Washington Adopts Wetland Mitigation Banking Rule
The Washington Department of Ecology has adopted a new rule that establishes criteria and a certification process for wetland mitigation banks across the state.
Wetland mitigation banks allow developers to provide compensation before harming a wetland at another site. Developers can purchase "credits" from the banks - subject to regulatory approval - to offset wetland losses that cannot be avoided. Wetland mitigation banks are an important strategy for engaging the private sector and power of the marketplace to sustain Washington's remaining wetlands.
Lauren Driscoll, who oversees the program, said the final rule contains provisions to ensure mitigation bank sites comply with and support local shoreline regulations as well as support local salmon recovery, surface water recovery, and watershed management plans.
"We also want to ensure that wetland banks are compatible with working farms," Driscoll said. "The rule includes considerations for locating and designing banks so that they don't adversely affect adjacent farmland."
The new rule:
- encourages wetland mitigation bank sponsors to locate and design wetland mitigation banks to provide the greatest ecological benefits.
- establishes coordination among state, local, tribal and federal agencies involved in certifying wetland mitigation banks.
- provides timely review of wetland mitigation bank proposals.
- ensures consistency with federal wetland mitigation rules.
State and federal laws prohibit the loss of wetlands due to development. The availability of wetland credits doesn't eliminate or change state and federal regulations requiring developers to avoid and minimize wetland damage.
Ecology has already certified eight wetland mitigation banks across the state and another six are in the certification process. There also are four other non-Ecology certified wetland mitigation banks operating in Washington.
To access the Ecology Mitigation that Works Web portal, go to www.ecy.wa.gov/mitigation/index.html. For a map of existing and proposed wetland mitigation banks in Washington, visit www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/wetlands/mitigation/banking/map.html.