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  Wetlands

MITIGATION BANKING - INTRODUCTION

Sometimes, there are unavoidable circumstances in which there is an adverse impact to a wetland, such as filling or draining in order to further development. Due to the valuable functions of wetlands in sediment and nutrient filtering, flood water storage, and habitat for endangered and threatened species it is important to replace these wetlands to ensure there is no loss of the benefits they provide. With passage of the Interagency Wetlands Policy Act in 1989, Illinois became only the second state in the nation to consider the functions and values of wetlands to be important enough to adopt a state goal of no net loss of wetlands or their functional values. In 1991, Federal Executive Order 11990 adopted this same standard as a national goal.

Wetland mitigation banking is one tool that can be used to help reach the goal of no net loss. Mitigation banks provide for the compensation of unavoidable adverse wetland losses, by restoring chemical, physical, and biological functions of wetlands and/or other aquatic resources prior to an adverse impact. Wetland mitigation banks are typically large blocks of wetlands whose values and functions are summed and assigned a value that is translated into "credits". These credits are deposited, just as a deposit is made into a regular checking account. As approved wetland losses occur, these credits are withdrawn to compensate for the losses. Mitigation banks can be developed by private individuals, public agencies, or a combination of these entities and the credits sold in order to compensate for adverse wetland impacts.

Mitigation banking credits can be achieved through creation, restoration, enhancement, or in some rare circumstances preservation of wetland areas of high value. As with on-site mitigation, a bank site is to be managed and preserved in perpetuity.

 

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