As we continue to expand construction across the United States, we naturally run into land that’s not exactly the most attractive for construction. Enter, wetlands. Land developers can’t build a solid foundation on the land as is and, even though it’s an essential ecosystem, it’s not exactly ocean front property. That’s when wetlands mitigation banking comes into play.
The problem for developers is that wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act, so if they want to build on wetlands, they have to find and create a new, undeveloped space elsewhere to build the same area of wetlands as they are going to develop. Think of it as picking up an existing ecosystem and moving it to a new location. That’s wetlandsbanking in a nutshell.
But when you drill a little deeper, the science behind creating a new wetland, enhancing an existing wetland or preserving a wetland is not only fascinating, but also an intricate process. To start, the developer must find land that is approved for wetlands development. Once they’ve found available land, they must determine whether the soil is suitable for wetland banking.
Only a couple of soil types are acceptable for creating a wetland ecosystem. The soil must be saturated, even inundated with moisture. The best type for creating a new wetland or enhancing an existing wetland is called hydricsoil. This is earth that was once part of a wetland. It can be transported from the site of desired development to the proposed wetland area so that no moisture-rich soil is wasted.
Another aspect that developers may wish to consider is to maintain the existing wetlands on the property and use mitigation banking to “sculpt” the land to areas that better suit the layout of the property. Money is saved because the developer does not have to hire a firm to search for new land, and there is no need to purchase additional land. In fact, the saved wetlands can even be used as positive PR for the development.