Greetings Wetland Supporters:
Summer is well upon us and so is work dealing with wetlands. One such event was the National Mitigation and Ecosystem Banking Conference that was held in Raleigh, NC in July. Mitigation and ecosystem banking is very important to maintain and increase the quality and quantity of wetlands across the United States.
First, impacts to wetlands due to development must be permitted by the state and federal regulatory agencies with the goal to avoid and minimize wetland impacts. When impacts can’t be avoided, the impacted wetland areas must be replaced or mitigated in size and function preferably in the same watershed. Mitigation normally takes the form of restoration or creation.
- Creating a wetland means putting a wetland where one had not previously existed, and this is the most complex way to mitigate wetland impact.
- Restoration means taking a damaged or degraded wetland and turning it back to a high functioning, high quality. Restoration can take on many forms such as improving or restoring hydrology (such as plugging ditches on the coast), planting native wetland vegetation, and connecting wetlands to other wetlands such as a salt marsh to the ocean.
So, what is ecosystem banking? First ecosystems are more than wetlands and streams so what else may be mitigated? There are some localities in the US where there are local ordinances that require impacts to entire ecosystems must also be mitigated. There is such an ordinance in Hilton Head Island, SC.
Banking refers to the process where wetlands, streams and other ecosystems are restored, and a bank of mitigation credit are established. Restoration companies then these sell mitigation credits to the developer who want to impact a wetland, stream or other ecosystem. This process of generating credits before the impact occur is an efficient way to mitigate impacts.
You will be hearing more about wetland restoration in the future due to some of the projects we are seeking funding and, we have recently formed a partnership with the SC Mitigation Association. We will be exploring ways where we can benefit each other.
Most of the sponsor of the Carolina Wetland Association are in the business of wetland mitigation; including our newest sponsor – the South Carolina Mitigation Association. We look forward to working together on wetland education, outreach, and development opportunities.
Finally, while not mitigation-related, but our Volunteer Wetlands Monitoring Project has partnered with Wildnote to use their mobile data application to collect field data. We will be testing to the best methods for citizen scientists to perform wetland monitoring. We are both very excited to see how this works out.
So, go beat the heat and explore a cool shaded wetland.