Matthew Skilling, Wetland Mitigation Banking In Tennessee: An Assessment Of Three Banks Performance
Faculty Chair: Dr. John Tucker
Each year, the nation as a whole loses nearly 58,000 acres of wetlands. The national goal of both the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers is to achieve no net loss of wetlands. Wetlands law allows for mitigation of wetland impacts with the implied assumption that the mitigation will adequately compensate for the wetland loss. Mitigation banks are becoming a popular mitigation option.
Mitigation banks, due to their large size and ample mitigation ratios, make a significant contribution to the national goal of no net loss. This study evaluates three mitigation banks currently operating in Tennessee. The evaluation is based on the success criteria established in the Memorandums of Agreement specific to each bank in order to determine if each bank is successfully achieving a no net loss of wetlands through the mitigation it provides.
This study found that wetland mitigation banking in Tennessee is achieving the national goal of no net loss through generous mitigation ratios and well planned restoration. Despite the current level of success, the mitigation banking process in Tennessee needs changes that would make it even more successful and efficient. Monitoring reports need to be completed and submitted in accordance with firm timetables. Additionally, regulators should establish clearly defined standards for the material content of all monitoring reports. The critical element for monitoring reports should be consistency of content and quality. These changes, along with the establishment of smaller, more regional mitigation banks would greatly improve mitigation banking in Tennessee.