Conservation collaboration prompts award for Extension specialists at UW | TSLN.com

Conservation collaboration prompts award for Extension specialists at UW

Three University of Wyoming Extension specialists have been recognized for their creativity in helping establish a market framework that encourages conservation and improves natural resources and wildlife.

Water resource economist specialist Kristi Hansen, community development specialist Roger Coupal and water resources specialist Ginger Paige received the Creative Excellence Recognition Award Wednesday during extension's annual professional development conference in Laramie.

The Wyoming Conservation Exchange began as a grassroots project in the Upper Green River Basin after landowners and rangeland managers at the Sublette County Conservation District (SCCD) began discussing how landowners might generate revenue from conservation practices that provide social and natural resource benefits beyond ranching.

The three specialists, along with SCCD and The Nature Conservancy, received money in 2011 from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to explore developing a payment for ecosystem services program.

The initial conservation exchange focuses on three ecosystem services: sage-grouse habitat, mule deer habitat and hydrologic services. Recently, the sage-grouse portion of the exchange has been expanded to the state level.

The Wyoming Conservation Exchange allows "buyers," for example energy companies seeking mitigation credits or organizations seeking habitat conservation, to pay "sellers" (landowners) for management practices that produce long-term outcomes.

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To learn more about the Wyoming Conservation Exchange, see bit.ly/wyomingconservationexchange or bit.ly/WCEforgood.

–Wyoming Extension

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