will not only ensure high standards and best practices across all federal agencies and departments entrusted with environmental regulatory authority, but will also enable increased private investment in restoration and conservation, providing a powerful tool to meet today’s growing environmental challenges.

What does that mean for Montana?
The U.S. restoration industry now creates more than 120,000 jobs and nearly $10 billion in direct economic activity every year. Montana has many private firms and nonprofits that are a part of this burgeoning industry. “With this new and coordinated policy, private investment in conservation, restoration, and preservation is likely to grow significantly," according to Michael Sprague, CEO of Trout Headwaters. As a long-time champion for clean water and quality habitats, former president for the National Mitigation Banking Association, and former vice president for the Western Sustainability Exchange, Sprague believes this new guidance reduces risk and increases clarity for restoration work and investment in environmental projects to benefit water, wildlife, and other resources. “As a now 20-year veteran in this space,” Sprague said, “I’m convinced this Presidential Initiative is one of the single most important advancements imaginable for the fast-growing ecological restoration industry and that is great news for both Montana’s economy and ecology.”

Restoration and conservation investments require predictability to attract the innovation and capital of third-party providers, as well as to provide certainty to consumers of compensatory mitigation credits. “Trout Headwaters wholly supports the Presidential Memorandum and we will continue to work diligently with federal agencies to repair and maintain our nation’s precious natural resources,” Sprague added.

Trout Headwaters has always employed science-based, accountable practices to address a wide range of environmental issues across the U.S. Going forward, this work will increasingly include offsets for impacts to species habitats, natural resource damages from oil and chemical spills, diminished water quality, and the need for green infrastructure protection to combat extreme weather events including storms, floods, and drought.

Trout Headwaters, Inc. is an industry leader in sustainable approaches to stream, wetland, and habitat restoration, renewal, and repair.