Wetland mitigation is the collective process of offsetting impacts to wetlands, streams, or other aquatic resources classified under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act through preservation, enhancement, restoration, and in some cases creation. Impacts can range from a building construction footprint impacting an isolated wetland to a road expansion through the swamp for the U.S. Military. A mitigation ‘bank’ is created through a formal agreement between a regulatory agency and a government agency, nonprofit organization, corporation, or any other entity. The bank establishes ‘credits’ which are then used to offset impacts. There are four components to a mitigation bank:
- The bank site: physical acreage of aquatic resources preserved, enhanced, or restored
- The bank instrument: formal agreement between the bank owners and regulators establishing liability, performance standards, monitoring requirements, and terms of credit approval
- The Interagency Review Team (IRT): a team of various regulators which review, approve, and oversee the bank
- The service area: geographic area in which permitted impacts can be compensated for through the bank – generally the 8 digit watershed
The Mitigation Sequence
Mitigation is actually the third step in a sequence of actions that are followed to offset impacts to aquatic resources. Naturally, step one is to avoid any potential impacts to aquatic resources; adjusting the footprint of a planned construction project for instance. If impacts cannot be avoided, step two is to minimize potential impacts to aquatic resources. An example of this would be to utilize a ‘bottomless culvert’ for a road crossing over a stream or creek, thereby minimizing impacts of construction and future disturbance to the aquatic system. Mitigation is used as a last resort when impacts to aquatic resources cannot be avoided. Mitigation is generally adapted on a watershed approach, and seeks to uphold the 1989 policy of a ‘no net loss’ of wetlands. In practice, this approach replaces each newly impacted aquatic resource with a replacement wetland of the same size with similar wetland functions and values.
Wetland mitigation is a useful and necessary tool for offsetting impacts to aquatic resources, often resulting in reestablishment of vast headwater wetlands that have been historically drained, and reconnection of first and zero order stream tributaries that were previously disconnected from their headwaters. Wetland mitigation also removes stressors to canals and downstream waters that were once susceptible to water quality impairments like nutrient loading, sediment run-off, and herbicide / pesticide contamination. Additionally, the mitigation process provides for increased flood water storage, increased hydrologic residency, and associated nutrient / sediment retention. Mitigation banks also often provide significant ecosystem benefits such as reestablishing species habitats and connectivity.
(4 years post construction)
How We Can Help
If you require wetland mitigation credits for your project, or are intrigued about the possibility of establishing a wetland mitigation bank for credit development, LMG is experienced in helping clients through the entire process involving site selection, acquisition, construction, and monitoring any size of wetland mitigation bank. LMG also has experience in managing the accounts and transfers of wetland mitigation credits so you can relax and enjoy the process. Call or click to speak with one of our knowledgeable professionals today!
910-452-0001 / www.LMGroup.net