The 2015 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference will be held in Orlando, Florida May 4-8. Founded in 1997 with a diverse steering committee of regulators, bankers and environmentalist, this is the first – and only – National hands-on conference for mitigation, conservation and ecosystem banking that focuses on banking to protect wetlands, endangered species and other natural resources.
We hope you’ll make plans to attend the Friday morning Regulatory Update moderated by Michael Sprague, President of Trout Headwaters, Inc and featuring officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. >See Detailed Agenda http://www.mitigationbankingconference.com/mitigation_agenda.htm or >Register for the conference http://www.mitigationbankingconference.com/mitigation_registration_fees.htm
Building on this year’s success, the National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference is moving into its 18th year with a refreshing focus on improved content and moderated exchanges. This year’s National Conference (in Orlando) is currently seeking cohesive panel presentations and individual presentations that offer timely and new information. Deadline for submittal is October 1, 2014.
All submissions should relate to mitigation banking, conservation, species, habitat banking or ecosystem banking and alternatives as indicated in the variety of topics below. Submissions should come from experienced regulators, mitigation and conservation bankers, customers/users of banks, investors, local, state, federal governments, environmental organizations, consultants, engineers, academia and others who have direct experience in the expanding mitigation, conservation and ecosystem banking industry.
Preference will be given to those with data, actual results, or research that support their presentation. Presentations may not be commercial and must be educational. It’s easy to submit — click SUBMIT and follow the prompts.
Trout Headwaters, Inc is pleased to announce the approval of the first mitigation bank in the history of Wyoming and sponsored by Sweetwater River Conservancy, LLC. Following on publication of the state’s first Stream Mitigation Procedure (SMP), the Dumbell Ranch Mitigation Bank has received approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, WY Department of Environmental Quality, Wyoming Department of Game and Fish and the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office.
“This first bank represents a very significant step for advance mitigation in the state and we expect will facilitate increasing restoration efforts across a potentially vast landscape,” said Trout Headwaters’ President, Michael Sprague.
The 1047 acre Stream, Riparian and Wetland Bank will provide credits for an area spanning north of Rawlins, Wyoming. The bank will provide credits to offset impacts to palustrine emergent wetlands, riverine wetlands, stream channels, and riparian areas. Prior to THI’s assessment of the property in 2012, the ranch had been used exclusively for cattle grazing and hay production. As a result of the practices, the stream banks and buffers as well as wetlands had been destroyed or significantly degraded. Approved plans include restoration of these resources using sustainable techniques and the long-term conservation of these restored resources.
Trout Headwaters, in conjunction with the National Mitigation Banking Association is pleased to release its annual “State of the Markets” Report for 2014 showing trends in Wetland Mitigation Banking over the period from 2000-2013 with updated data provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This concise report is available only to THI clients and partners interested in the latest statistics and trends for the growing industry. To request a copy by email firstname.lastname@example.org
In a recent interview with McKinsey’s Rik Kirkland, Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund points out that what gets measured, gets managed. By serving markets increasingly interested in green goods and services, the advent of big data presents opportunities for businesses to improve their bottom line and the environment, he says. >Read Full Story
Trout Headwaters, Inc. has pioneered big data systems for industry and private users enabling comprehensive analysis of various environmental data sets across a broad range of ecosystem services and markets. Leveraging the capability to relate many, many, layers of complex data will continue to provide unique insights for our firm and our customers. Get your interactive tools today! >Learn more about EcoBlu Analyst
The Raleigh News Observer http://www.newsobserver.com/ notes a recent round of layoffs in the state’s Ecosystem Enhancement Program (NCEEP) resulting from legislative changes leveled in 2011 intended to fix the failing program. Read Story via http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/03/14/3703089/denr-cuts-jobs-in-wetlands-restoration.html
While concern lingers regarding private mitigation banking efforts currently underway within the state, the expensive, spectacular failures of NCEEP point out the ineffectual concept of paying fees in lieu of actual mitigation. For those who care about the environment, importantly what failed for North Carolina was appropriate ecological offset under the Clean Water Act -offset for some impacts to streams and wetlands incurred long ago.
This is far from the first In-Lieu Fee (ILF) program failure. In mid-2013, some 35 ILFs in the U.S. were still non-compliant according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). Despite this consistent pattern of failure in achieving ‘no net loss’ of the nation’s wetlands, there are a handful of these ILF’s under development in the U.S. today.
For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, USEPA and others, the 2008 Mitigation Rule created a needed rationale for selecting from available mitigation alternatives, placing advanced compensatory mitigation at the top of its hierarchy. Part of this consideration had to do with the issue of temporal loss of resource function or quality under other types of mitigation.
Advance mitigation (by proven, successful ecological restoration projects) creates needed offsets in advance of the environmental impact being permitted. These mitigation banks create offsets (known as mitigation credits) and without taxing government with the restoration costs or risks. They create permanent, lasting conservation.
The state of North Carolina has taken critical actions to ‘turn the ship around’ and is working to bring its mitigation ledgers into much-needed balance. But NCEEP remains a cautionary tale for other states currently taking risks and incurring costs to run their own programs. Compensatory mitigation needs can very often be served by private investment in successful restoration.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District Wyoming Regulatory Office has approved the first Wyoming Stream Mitigation Procedure (WSMP) for the state.
The WSMP establishes a method for calculating compensatory mitigation debits and credits that will provide predictability and consistency. Such a procedure is necessary for allowing the development of mitigation banks in the state. The practice of using compensatory mitigation to minimize unavoidable losses of aquatic resources is an important component of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Clean Water Act Section 404 Regulatory Program.
According to the WSMP document, Wyoming’s procedure was adapted from similar methodologies used in other Corps Districts that have been in effect for several years, and is based on the Montana Stream Mitigation Procedure originally drafted a decade ago, but updated this year as well.
The idea of mitigation banking has been around for 30 years, and has steadily gained ground as a preferred method of protecting aquatic resources. In 2008, the EPA and the Corps issued revised regulations governing compensatory mitigation. The 2008 Compensatory Mitigation Rule (22 CFR Parts 325 and 332) established equivalent and effective standards for all three compensatory mitigation mechanisms: mitigation banks, in-lieu fee mitigation, and permittee-responsible mitigation. Since mitigation banking is the most reliable form of compensatory mitigation, these regulations establish a hierarchy for the use of banks when appropriate credits are available.
Mitigation bank credits may be purchased by a permittee from a mitigation bank where aquatic resources (e.g., wetlands, streams, riparian areas) are restored, established, enhanced, and/or preserved in advance of impacts.
The WSMP represents an important step forward for Wyoming’s aquatic resources.
The Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS), in a position paper on the organization’s website, formally supports wetland mitigation banking to improve mitigation success and contribute to the goal of no net loss of wetlands.
For more than a century, the U.S. has been losing wetlands at an alarming rate. When wetlands are impacted by development, usually dredged and filled, developers are required to replace the same acreage within the same geographical area. “Banking” wetlands, before those impacts occur, is emerging as a preferred alternative, something we at THI support wholeheartedly.
Banked wetlands are systems that have been restored or created for compensatory mitigation in advance of unavoidable impacts to wetlands permitted by regulatory authorities. The banked wetlands should be managed, protected in perpetuity, functionally similar to the altered systems and within defined geographical areas.
SWS states in its position paper that, “Successful wetland mitigation requires agreement among the regulatory authorities and the proponents on size, type, timeline, required and desired functions, management, funding and oversight. Good science, design, construction and maintenance must support all this.”
Our nation’s wetlands provide critical ecological services that cannot be duplicated artificially. Wetland protection and restoration should be one of our top priorities as we understand the critical importance of freshwater resources.