Wetland Mitigation Banks

Mitigation banks are the legal environmental surrogate entity enabling the authorized compensatory offset to adverse
impacts to wetlands and other acquatic resources occassioned by private or public development or construction.  Mitigation
banking means the restoration, creation, enhancement, and in exceptional circumstances, preservation of wetlands and/or
other acquatic resources for the sole purpose of providing compensatory mitigation in advance of authorized impacts to
similar resources.

The objective of a mitigation bank is to provide for the replacement of the chemical, physical and biological functions of
wetlands and other acquatic resources which are lost as a result of authorized impacts.  Such authorized impacts commonly
arise in connection with the development and construction of residential and commercial real estate projects, or in the
governmental sector, by the construction of roads, bridges or other facilities or infrastructure projects.  Using appropriate
methods, wetland mitigation “credits” are establised for substitution of actual wetland or acquatic resources impacted
by construction and development activities which are available to the mitigation bank sponsor or third parties to compensate
for adverse impacts to wetlands (or “debits”).

Mitigation banks are established and governed in their operation by both federal and state law, which are administered and enforced by their respective governmental environmental regulatory bodies, including at the federal level, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and  in Florida, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Mitigation banks provide greater flexibility to applicants needing to comply with mitigation requirements and can have several advantages over individual mitigation projects, including:

* advantages for maintaining the integrity of the acquatic ecosystem to consolidate compensatory mitigation into a single large
parcel or contiguous parcels whem ecologically appropriate;

* aggregation of financial resources, planning and scientific expertise not practicable to many project-specific compensatory
contexts, facilitating long-term management success and maximization of contribution to biodiversity and/or watershed function;

*reduction of permit processing times and provision of more cost-effective compensatory mitigation opportunities for
projects that qualify; and

*provision of implemented, functioning compensatory mitigation in advance of project impacts, reducing temporal losses
of acquatic functions and uncertainty over actual success of compensatory substitution of adverse resouce impacts.

Attorney Lindley has assisted in the development of a large Florida wetland mitigation bank and provides insight  into the challenges,
operation and availability of wetland mitigation credits.


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