Grass banking is a relatively new practice where property owners lease land to ranchers at a discount in exchange for ranchers to carry out conservation-related projects on their pastures. The agreement enables ranchers to stay in business by providing their cattle with fresh sources of grass and their heavily grazed land with a much needed rest. At the same time, it gives the landowners -- usually groups with an interest in conservation -- an opportunity to preserve more land than they'd normally be able to.
One visible proponent of grass banking is the Nature Conservancy. The environmental group has entered into several successful grass banking agreements throughout the western United States, finding it a valuable tool in its mission to preserve wildlife by conserving the land. One such grass bank in Montana at the Matador Ranch is helping to protect vital habitat for dozens of species of native animals.