Mitigation: Protection, Restoration & Revenue Posted on June 10, 2014 by UPLLC

trout-stream-webUnique Places works with landowners and other clients to protect and restore streams and wetlands. In some cases, these projects can generate revenue for landowners through a process called “mitigation.”

Mitigation works like this: When an activity, such as the construction of roads, housing developments, shopping malls, etc., will impact a stream or wetland, regulations through the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the NC Division of Water Resources (NCDWR) require that an activity “avoid” and “minimize” impacts to streams and wetlands. Impacts that cannot be avoided can be permitted, provided they are offset through the process of mitigation. Mitigation involves the restoration, enhancement, or preservation of streams and wetlands in a nearby area, usually within the same watershed as the impact that is occurring. The idea is that the mitigation project offsets the impacts of the development project so there is no net impact to streams and wetlands. Mitigation is technically referred to as “compensatory mitigation” because it is intended to compensate for stream and wetland impacts.

In North Carolina there are four different types of mitigation programs:

  • streams
  • wetlands
  • stream buffers (only in certain areas)
  • nutrients (only in certain areas)

The Corps oversees the first two programs, while NCDWR oversees the latter two. However, both agencies, as well as several others such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA and NC Division of Wildlife Resources, provide input to each of the programs and associated permitting.

Mitigation projects (restoration, enhancement, and/or preservation of streams, wetlands and stream buffers) are completed in one of three ways: 1) a mitigation “bank” that sells to permittees in need of mitigation; 2) a state fee program, called the NC Ecosystem Enhancement Program; and 3) self-completed mitigation projects in which the permittee completes the project themselves, either on their property or on a different property.

Unique Places helps landowners who have property with “mitigation potential” (degraded streams and wetlands) to develop mitigation projects on the property and generate revenue. Landowners can be paid fair market value “FMV”, and sometimes even in excess of traditional real estate FMV, for conservation easements along restored stream and wetland areas on their property. Currently, the team is working with clients to develop two of the state’s largest stream mitigation banks, as well as “permittee-responsible” stream mitigation projects.

For more information on Stream and Wetland Restoration & Mitigation, questions about this article or to start a project contact Lynnette Batt.

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