Introduction


Concept:

Mitigation banking is the transformation of land into resourceful wetland terrain that is used for establishing, restoring, and preserving the land and surrounding territories qualified to compensate for unavoidable impacts that companies have had on other lands.[1] These become permanently protected mitigation banks, which under certain codes and regulations, are guided to create either wetland or stream banks. Mitigation banking serves as an increase in biodiversity as it continuously adds more aspects that attract wildlife. In being more diverse, the ecological aspects increases as more organisms influence the area. Being larger than normal mitigations, these banks can be flexible and each habitat quality increases as more planning goes into restoring the greater part of the banking area.wetland-mitigation-banking.jpg

Components of Banking:

Bank site

The physical terrain acreage that the mitigating covers is considered the banking site.[2] These sites are carefully studied by the Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) to determine if the area is adequate in its physical, biological and chemical characteristics to support the desired function it is being used for. Many factors are to be considered when considering the site for the banks. Such factors include the banks compatibility with the surrounding lands, the size and location of the sites ecological features, and the hydraulic sources the site offers.

Bank Instrument

A Bank Instrument is the establishment of liabilities, standards, and requirements in an agreement between the banker and the regulator.[3] With these establishments, there is also a set of bank credit approvals that need to be managed by both groups carefully. These approvals regulate the acreage, the function, and other standards that the banker and regulator have to abide by. If these approvals are not met, either the banker or regulator may be fined, or other consequences may be applied. Some companies still break regulations and standards in order to save money, because even though the world would be better if regulations were kept and standards maintained, some regulations are expensive, and certain corporations decide not to follow them in order save on expenses.

Interagency Review Team (IRT)

Fortunately, there are groups of people who review, approve, and oversee the process of a mitigation bank development.[4] These corporations make sure when a mitigation bank is created, it is properly set up to support wildlife and vegetation. Throughout the life of the bank, the bank's IRTs are in charge of the implementation and success of the bank, and if there are any abnormalities, the IRT is responsible for ensuring the restoration of the bank.

Service Area

The service area is the area in which bank services can be applied, given that each bank is compensating for the land that is being impacted.[5] For example, if a company was destroying a certain amount of land, the geographical location of the new bank that compensated for the destroyed land is known as the service area.

Improvement


Awareness:
Mitigation market.jpg
A glimpse of where and how much mitigation banking is impacting the United States.

The biggest improvement that can be implemented at anytime, is the awareness factor for mitigation banking.
Many corporations and individual members of society do not realize how imperative it is that companies start investing in mitigation banks. Mitigation banks are what keep wildlife
preserved and dwelling in nature. Without the increase in mitigation awareness, more land will be destroyed, and will cause a decrease in land value. Plentiful areas of wildlife and vegetation will be destroyed because corporations are too competitive and want to keep the upper hand in expenses.

Guidance:

Another great improvement that has turned for the better was the implantation of the National Wetlands Mitigation Action Plan. Although the plan was drawn up by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Corps of Engineers in 2002, it was not incorporated into the final mitigation rule until 2008. This plan was applied in order to assist and guide companies in the creation and protection of the mitigation banks. This allowed a decrease in wetland bank loss to practically nothing. Two of many ways the EPA guides corporations, is by giving accountability, and by collecting data. The EPA keeps banks accountable by providing financial assistance through state grant programs. These programs help assist corporations into being able to afford mitigation banks, and therefore, are obliged to support the creation of mitigation banks. The EPA also guides corporations through data collecting. The EPA shares a mitigation database built upon previous databases, it provides an annual report on compensatory mitigation, and it publishes information regarding mitigation tracking.[6] Along with these two guiding terms, the plan also includes 17 more items used to improve the ecological performances.

Training:

Training is also an important improvement that mitigation banking has increased drastically in the past years. There are websites[7] out there that offer ways of training individuals to become tactful in the field of mitigation banking. Organizations such as the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Fish & Wildlife Service, among others partner together to help these training websites to educate the public in the importance of mitigation banking.

History


Mitigation banking started off in 1983 as guidance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to the state Department of Transportation were used for the compensation of DOT impacts.[8] As mitigation banks spread throughout the United States, reports started to come in regards to the steadiness of the Section 404 program.[9] This turned the heads of the EPA and Corps of Engineers very quickly, as these organizations were the two organizations in charge of such sections as the 404.

In response to the new challenges associated with the Section 404 program, the EPA, Corps, FWS, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service, and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service gathered together in 1995 and finished the Federal Guidance on the Establishment, Use, and Organization of Mitigation Banks.[10] This guidance rule book gave the framework necessary for agencies to seek approval on constructing and operating mitigation banks. Since the creation of the guidance, the use of mitigation banks has increased drastically.

In 2002, the National Wetlands Mitigation Action Plan appeared due to the growth in mitigation banking and improved the ecological performance and results from banking. And in 2004, the Society of Wetland Scientists suggested that mitigation banks can be used to produce a no net loss of wetlands.[11] However, as many guidance that is produced, there will always be a need for establishing, restoring, and preserving lands due to the increase of impacts other corporations have on the surrounding lands.

As of right now, since 2008, the EPA, Corps of Engineers, and other environment organizations continue to improve standards, liabilities, and regulations as to increase the use of mitigation banks. Placing more and more of an interest in people's minds to support mitigation banking.
over the years.png
Interest has increased over the years as guides and other opportunities have increased as well.

Types of Mitigation Banking


Wetland

  • Wetland mitigation banking is the broad establishment, restoration, and preservation of a new or old wetlands. It is very useful for construction purposes (see Construction Application below), but it is not very specific. Wetland mitigation banks are great in the fact that they incorporate a large area, and in that large area, the wetland mitigation bank creates more biodiversity by creating more suitable habitats for wildlife.

  • However, in incorporating a large area, this can be too broad and be unproductive. With the money going towards the entire wetland, it may not help a specific area as much as it should. That is where stream mitigation banking comes in.

Stream

  • Unlike wetland mitigation banks, stream mitigation banks apply to a certain stream or river. This is helpful in the fact that it specifically helps a specific river or stream, which condenses the areas in which money can be spent, and therefore lowers the cost. This not only decreases the money spent on improving an area, but it also singles out the place of interest.

  • However, one problem that occurs in stream mitigation banking is that it is too specific. Basically there is a clear difference between one stream's profits and another's, and therefore some streams end up getting neglected while others get all the restoration.

  • Another problem with stream mitigation banks is that the area around the streams are always changing. When concrete, asphalt, and buildings are constructed, water begins to flow straight into the river system. From then on, discharge peaks rise and floods occur more often.[12] These problems tend to effect a company's decision on whether to support a stream or wetland mitigation bank.

Construction Applications


Mitigation banking is extremely helpful in the minds of a construction company. Previous to mitigation banks, construction companies would face troubles with wetland regulations when the construction processes collided with wetland areas.[13] Government and environmental organizations would get upset when wetlands were destroyed because of construction, and would force the construction company to stop until there was an alternate solution. This made it difficult for construction companies to steadily move on with construction when delays were unpredictable and very expensive. However, with the introduction of mitigation banking, construction companies were able to plan ahead and mitigate banks ahead of time so their construction process would not be hindered. As construction companies are now able to create more wetlands, and restore or enhance degraded wetlands, this satisfies environmental organizations and keeps costs down low for construction companies.

Successful Projects


Placer County, California

The first mitigation bank established by Wildlands Mitigation Bank at Sheridan, which is the first enterprise west of the Mississippi that could create a wetland mitigation bank with credits.[14] Wildlands was able to sustain a mitigation bank from almost clear across the country in California from Mississippi.
mitigation wetland.jpg
Placer County, CA











Research


The next step in mitigation banking is the exploration of having the no net loss. This is where construction will not consist of delays and cost, and there will be no cost in establishing and protecting banks. Trying to get a no net loss may be chasing after a dream that will never come, or it may be something that will revolutionize the environmental building block. There is many controversial ideas that come about, e.g.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1442-8903.2007.00328.x/full
and
http://www.jstor.org/stable/2269556?seq=1

Even with the further research trying to make everything more economically perfect, there is still need for mitigation banking, as there always will be.
  1. ^ (2011). "What is Mitigation Banking?" National Mitigation Banking Association, <http://www.mitigationbanking.org/about/whatismitigationbanking.html>.
    (Nov. 30, 2014).
  2. ^ (March 20, 2014), "Mitigation Banking Factsheet." United States Environmental Protection Agency, <http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/mitbanking.cfm>. (Nov. 30 2014).
  3. ^ (March 20, 2014), "Mitigation Banking Factsheet." United States Environmental Protection Agency, <http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/mitbanking.cfm>. (Nov. 30 2014).
  4. ^ (March 20, 2014), "Mitigation Banking Factsheet." United States Environmental Protection Agency, <http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/mitbanking.cfm>. (Nov. 30 2014).
  5. ^ (March 20, 2014), "Mitigation Banking Factsheet." United States Environmental Protection Agency, <http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/mitbanking.cfm>. (Nov. 30 2014).
  6. ^ (Dec. 24, 2002), "National Wetlands Mitigation Action Plans." United States Environmental Protection Agency, <http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/upload/2003_07_10_wetlands_map1226withsign.pdf>. (Dec. 01, 2014).
  7. ^ (2014), "Conservation Leadership Network." The Conservation Fund, <http://www.conservationfund.org/our-conservation-strategy/major-programs/conservation-leadership-network/cln-resources/mitigation-resources/wetland-and-stream-mitigation-banking-resources/> (Dec. 01, 2014).
  8. ^ (March 20, 2014), "Mitigation Banking Factsheet: Background." United States Environmental Protection Agency, <http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/mitbanking.cfm>. (Dec. 01, 2014).
  9. ^ (March 06, 2014), "Clean Water Act, Section 404." United States Environmental Protection Agency, <http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/sec404.cfm>. (Dec. 01, 2014).
  10. ^ (March 20, 2014), "Mitigation Banking Factsheet: Background." United States Environmental Protection Agency, <http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/mitbanking.cfm>. (Dec. 01, 2014).
  11. ^ (March 20, 2014), "Mitigation Banking Factsheet: Background." United States Environmental Protection Agency, <http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/mitbanking.cfm>. (Dec. 01, 2014).
  12. ^ Gillespie, Nat. (2014), "Stream Mitigation Banking." Ecosystem Marketplace, <http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id=699>. (Dec. 01, 2014).
  13. ^ "Water Shedss: Mitigation Banking." North Carolina State University Water Quality Group, <http://www.water.ncsu.edu/watershedss/info/wetlands/mitbank.html>. (Dec. 01, 2014)
  14. ^ (2011), "Mitigation Banks." National Mitigation Banking Association, <http://mitigationbanking.org/mitigationbanks/index.html>. (Dec. 01, 2014).