Mitigation Bank Permitting
Heritage personnel have years of experience in mitigation bank permitting and have assisted in the establishment of over 16 mitigation banks. Permitting starts with the Wetland Delineation, whereby we evaluate the mitigation potential for our clients’ properties. The data and site information collected during this task are critical for the development of the mitigation prospectus, identifying historic stream channels, historic and current habitat conditions, and overall site conditions.
As part of the delineation, we collect available historic and site-specific hydrology information such as previous/existing agricultural and/or waterfowl management activities. We also use any existing site/boundary surveys, relevant property/land-use studies, annual crop reports, and other available documents.
Heritage then prepares a draft mitigation banking prospectus in accordance with the 33 CFR Parts 332, Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources, April 2008 (Final Rule), and other regulatory guidance. This prospectus describes the immediate and long-term management of the bank and includes, not limiting to, the following information:
• Goals and Objectives-a description of the resource types and amounts that will be provided, and the manner in which the resource functions of the mitigation project will address the needs of the watershed
• How the Mitigation Area will be Established and Operated-General information in regards to ownership, sponsorship, zoning, site restrictions, etc
• Location and Geographic Service Area-A description of the location of the site and its United States Geographical Survey (USGS) Hydrologic Unit Codes, and primary and secondary service areas.
• General Need and Technical Feasibility-A description of the need of the project as it relates to watershed goals, the public need, and general landscape features which lend to the potential success of the mitigation project
• Ecological Suitability-The physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the mitigation site, and how that site will support the planned types of aquatic resources and functions
• Baseline Conditions-A description of the ecological characteristics of the proposed compensatory mitigation project site and, in the case of an application for a Department of the Army (DA) permit, the impact site
• Mitigation Work Plan-Detailed written specifications and work descriptions for the compensatory mitigation project, including, but not limited to the geographic boundaries of the project, construction methods, timing, sequence, sources of water, methods for establishing plant communities, plans to control invasive species, the proposed grading plan, soil management, and erosion control measures.
• Ecological Performance Standards -Ecologically-based standards that will be used to determine whether the compensatory mitigation project is achieving its objectives.
• Adaptive Management Practices-A management strategy to address unforeseen changes in site conditions or other components of the compensatory mitigation project.
• Monitoring Plan¬-A description of parameters to be monitored in order to determine if the mitigation project is on track to meet performance standards and if adaptive management is needed. A schedule(i.e. yrs 1, 3, 5, 7) for monitoring and reporting on monitoring results to the DA must be included
• Maintenance Plan-A description and schedule of maintenance requirements to ensure the continued viability of the resource once initial construction is complete
• Financial Assurances (Short and Long Term)-A description of financial assurances that will be provided and how they are sufficient to ensure a high level of confidence that the compensatory mitigation project will be successfully completed in accordance to its performance standards.
• Long Term Protection-The aquatic habitats, riparian areas, buffers, and uplands that comprise the overall mitigation project must be provided long-term protection through real estate instruments or other available mechanisms such as conservation easements, held by entities such as federal, tribal, or non-profit conservation organizations.
We then coordinate with the client throughout the development of the prospectus including conducting teleconferences meetings. We officially submit the prospectus as a draft, which will allow the USACE to review and comment without an official public notice posting. As a draft prospectus, the USACE is required by law to comment within 30 days of submittal and provide suggestions for proceeding to a final prospectus.
After receiving comments from the USACE, Heritage addresses all concerns, and submits the final prospectus.
Heritage then prepares a draft Mitigation Banking Instrument (MBI) in accordance with the Final Rule, which will expand on and specify the items addressed in the prospectus. The MBI formally address the legal, financial, and long-term management arrangements of the mitigation bank. The MBI also addresses conservation servitude arrangements, monitoring requirements, proposed maintenance schedules, and adaptive management practices.
Throughout the course of the review process of the MBI, Heritage coordinates with the USACE and Interagency Review Team to ensure all information presented in the MBI is complete. Following the review period of the MBI, it is likely that the USACE/IRT will provide additional comments, or have specific questions regarding the structure of the MBI. Heritage will prepare an additional response document to address these questions/concerns, and formally submit the final MBI along with the response document as a complete package.