The Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 and the Rivers & Harbors Act, Section 10 regulate damage to aquatic resource functions and values that are impacted by development.
These regulations provide a foundation for agencies at the local, state, and federal levels seek mitigation for mitigation for impacts to wetland, stream, or habitats.
Mitigation banks, once approved by regulatory agencies, place a perpetual conservation easement on the land. Dedicated trust funds connected to these banks allow for the long-term management of natural resources necessary to maintain the bank. Approved mitigation banks are able to sell credits to developers, agencies, and others whose projects will impact various ecosystems.
A mitigation credit is a unit of ecological value associated with converting a naturally occurring wetland or other specific habitat to other economic uses. Mitigation credits that compensate for riparian impacts can be assigned value in relation to the linear distance.
A mitigation banker, often with investment partners, invests in an ecologically damaged or sensitive site.
This investment can include: outright purchase of the land; a management plan that includes a conservation easement and design-construct restoration plan; or developing state or agency-owned lands. The mitigation banker then works with regulatory agencies including the Mitigation Banking Review Team (MBRT), which evaluates and permits a proposed mitigation bank, and the Conservation Banking Review Team (CBRT), which approves plans for building, maintaining, and monitoring the bank.
The MBRT can include representatives from local, state, or federal agencies including: US Army Corps of Engineers, National Marine Fisheries Service, Environmental Protection Agency, US Fish and Wildlife Service, state environmental protection divisions, local water management districts, and county environmental and soil conservation groups.