Mitigation activities include the modification of a project to avoid or minimize wetland impacts and compensation for wetland impacts that are unavoidable. Compensation – expressed as "credits" – can involve a variety of activities including habitat creation, restoration, enhancement, preservation or management, which may subsequently be withdrawn to offset unavoidable wetland impacts that incurred at a project development site.
Lands acquired for mitigation programs are used to encourage the establishment of private and public mitigation banks and off-site regional mitigation areas. Under the public/private contract, targeted public lands will be restored and endowed for their perpetual management by the South Florida Water Management District, and revenues will be generated for both the SFWMD and its private partners.
SFWMD Mitigation Banks: Environmental and Fiscal Benefits
Mitigation banks are restored, managed and permanently protected lands that contain wetlands. In advance of development actions, mitigation banks give developers approved alternatives to offset unavoidable wetland impacts while still contributing to the protection and restoration of South Florida's wetland ecosystems.
Florida's mitigation banking rule Chapter 62-342 Mitigation Banks encouraged each water management district to establish two mitigation banks. The use of mitigation and mitigation banking offers opportunities to supplement funding of the South Florida Water Management District's land acquisition, restoration and management programs.
The selected mitigation bank sites include the Loxahatchee Mitigation Bank in Palm Beach County and the Corkscrew Regional Mitigation Bank in Lee County. more »
The SFWMD is implementing its two mitigation banks using public/private contractual agreements. The objectives of utilizing a public/private contract are to have the private banker front end all costs, permit the project, restore the land, market and sell the credits, establish a management trust for the long-term care of each site and provide a revenue stream to the SFWMD. This revenue will cover the appraised land value for purchase price of the bank site, all staff costs and an additional amount. The SFWMD intent is to utilize all of this revenue to acquire, restore and manage additional priority lands, resulting in a net gain in wetland resources for the region.
The Loxahatchee and Corkscrew mitigation banks are prototypes for the future of the District's program. The future of this program is to assist the selected private mitigation bankers on the implementation of the two mitigation banks through the permitting, restoration and management phases, to assure these are successful District sponsored projects. Whether or not to pursue additional banks will depend on issues involving the site selection criteria and the availability of appropriate sites. This program is not only a prototype for future District sponsored banks, but we are the only water management district establishing mitigation banks. Doing so with a public/private contractual agreement provides ecosystem benefits, reduced risk and a means for the District to restore the lands without expending further public resources.
OVERVIEW: The Corkscrew Regional Mitigation Bank consists of 632 acres, situated along the southern edge of the 5230- Imperial Marsh Mitigation Project. Within two miles of the site are the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) project lands. CREW is a vast project covering nearly 55,000 acres in Lee and Collier Counties that provides important wildlife habitat to a number of rare, threatened and endangered species; The existing vegetation is primarily pasture with exotic infested hydric pine, cypress and wetland prairie. The goal is to restore historic wetland function through hydroperiod restoration, exotic removal and controlled burn. For information on Earthmark, the private banker implementing the Corkscrew Regional Mitigation Bank project under a contract with the South Florida Water Management District, please contact Lynn Zenczak at (239) 633-8775 or Lynn@MitigationMarketing.com
OVERVIEW: The Loxahatchee Mitigation Bank has the following features: It is a nearly 1300 acre parcel. Located adjacent to the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge or Water Conservation Area 1 in an area identified by the Audubon Society as a critical buffer between the Everglades and the urbanized areas. The site consists of degraded Everglades marsh, tree island, cypress strand and dominant, dense thickets of Brazilian pepper. The restoration emphasizes the enhancement of a degraded ecosystem that will continue to degrade and impact natural areas, unless actions are taken to reduce the spread of exotics. Through hydroperiod restoration, exotic removal and controlled burn, the site will directly improve habitat values of the site and region. For information on Tetra Tech FW Inc., the private banker implementing this project, please contact Kristin at (772) 781-3414 (office) (772) 285-2954 (cell) or email@example.com
This information is specific to two mitigation projects: Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW), located in Lee and Collier counties, and Pennsuco, in Miami-Dade County. Up until 2004, many applicants proposed to contribute funds to the District in lieu of performing mitigation themselves or purchasing credits from a mitigation bank. The District was authorized to accept cash contributions only for a Governing Board endorsed mitigation project that had necessary permits under Part IV, Chapter 373, F.S. (Section 373.414). The two mitigation sites no longer accept mitigation funds but continue as expenditure sites.
Mitigation funds are used to acquire and enhance lands already identified and approved as potential acquisition sites. The advantages of buying from an already published list are two-fold. First, a conceptual enhancement and management plan is already in place for the subject property. Second, management and wildlife value of the purchased property is enhanced when it is contiguous with other publicly managed lands.
OVERVIEW: The Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) is a vast project covering approximately 60,000 acres in Lee and Collier Counties. CREW contains some of the largest remaining pristine cypress wetlands in the United States, providing habitat to a number of rare, threatened and endangered species. In June of 1995, the SFWMD began accepting cash payments in CREW as a form of mitigation to offset impacts to wetlands. Mitigation funding provides land acquisition, chemical treatment of exotics, hydrologic enhancement, management through security monitoring, and prescribed burning.
The environmental benefit of land acquisition in CREW contributes to corridor building and improved wildlife habitat for threatened and endangered species. Additional benefits for the conservation and protection of water resources in CREW include improved water quality, water management and flood protection.
The restoration component provides funding for the enhancement of a degraded system using hydrologic restoration, exotic removal, and selective re-vegetation. Contracted chemical treatment of exotic species include such species as melaleuca, Brazilian pepper, cogon grass, downy rose myrtle, lygodium and creeping signal grass. Landscape changes following exotic treatments are monitored by land managers semi-annually using aerial and on-ground surveys. Based on the monitoring assessment, land managers follow-up with a timely, adaptive exotic treatment and control.
OVERVIEW: The South Florida Water Management District's (SFWMD/District) regional mitigation area known as the Pennsuco Mitigation Area (Site/Mitigation Area) is part of the Pennsuco wetlands or Cell 26, of the East Coast Buffer (ECB). The Pennsuco wetlands/Cell 26 covers an area of approximately 13,000 acres in Miami-Dade County. Pennsuco is bordered on the west and north by Krome Avenue, to the south by Tamiami Trail (US 41) and to the east by the Dade-Broward Levee.
The Pennsuco wetlands were identified in the District's Northwest Dade Freshwater Lake Belt Plan. In 1988, this area was added as a Save Our Rivers project under the name of Dade-Broward Levee. In 1996, it was incorporated into the ECB project. The ECB consists of approximately 66,400 acres of marshes, reservoirs, and recharge areas in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties. Benefits of the ECB include providing an environmental buffer to the Everglades, seepage reduction for the water conservation areas, water supply benefits through groundwater recharge and the enhancement of thousands of acres of wetlands that once comprised the Everglades. The initial East Coast Buffer analysis by the consultants CH2MHill et al (1994) titled Analysis of Water Supply Potential for Area B, The Everglades Buffer Strip, and The Hillsboro Basin: Phase #B - East Coast Buffer Implementation grouped the buffer cells into categories of wetlands, reservoirs, or recharge basins according to their potential water management use. The Mitigation Area as part of Cell 26 is proposed for management as a wetland marsh. The primary management objective is to preserve or enhance the wetland quality. Proposed modifications to the Central and Southern Flood Control Project will attempt to reduce seepage loss, currently through the Dade-Broward levee, to avoid an artificially accentuated drydown.
In 1995, the SFWMD began utilizing Pennsuco as a regional off-site mitigation area, allowing permit applicants to make mitigation contributions for the acquisition, enhancement, and long-term management of Pennsuco lands as compensation for permitted wetland impacts. The environmental benefit will provide protection, enhancement and management of the floral, faunal, and hydrologic resources of Pennsuco parcels. Pennsuco emphasizes the enhancement of a degraded ecosystem that likely will continue to degrade and further impact adjacent natural areas, unless actions are taken to reduce the spread of exotics. The site provides an opportunity to address a broad range of functions and values including habitat enhancement, groundwater recharge, water quality improvement and increased flood storage capacity. The enhancement of Pennsuco has the potential to yield regional ecological benefits and contribute to the goals of Everglades restoration.
Under Chapter 373.414 the water management districts may accept the donation of money as mitigation where the donation is specified in a duly noticed environmental creation, preservation, enhancement, or restoration project, endorsed by the governing board. As part of the adoption of the District's Save Our Rivers 2000 Plan, the Governing Board approved use of regional mitigation activities in the East Coast Buffer, DuPuis, CREW, Shingle and Reedy Creeks (see page 8 of the Plan). This form of mitigation allows the District to direct mitigation dollars where they benefit the South Florida ecosystem.