Ecosystem Services

We encourage the development of ecosystem services projects on state trust land. Current projects include:

  • Environmental mitigation markets for water
  • Environmental mitigation markets for biodiversity (wildlife)

We're most interested in commercial mitigation bank opportunities in which we provide a project site that will be developed by a qualified bank sponsor.

Contact Mindy Gottsegen at mindy.gottsegen@state.co.us or 303-866-3454 x3318 to discuss leasing opportunities. 

Ecosystem water

Q&A

The State Land Board is very interested in partnering with ecosystem service mitigation bankers to develop mitigation projects on school trust assets. The Board is actively working to identify which of its state trust land properties appear to be suitable for mitigation projects and is reaching out to mitigation bank developers it can partner with to create new projects.  The State Land Board is interested in mitigation projects involving the water, biodiversity and carbon markets.

The State Land Board's GIS Map Server can be used to identify all State Trust Lands.  Existing leases and encumbrances can be seen by clicking on the appropriate interactive layers.  Once potential locations have been identified, mitigation bankers or project developers are encouraged to contact the Conservation Services Manager to further discuss the viability of individual parcels.

Ecosystem service leases are typically a two-stage process: a two- or three-year Planning Lease and a long-term Ecosystem Services Lease. Each lease type requires a Ecosystem Services application along with a $100 application fee.

A Planning Lease is intended for the due diligence phase of a project.  The Planning Lease allows a lessee to pursue due diligence to see if the site is ultimately suitable for a mitigation bank project.  This includes conducting necessary background studies, meetings with regulatory agencies, and negotiation of mitigation bank lease terms with the State Land Board.  Planning Leases also allow a project developer an exclusive right to negotiate an Ecosystem Services Lease on the property.  Planning lease terms are typically one to two years in length.  Planning Leases do not allow for surface disturbance on the property and do not require Board approval. Payment for Ecosystem Services projects that are voluntary and do not involve a federal agency.

An Ecosystem Services Lease covers any ground disturbance and the active banking period of a mitigation bank project.  The Ecosystem Services lease requires Board approval and may be tied to, among other things, approval of the project by the appropriate regulatory agency involved with the project.  Typical exhibits to a Production Lease include legal description of the conservation easement area, draft conservation easement, and banking agreement.

In addition to the $100 application fee, annual rent structures are based on the type of ecosystem services project.  Small projects that do not involve mandatory mitigation programs are likely to involve an annual lease payment only.  Larger projects that involve the sale and/or transfer of mitigation or conservation credits will involve an Ecosystem Services lease that includes provisions for sharing the gross revenue from the sale of such credits.  See the State Land Board’s Fees & Payment Considerations schedule for details.

The length of an Ecosystem Services Lease term is typically 10 years.

A discussion with the Conservation Services Manager is encouraged.  Prior to the meeting, the applicant should prepare a map that shows the general location of the proposed mitigation project and a description of the proposed mitigation bank, the number of expected credits and its proposed service area.

Following consultation on the proposed location and with direction from the Conservation Services Manager,  the applicant will need to submit an application for a Planning Lease. Planning Leases are approved at the staff level and take approximately 7-10 days to process.

Not without express written approval.  A Planning Lease allows a lessee to tie up the property and conduct basic due diligence. It does not grant a right to access the property or conduct studies that will require surface disturbance (surveys, soils studies, wind studies, etc).  In order to access the property a Planning Lessee must obtain a Temporary Access Permit, stating the specific date and purpose of access.  These permits are administered by staff and can be completed within 24 hours.  Access to State Trust Lands requires proof of insurance by the person or company accessing the property, with the State Land Board named as an additional insured.  Studies that will disturb the surface (soils or water testing) will require an exploration lease rider.

An Exploration Permit provides a lessee permission to conduct testing that will necessarily disturb the surface (e.g. soils and water testing).  Exploration Permits require detailed information on the nature of the testing and location of the surface disturbance.  A bond is also required to ensure remediation of the surface upon completion of the disturbance. The bond will be released upon completion of the work, remediation of the property and inspection by State Land Board staff.  Contractors conducting such testing will be required to provide proof of insurance with the State Land Board named as an additional insured.

Yes, the State Land Board has its own standard lease form.

Depending on the project, both may be required for Ecosystem Services leases.  See the State Land Board’s Bonding FAQs for more information or contact the Ecosystems Services Manager for details on specific requirements associated with performance bonds and insurance coverage.

Unless subject to an exemption, the Ecosystem Services lease and lease application and any information provided to the State are subject to public release through the Colorado Open Records Act, § 24-72-201, C.R.S., et seq.