Mitigation banking is a practice in which landowners or project developers can preserve or restore wetlands and other natural features to offset environmental impacts. Wetland mitigation banking offers an opportunity to replace lost environmental functions within the same watershed as permitted impact sites, even if mitigation does not take place on-site. In this way it enhances the effects of environmental restoration by pooling offsets from multiple impacts into larger, more intensive, or more impactful restoration efforts than would be achievable by a collection of smaller, individual project-by-project environmental offset projects.
Generally, mitigation bank credit purchases are done to fulfil Federal, State or local government permit requirements. If these permits allow the loss of environmental function as a result of the built project, mitigation credits may be required to offset those losses. A combination of quantitative site assessment and mathematical formulas are used to:
- Score the baseline, pre-project environmental quality of the development site
- Quantify the impacts of the proposed project on the development site
- Determine the number of mitigation credits required at a given mitigation bank to offset the proposed impacts
The assessment methods and formulas used differ by jurisdiction. Typical jurisdictional lines that affect these method changes include:
- US Army Corps of Engineers Districts (based on major watershed boundaries)
- State boundaries
- Water management districts, coastal zones or other sub-State divisions. These vary significantly according to geography
Mitigation banking is the process where degraded wetlands or streams are speculatively restored by a person or entity, under an agreement with USACE and other agencies, according to specific guidelines and subject to performance metrics. That restoration will generate offset ‘credits’ that can then be purchased by anyone with unavoidable impacts to those resources.
The development process includes:
- Environmental studies to determine current and potential future conditions (Wetland Delineations, Threatened and Endangered Species Surveys, Stream Characterization and Assessments, etc.)
- Coordination with USACE and other federal and state agencies to establish project viability.
- Permitting to establish a bank or PRM site
- Completion of project design
- Completion of project construction
- Monitoring for credit releases
- Project close out and (if applicable) transfer to a long-term steward
Cypress has extensive experience with wetland delineations and jurisdictional determinations in US Army Corps of Engineers Districts throughout the United States. Our staff have performed hundreds of wetland delineations and wetland mapping studies up to 110,000 acres in size and hundreds of miles in length for linear projects, including projects for real estate developers, railways, transportation authorities, State/ Federal/ municipal governments, individual homeowners, civil engineering firms, construction firms and nonprofit organizations.
Texas Flat Mitigation Bank: 1985-acre wetland delineation (also endangered species survey, wetland function assessments, stream assessments, permitting, restoration planning)
Private Client: 200-mile linear delineation for utility corridor Mobile, AL to Jackson, MS (also endangered species survey, stream characterization, environmental assessment, permitting)
Turtleskin Creek Mitigation Bank: 2740-acre wetland delineation (also endangered species survey, wetland function assessments, stream assessments, permitting, restoration planning)