We are passionate about our aquatic areas in Washington State. Wetlands, streams, and the critical area buffers that protect them are the cardiovascular system of a healthy watershed. Aquatic areas and their buffers support an interconnected network of clean, cool water, and the critical habitats that are essential to the life cycles of many of our State’s threatened and endangered species, as well as many other wetland dependent plants and animals. The historical loss of these areas within in our watersheds is the basis for their regulatory protections and the concept of “mitigation banking” was born out of this need across the United States to find better ways to offset further unavoidable losses to these valuable resources.
In Washington State, we have a policy goal of “no net loss” of our wetland resources. Unfortunately, we are not meeting this goal with the failures of unsustainable mitigation projects over the last 30 years, lack of management and monitoring of our mitigation areas and outdated wetland mitigation policies that support the “enhancement” of an existing aquatic area as a suitable offset for the direct loss of an aquatic area when a development occurs. This “death by a thousand cuts” condition is the reason that our mitigation bank projects are located on ecologically significant properties within a watershed where we are reestablishing or creating additional wetlands, streams and critical area buffers that are protected forever.
Habitat bank can develop large scale mitigation projects, also known as consolidated mitigation projects. As and example, Habitat Bank developed a large, consolidated wetland mitigation project in partnership with the City of Battle Ground for unavoidable wetland impacts within the City of Battle Ground and within portions of the Salmon and Mill Creek drainage basins.
Habitat Bank is uniquely skilled at pulling together and working with the many different stakeholders that regulate or provide expertise on a mitigation bank project, in order to meet our region’s restoration objectives and create valuable mitigation resources for permit applicants. Habitat Bank has partnered with conservation districts, cities, ports, tribes, farmers, private developers and state agencies to evaluate mitigation banking projects, in-lieu fee programs, advanced consolidated mitigation solutions and other mitigation options throughout the Northwest.
By leveraging our knowledge of mitigation demand, state and federal banking rules, current regional issues and permitting approach, we are uniquely able to evaluate the feasibility of a mitigation bank project from both an ecological and economic perspective. Currently we are working to integrate wetland, salmon and stream mitigation credits into existing and proposed mitigation projects, in order to more fully address complicated permitting requirements and/or impacts to multiple types of habitats or aquatic areas. As markets for additional ecosystem services develop, we will work to incorporate those elements into our offerings to maximize the return and applicability credits from current and future projects.