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    Photo By Clayton Church | Fort Worth District Regulatory Project Manager and Mitigation Banking Coordinator...... read more read more

    Simple one word: impact. Webster defines the verb impact as:
    • : to have a strong and often bad effect on (something or someone)
    • : to hit (something) with great force
    When development adversely impacts aquatic resources and no avoidance or minimization of these resources is possible, then the world of mitigation banking comes to light. Since a memorandum of agreement signed in 1990 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, mitigation was defined as a sequential process of avoiding, minimizing, and then compensating for adverse impacts to the aquatic ecosystem. Three important words here are more closely defined:
    Avoid: Take all appropriate and practicable measures to avoid those adverse impacts to the aquatic ecosystem that are not necessary.

    Minimize: Take all appropriate and practicable measures to minimize those adverse impacts to the aquatic ecosystem that cannot reasonably be avoided.

    Compensate: Implement appropriate and practicable measures to compensate for adverse project impacts to the aquatic ecosystem that cannot reasonably be avoided or further minimized. This step is also referred to as compensatory mitigation. The purpose of compensatory mitigation is to replace those aquatic ecosystem functions that would be lost or impaired as a result of a USACE-authorized activity.
    In 2008, the USACE and EPA finalized the Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources. The Rule is intended to improve the planning, implementation, and management of compensatory mitigation including mitigation banks, by creating higher standards for compensatory mitigation.
    The person who oversees the Fort Worth District Mitigation Banking Program is Brent Jasper. According to Jasper, the Corps, with input from an Interagency Review Team evaluates proposals for new mitigation banks and proposals to modify existing mitigation banks.
    “Just like a bank that holds money, mitigation banks hold land that may be used for compensatory mitigation when impacts to the aquatic environment are not able to be avoided or minimized,” said Jasper.
    The Corps also monitors mitigation banks to ensure they are in compliance with the Mitigation Banking Instruments. The day-to-day management of the individual mitigation banks is the responsibility of the mitigation bank sponsor.
    “Currently there are 36 banks that are being managed by the District to insure compliance with all ecological performance standards specified in the instruments,” said Jennifer Walker, Chief, Evaluation Branch Regulatory Division, Fort Worth District. Banks normally range in size from a few hundred acres to 2,000 acres but one of the largest banks in the country, Pineywoods Mitigation Bank in east Texas has just over 19,000 acres, she added.
    Once land is designated as a mitigation bank it is protected in perpetuity through a conservation easement. However, there are some instances where certain activities could potentially occur at a mitigation area.

    Eminent domain and condemnation could potentially occur for utility or transportation corridors. Also, owners of subsurface mineral rights (mainly oil and gas) and surface rights (mainly sand, gravel and coal) may potentially exercise these rights within a mitigation area. If any of these are contemplated, the Corps works with the mitigation bank sponsor to minimize the effects and determine appropriate actions to take.

    When impacts to the aquatic environment are unavoidable then mitigation banks become an option for compensatory mitigation.

    Additional information concerning mitigation and mitigation banking is available at http://www.swf.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Permitting/Mitigation.aspx.



    Date Taken: 06.17.2016
    Date Posted: 06.17.2016 10:44
    Story ID: 201553
    Location: US

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