Environmental Policy Innovation Center

The Environmental Policy Innovation Center is a Sand County Foundation-sponsored project to develop creative policies that improve water quality, speed endangered wildlife recovery, expand conservation practices on private lands and provide solutions that allow water, energy and other essential infrastructure to move forward while benefiting natural resources. 

The Innovation Center is focused on creating an organizational culture and business model in which creative ideas to improve U.S. and state natural resource policies can flourish.  Much of the innovation that is most needed will allow conservation to be delivered at the velocity and volume needed to match today’s conservation challenges. 

The Innovation Center’s policy work will focus on the expansion of environmental markets, building state and federal programs that encourage the use of pay-for-success contracting, create more predictable opportunities for large scale conservation finance investments, and incentive-based policies that encourage proactive conservation, reduce conflict and speed the achievement of national and regional conservation goals.  Finding ways to make infrastructure and economic development permitting faster and more efficient while avoiding or offsetting environmental impacts is essential to America’s future prosperity and to protecting future generations’ natural legacy.

The Innovation Center grew out of an earlier successful project – Mission:Wildlife – and expands upon that project’s earlier work focused on more effective wildlife policies that speed wildlife recovery, benefit private lands and reduce costs to communities and businesses. 

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Landowner Assurances Under the ESA

Landowner Assurances Under the ESA,” is the first in a series of working papers authored by wildlife legal expert, Michael J. Bean.  This paper reviews the diversity of tools that have been developed to give private landowners reasonable assurances associated with the Endangered Species Act and that have allowed thousands of landowners, local government and businesses to become partners in endangered species conservation efforts or leaders in conservation plans that balance wildlife needs and economic development. 

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Nature, Paid on Delivery

"Nature, Paid on Delivery” looks at initiatives by the states of Louisiana, Maryland, California and Nevada that bring private, for-profit investment and companies into the work of delivering environmental outcomes for state agencies. These initiatives use an innovative ‘pay for success’ approach in which taxpayers don’t pay for restoration work until the companies deliver on predetermined performance metrics. The examples in these states show the potential of such contracting to  the expand and speed conservation across the country.

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Evaluating planning successes for the conservation of the Arctic grayling

“Evaluating planning successes for the conservation of the Arctic grayling” reviews how a candidate conservation agreement helped keep the species from needing listing under the Endangered Species Act. Ranchers on the Big Hole River in Montana voluntarily changed their management so the Arctic grayling is recovering. This is a striking example that landowners elsewhere can follow to recover other rare species in this nation.

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Expanding Opportunities for Threatened Species Conservation through Section 4(d) of the ESA

Expanding Opportunities for Threatened Species Conservation through Section 4(d) of the ESA explains in simple language the way 4(d) Rules work and recommends practical improvements to that section of the ESA. Underwritten by Sand County Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, this important new Mission:Wildlife report explores better ways to protect, conserve and when needed, recover more species of concern, faster and with less social and economic disruption.

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An analysis of a proposed Fish and Wildlife Service policy on Critical Habitat Exclusions

An analysis of a proposed Fish and Wildlife Service policy on Critical Habitat Exclusions provides organizations and individuals who have an interest in endangered species issues with a better understanding of the implications of this new policy and a set of recommendations for improvements to it. Read more about it here. 

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A report from Mission:Wildlife and Sand County Foundation

A report from Mission:Wildlife and Sand County Foundation provides a summary of a US Fish and Wildlife Service draft policy on species credits, and suggests ways it should be improved to create significantly greater benefits for wildlife, landowners and businesses. Read more about the draft policy here.

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More Information

More on Mission:Wildlife’s work can be read in in the Wall Street Journal, Seattle Times, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Hill newspapers.

For more information, please contact:  

Timothy Male    
(240) 274-0341

PHOTO: Gregory Breese, USFWS


The charitable work of the Environmental Policy Innovation Center is made possible, in part, by supporters like you. Please consider making a donation through the donate section of our website. Checks may be made payable to “Sand County Foundation” at 131 W. Wilson Street, Suite 610, Madison, WI 53703 with “Environmental Policy Innovation Center” noted on the check.