Grassland Project Protocol

Over the past several years, the Reserve has been evaluating opportunities to develop carbon offset protocols for activities that increase or avoid the loss of organic carbon stored in soils:

  • In 2010, the Reserve commissioned an issue paper evaluating a possible protocol for crediting soil carbon sequestration associated with the application of biochar. Based on the findings of the issue paper, however, we elected not to pursue protocol development.
  • In early 2011, the Reserve convened a workgroup to explore development of a Cropland Management Project Protocol for quantifying soil carbon enhancements due to changes in tillage practices. This effort was suspended after further analysis and consultation with stakeholders.
  • In November 2012, the Reserve adopted the Forest Project Protocol Version 3.3, which includes a methodology to account for net soil carbon emissions and sequestration in forests. This work may help to inform future development of soil carbon protocols for non-forest projects.

Continuing with these investigations, in early 2012 the Reserve commissioned an issue paper related to two types of land-use change activities: avoided conversion of grasslands and conversion of croplands to grasslands. Based on the completed issue paper and internal scoping and research activities, the Reserve has decided to move forward with the development of a protocol to address grassland projects in the United States.

The background research paper for soil carbon storage in grassland is available below.

Public Comment Workshop

The Reserve is hosting a workshop on April 28, 2015 to discuss and answer stakeholder questions on the draft protocol (to be released mid-April). The workshop is free, open to the public, and will be held in person at our annual conference, Navigating the American Carbon World, in Los Angeles. The workshop will also be broadcast via webinar if you cannot attend the meeting in person; please register using the link below.

Grassland Project Protocol Version 1.0 Public Comment Workshop
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm PDT
Mediterranean Room
Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles
506 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Register Here for the Webinar
Register using the fields below to attend in person:

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Organization (required)

Public Comment Period

The public comment period for the Grassland Project Protocol will take place from mid-April to mid-May. Reserve staff will review and respond to public comments in writing and implement any necessary protocol changes before the protocol is presented to the Reserve’s Board.

Please email with any questions about the comment submission process.


The Reserve is working closely with a multi-stakeholder workgroup to develop the Grassland Project Protocol. The workgroup includes industry representatives, federal agency personnel, environmental organizations, verifiers, and expert consultants. The workgroup includes representatives from:

Colorado State University SES, Inc.
Ducks Unlimited, Inc. The Climate Trust
Environmental Defense Fund The Nature Conservancy
Environmental Services, Inc. USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service

Workgroup Meetings

Workgroup meetings are open to the public. Interested stakeholders can join the workgroup calls as an “observer” and listen to the workgroup discuss important issues for protocol development. Observers will not have the ability to participate in calls but will be able to stay informed by listening to the conversations as they unfold. If you are planning to participate as an observer and would like to receive workgroup meeting notices, send a message to Workgroup meeting dates will also be posted below, as soon as they are scheduled.

Workgroup Meeting 5
February 4, 2015
Reserve Presentation
Meeting Video
GPP Companion Tables
Grassland Draft PIA
Grassland Draft Indemnification Agreement
Grassland Draft Access Easement
Grassland Project Protocol – Workgroup Comment Draft – Not for Public Comment
This workgroup comment draft of the protocol is not open for public comment. It is simply being used as a tool for discussion during the workgroup meeting. The protocol is expected to be released for public comment in Spring of 2015.

Workgroup Meeting 4
December 4, 2014
Reserve Presentation
Meeting Video

In-Person Workgroup Meeting 3
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Reserve Presentation
Meeting Video
Grassland Project Protocol – Preliminary Draft – Not for Comment
This preliminary draft of the protocol is not open for public comment. It is simply being used as a tool for discussion during the in-person workgroup meeting. The protocol is expected to be released for public comment in Spring of 2015.

Workgroup Meeting 2
September 3, 2014
Reserve Presentation
Meeting Video

Workgroup Kick-Off Meeting
July 9, 2014
Reserve Presentation
Meeting Video

Protocol Development

The following timeline will be updated, if needed, as the process moves forward.

Workgroup formation June 2014
Protocol drafting June 2014 – February 2015
In-person workgroup meeting October 2014
Public comment period March – April 2015
Protocol adoption July 2015

On May 2, 2014, the Reserve issued a Request for Proposals for a technical contractor to assist with protocol development as well as a call for stakeholder interest in participation in an expert working group. Those documents can be found below (the deadline has passed and submissions are closed).

Reserve staff will work with the selected contractor and the stakeholder workgroup to develop the draft protocol during 2014.


General agriculture protocol development and soil carbon background papers, which may be applicable to a grassland protocol, are available below.

Soil Carbon Scoping Meetings

The Reserve hosted two public meetings in Minneapolis, MN on February 26, 2013 and Sacramento, CA on March 6, 2013. The same content was presented at both meetings and the presentations are available below.

February 26
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM (CST)

The Nature Conservancy
1101 West River Parkway, Suite 200
Minneapolis, MN
Reserve Scoping Meeting Presentation
Meeting Video

March 6
12:30 PM – 4:30 PM (PST)

University of California (UC) Center Sacramento
1130 K Street, Lower Level Conference Room B
Sacramento, CA
Reserve Scoping Meeting Presentation

This meeting was not recorded as a webinar; please see the Minneapolis meeting video.

If you have questions about the Grassland Project Protocol, please contact Max DuBuisson at or the Policy Team at 213-891-1444 x3 or