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Carbon Sequestration on Idaho Agriculture and Forest Lands

By: Michael Hoffman, Idaho Soil Conservation Commission

Climate change has become one of the biggest environmental concerns of our time. One of the most far reaching questions we have to deal with is how can we reduce our CO2 emissions when the global energy demand continues to increase. Individually, we probably can’t solve that problem, but collectively, we can help make a difference.

Carbon Sequestration marketing is bringing new conservation and economic opportunities to Idaho farmers, ranchers and foresters. Conservation efforts that remove atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), and sequester them in the soil will produce credits that can be sold in a new trading exchange. The Idaho Soil Conservation Commission (ISCC) is leading this effort on behalf of Idaho State landowners and operators.

You may already be using some of the conservation practices that can provide salable credits, or you may be thinking of making some cropping or land use changes. In either case, the annual sale of carbon credits may provide additional income for your operation, and also help the environment.

The ISCC, with the help of its Governor-appointed Carbon Sequestration Advisory Committee, has focused on five key components to further carbon trading in Idaho. Those five key components are: Public Information and Outreach, Carbon Trading Pilot Projects in Idaho, Research, Geologic Sequestration, and a Carbon Encumbrance Inventory. For the audience of this newsletter, I will just touch on the first two components.

Public Information and Outreach. The ISCC has enhanced its website http://www.scc.idaho.gov to include a “Carbon Sequestration” tab that will provide background information on legislation, workshop presentations, and meeting minutes, all related to the development of carbon sequestration and carbon trading.

The Idaho OnePlan website http://www.oneplan.org/ which is a wealth of information in and of itself, has also been enhanced to include a “Carbon Sequestration” tab that will link you to a landowner-friendly website that can help you get started on formulating a “carbon trade”. As interest levels grow on carbon trading, we will focus our efforts on more educational and informational based presentations and public workshops, like the one we are planning for on November 5th in Orofino, Idaho.

Carbon Trading Pilot Projects in Idaho The Nez Perce Tribe is currently implementing Idaho’s first forestry trade, aggregated through the National Carbon Offset Coalition (NCOC), and marketed on the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). The Clearwater Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) is working on an urban forestry carbon trading project with the cities of Moscow and Sandpoint. The High Country RC&D, the Three Rivers RC&D, along with several local Soil Conservation Districts in Eastern Idaho, are currently involved with the ISCC in working with a number of ranchers to develop and implement a rangeland and grassland pilot project. All of the above mentioned pilot trades have all been aggregated through NCOC and marketed through the CCX.

The Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association (PNDSA) and Idaho farmers are currently participating in cropland trades involving no-till/direct seed and precision agriculture. These trades are brokered privately and directly with the buyers. These trades are known as “over the counter” (OTC) or boutique trades.

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