CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Wetland Mitigation Banking:
Status and Prospects
September 12, 1997
Senior Analyst in Natural Resources Policy
Environment and Natural Resources Policy Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Wetland Mitigation Banking: Status and Prospects
Wetland protection is controversial because the federal government regulates
activities on private lands and because the natural values at some of these regulated
sites are being debated. This controversy pits property owners and development
interests against environmentalists and others who seek to protect the remaining
wetlands. Mitigation banking, which allows a person to degrade a wetland at one
site if a wetland at another site is improved, has been identified as a potential answer
to this shrill and seemingly intractable debate.
Mitigation banking is relatively new, and federal mitigation banking policies
continue to evolve. It was first endorsed by the Bush Administration. The Clinton
Administration subsequently endorsed the concept in 1993, and the Corps and EPA
issued detailed direction to field staff concurrently. Five federal agencies published
final guidance in the Federal Register in November 1995 providing a framework to
support a functioning banking system. In addition, many states have initiated or are
considering banking programs.
Banking can occur only after three steps are taken in the federal process for
protecting wetlands. First, wetland development must be avoided if possible;
second, when this it is unavoidable, impacts must be minimized; and third, impacts
that can not be minimized to an acceptable level must be mitigated. Mitigation
banking is an option only when mitigation on-site is not possible. Bank sponsors
create wetland “credits” at a bank site that can be acquired by those who fall within
the purview of these two programs and are required to offset wetland losses, or
“debits,” at other sites.
Congressional interest is building because mitigation banking appears to be a
promising approach for offsetting wetland degradation and implementing an overall
policy goal of “no net loss.” While the recent growth in the number of mitigation
banks suggests expanded interest and support for this approach, several years or
more may elapse before success (or failure) at individual sites can be determined.
This time lapse is one reason why mitigation banking is controversial.
Supporters claim that mitigation banking, when compared with mitigation on-site,
provides better-organized planning, an improved regulatory climate, greater
commitment to long-term wetland protection, and more consolidation of habitat.
Opponents are concerned that banking is a loophole and endorses additional wetland
destruction, that some types of wetlands are difficult to create or restore as thriving
ecosystems, and that wetland losses are sometimes allowed before the bank is fully
functional. More generally, supporters view policy flexibility as critical to success,
especially for commercial banks, while critics worry that flexibility will lead to
unacceptable losses of wetland functions and values. Congress is hearing about
these benefits and concerns as it considers how mitigation banking might be
incorporated into future wetland protection laws and programs.
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Mitigation Banking Defined . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Federal Mitigation: Evolution of Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Mitigation Banking Today . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Federal Agency Wetland Responsibilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Corps of Engineers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Environmental Protection Agency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Fish and Wildlife Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
State Involvement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Federal Mitigation Banking Guidance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Project Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Geographical Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Crediting and Debiting Procedure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Compensation Ratios . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Bank Sponsor Responsibilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Support for Mitigation Banking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Consolidation of Small Wetland Losses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Planning and Implementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Monitoring and Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Improved Regulatory Climate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Criticisms of Mitigation Banking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Encourages Wetland Destruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Uncertainty of Replacing Natural Ecosystems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Dissimilar Replacement of Wetland Habitat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Nature of Crediting and Debiting Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Bank Operations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Congressional Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Wetland Mitigation Banking:
Status and Prospects1
Mitigation has received widespread attention because it has been incorporated
into federal wetland protection policy as an approach for offsetting the negative
impacts of wetland losses. The President’s Council on Environmental Quality
defines mitigation as actions taken to avoid, minimize, reduce, rectify, or compensate
for the adverse repercussions of development.2 Federal agencies may require
mitigation so that an applicant will receive a permit only after agreeing to substitute
replacement wetlands to offset an unavoidable loss of a wetland and its functions.
Recognized wetland functions include:
groundwater recharge and discharge;
pollution control, including nutrient and waste retention;
flood water storage and conveyance;
barriers to erosion;
sediment trapping and control;
fish and wildlife habitats; and
recreation and aesthetic values.
Banking is one method of implementing mitigation policies that has received
considerable attention and interest recently. It can be used to compensate for the loss
of valuable functions of wetlands that contribute to a healthy environment. A
mitigation bank is usually a relatively large site where wetland habitat is created or
restored. This habitat will replace altered or degraded wetlands from several nearby
sites. Banking can consolidate activities to offset wetland losses that may otherwise
have been mitigated piecemeal at smaller sites, that are not coordinated, and may
provide less overall benefit. The interest in mitigation banking is high, as measured
by the numerous recent publications (a sampling of which are cited in the
bibliography) and by congressional interest.
This report describes the concept of banking, its principal elements and various
forms. It examines the potential of mitigation banking as a means to protect
wetlands, given their wide variation in forms, functions, and value to society.
Additionally, it outlines current criteria for a federally approved mitigation bank,
Jennifer Delong, an undergraduate student from Cornell University, researched and
prepared a draft of this report under the supervision of Jeffrey Zinn, Senior Analyst in
Natural Resources Policy.
40 CFR 1508.20
summarizes the reported advantages and disadvantages of banking, and reviews
policy issues of interest to Congress.
Mitigation Banking Defined
Mitigation banking has many definitions, but most center on the restoration,
creation, enhancement, or, in exceptional circumstances, the preservation of wetlands
which will compensate for unavoidable wetland losses at another site.3 Banking is
designed to coordinate mitigation at one location for habitat losses allowed under
federal programs at other sites. Mitigation banking is used primarily when on-site
mitigation can not be achieved or is not as environmentally beneficial. Mitigation
banking involves a process in which a client may be required to obtain wetland units
with similar functions and values at a nearby site to satisfy federal permit or program
Bank operations vary widely, but all follow the same general principles. These
principles use the terminology of financial institutions: transactions are described in
terms of credits and debits to wetland resources. A bank sponsor creates credits as
it restores, enhances, or creates wetlands at the bank site. These credits are either
debited (money is not involved) or purchased by clients (a financial transaction) who
are being required to compensate for wetland losses. When clients obtain these
credits, they are withdrawn from the bank and become unavailable for future
transactions. Clients are usually required to make these withdrawals prior to or
concurrently with their proposed activity that will result in wetland losses. Banks
may be allowed to transfer some credits, usually to fund their operations, before the
site is fully established.
A hypothetical example of a bank may help to explain this process. Consider
that a banking entity has been established. The bank sponsor purchases 500 acres
of land on which it plans to restore a wetland. The land costs $1,000 per acre. The
sponsor then spends $2,000 per acre to restore and maintain the wetland, for a total
investment of $1.5 million.
At a later time, and as part of a section 404 permit approval at a nearby site, a
client whose project will alter 10 acres of wetlands (that are almost identical to the
ones at the bank site) is required, for permit approval, to purchase mitigation
“credits” to offset these impacts. The bank sponsor sets a price of $8,000 per credit,
and each credit is one acre. The client is required to purchase 10 credits. This
payment will partially compensate the banker for restoring wetlands at the bank site.
After several clients have purchased credits, the costs of setting up the bank may be
repaid. The bank sponsor may become the long-term manager of the site after credits
are sold and the bank site is a fully functioning wetland, or it may sell the property
This definition is basically the one used by federal agencies. Some states use
different definitions; for example, while the federal definition allows preservation as an
option for banking, some states do not.
to another owner, such as a conservation group, who assumes long-term
responsibility for maintaining the site.4
The example described above is a private commercial bank, one of four types
of banks that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) identified in a recent multivolume review of many aspects of banking. It distinguishes these types based on the
relationship between the sponsor and client(s) and on the financial goals of the
! Single use banks have a sponsor who is also the principal client. A common
example is banks established by state departments of transportation or
highways to be used to compensate for losses associated with road
! Joint project banks are cooperative ventures by two or more sponsors, at
least one of which is a public entity. Sponsors anticipate that pooling
resources will reduce development and operating costs. Joint project banks,
like single use banks, generally serve a limited and defined clientele.
! Public commercial banks, often sponsored by public entities, are used to
compensate for wetland losses in a defined service area where multiple needs
are anticipated. These banks are typically in or near urban areas, and often
are established to support implementation of a regional or area plan of
! Private commercial (entrepreneurial) banks are sponsored by private
entities who acquire the bank site and price credits so as to realize the desired
return on their investment.
Federal Mitigation: Evolution of Policy
Two federal programs might require wetland mitigation. Section 404 of the
Clean Water Act (CWA), enacted in 1972, requires federal approval for most
activities involving the disposal of dredge or fill material into wetlands. Landowners
must obtain permits from the Corps before they can carry out such activities. The
Corps can impose certain conditions, including mitigation, as part of the permit
approval. Permit approval is a shared responsibility of the Corps and the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Other agencies may have important
advisory roles, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National
Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
The swampbuster program, enacted in the 1985 Food Security Act, may also
require mitigation for activities affecting agricultural wetlands. Under this program,
farmers may be denied most federal farm program benefits for altering a wetland to
The long-term responsibility of a bank is similar to the “perpetual care” obligation
of a cemetery.
Some ventures operate on a fee-based system, so that clients pay a fee, perhaps into
a trust, that subsequently funds improvements at a “bank-like” site. Private entities who
have expressed an interest in becoming bank sponsors see the ability to receive funds before
the bank site is fully established as critical to their involvement.
plant crops. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) monitors
agricultural wetlands for compliance with swampbuster. In some instances, NRCS
may allow mitigation as part of a farmer’s effort to comply with swampbuster.
Swampbuster and § 404 do not affect identical sites on agricultural lands, so in some
instances, an applicant who is not affected under § 404 may fall under swampbuster
and vice versa.
Federal mitigation policy for wetlands has grown out of regulations that the
Corps uses to evaluate the environmental impacts of proposed discharges, called the
§ 404 (b)(1) guidelines. These regulations, first promulgated in 1975, provided a
structure for mitigation. From the beginning, off-site mitigation was permitted to
avoid on-site impacts of development, such as siltation. In general, however, off-site
mitigation was limited because public agencies sometimes objected and business
interests apparently viewed the risks of upfront costs and uncertainty as too high for
the projected return.
Mitigation policies were clarified by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA),
signed on February 6, 1990, between EPA and the Corps. This MOA specifies that
these two agencies are primarily responsible for assuring that actions affecting
wetlands comply with federal regulations. The MOA mandates that compensatory
mitigation should be used only when; (1) impacts cannot be avoided, and (2)
unavoidable impacts cannot be minimized.
Controversies do arise over defining the least environmentally damaging
alternative for a particular project. Some wetland protection advocates contend that
avoidance is the only acceptable policy because wetland degradation should not be
allowed. (Avoidance means an applicant has selected an option that causes no
unacceptable environmental damage to wetland resources. Mitigation is not
necessary if the applicant is determined to have successfully avoided affecting
wetlands.) Others claim that avoidance may be the best policy for protecting
wetlands with high habitat and hydrological values, but that greater flexibility,
including mitigation, is appropriate, especially for sites of less value.6
Impact minimization is required when altering wetlands cannot be avoided.
Projects are generally required to be modified to minimize impacts of wetland
degradation. Minimization might include redesigning or scaling back aspects of a
proposal, or limiting proposed modifications to a portion of the project site. Wetland
protection advocates generally support on-site minimization of wetland damages
over mitigation because it preserves some important wetland characteristics that
might otherwise be lost. Minimization requirements may be opposed by those
applicants who would prefer to use more of the site and to implement a mitigation
If unacceptable impacts would still result, mitigation may be required.
Mitigation on the site is generally preferred over mitigation at another location. It
may include the restoration of existing wetlands or creation of new wetlands. If onsite mitigation is not possible, then off-site mitigation is the final option. Banking
It is important to remember that, even without development and with protection, a
wetland could be substantially degraded by activities on surrounding sites.
can provide an acceptable off-site mitigation option if it is properly designed.
However, the 1990 MOA does not provide detailed guidelines on banking. It does
state that each bank has to be approved by the EPA and the Corps, and that more
detailed guidance would be forthcoming. Mitigation banking does not become an
option until the Corps and the EPA have determined that the applicant has fully
complied with the policies of avoidance and minimization.
Evaluations concluding that on-site mitigation has performed poorly have
helped garner support for banking. Several reviews of early mitigation efforts found
extensive failure. For example, Kevin Erwin conducted a study for the South Florida
Water Management District in which only 40% of permitted projects requiring
wetland mitigation had been completed.7 Only four of the completed projects were
deemed successful. Among the deficiencies cited were poor site selection, improper
or insufficient monitoring and evaluation, lack of wetland persistence, poor
hydrological design, sparse vegetative cover, inadequate management, and
insufficient wildlife utilization. Other deficiencies identified by different evaluators
include delays in construction and lack of maintenance. Many view mitigation
banking as having the potential to overcome these problems.
A poor record should not be a surprise as, with few exceptions, applicants seek
least-cost solutions that meet minimum acceptable standards and avoid legal actions
or further costs. They have no incentive to exceed these standards, even when added
commitments are necessary for an ecological success. The relatively high cost of
conducting mitigation on some sites has also dampened applicant enthusiasm.
Average mitigation costs per acre tend to increase as the size of the site decreases.
In this environment, applicants have little incentive to create and maintain high
Mitigation Banking Today
The Clinton Administration endorsed mitigation banking in its wide-ranging
Wetland Plan, issued on August 24, 1993. As part of this effort, the Corps and EPA
issued a regulatory guidance letter endorsing mitigation banking as a part of the §
404 program. The Administration promulgated detailed guidance, issuing draft
regulations in the Federal Register on March 6, 1995 and final regulations on
November 28, 1995 (effective on December 28, 1995). The guidance is signed by
the five principal agencies involved in federal wetland programs—in addition to the
Corps and EPA, the other agencies are the FWS, NMFS, and NRCS. These
agencies are all members of a Interagency Wetlands Work Group. The regulations
detail the process by which banks could be set up, used, and monitored to comply
with requirements of the § 404 and swampbuster programs, emphasizing the roles
that the federal agencies will play. This guidance includes a list of related statutes,
regulations, and policies. The final guidance discusses several policy issues,
Erwin, K. An Evaluation of Wetland Mitigation Within the South Florida Water
Management District, Volume 1. South Florida Water Management District, July 1991, p.
! planning considerations, including goal setting, site selection, technical
feasibility, role of preservation, inclusion of upland areas, and banking in a
! the process for establishing banks, including contents of the prospectus and
the banking instrument, the roles of agencies, bank sponsors, public input, and
dispute resolution procedures;
! criteria for using mitigation banking, including project applicability,
relationships between banking and mitigation (including deciding between
on-site mitigation or banking), using the same or different wetlands and the
extent of the bank service area, timing of withdrawals, and credit and debit
! long-term management and monitoring, including the operational life of the
bank, the role of remedial actions, and commitments to long-term
management, monitoring, and financing.
Mitigation banking is intended to help resolve contentious situations where
growth and development pressures conflict with wetland protection efforts. This
view is gaining support, as measured by the growing number of operating banks and
the larger number that are being discussed or proposed. Most of the early operating
banks are used by departments of transportation or highways to mitigate wetland
impacts from highway construction, and are primarily managed by states. Privately
owned for-profit banks are less numerous, and all have opened recently; the Corps
approved the first commercial bank in December 1992. The federal Interagency
Wetlands Work Group is now working to bring greater continuity to the many and
disparate efforts by developing a model banking instrument which can be used by
each bank to document its objectives and operation. Continuity may become more
important as banking policies and operations continue to evolve in various forms in
The 1990 Water Resources Development Act (P.L. 101-640) authorized
wetlands demonstration studies, and the Office of Management and Budget used that
authority to direct the Corps to make a detailed study of mitigation banking. The
Corps’ Institute for Water Resources has produced 9 volumes; the initial 6 were
released in early 1994. A final report is anticipated soon. This study has inventoried
banking experiences and studies of banks, and discussed almost all aspects of
The study determined that about 10% of all the land on which mitigation banks
were located was federally owned.8 The remainder were on other public or privately
owned lands. Sponsors of banks on federal lands did not have to be federal entities.
The three examples of federally owned mitigation banks, taken from the study and
introduced in the following paragraphs provide a sense of the diversity of possible
Brumbaugh, R., and Reppert, R. National Wetland Mitigation Banking Study: First
Phase Report. IWR Report 94-WMB-4. Alexandria, VA, February, 1994..
Environmental Law Institute and IWR. National Wetland Mitigation Banking Study:
Resource Document. IWR Report 94-WMB-2. January 1994, Alexandria, Virginia.
! The Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT) Wetland Mitigation
Bank Program is sponsored by the Montana Interagency Wetlands Group.
The FWS manages the implementation of this program. A majority of lands
used for the bank are in public ownership. MDOT funds this bank, which has
been in operation since 1989 and has accounted for a deficit of 68 acres lost
to impacts of highway projects.
! The Pier J Anaheim Bay Mitigation Bank is operated by the Port of Long
Beach (CA.). It is located in the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge, within
the perimeter of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. The bank is used to
mitigate wetland degradation due to port development. It has been in
operation since 1990, and all but 14 of the 153.12 credits created have been
used. The bank was constructed by the Port of Long Beach and initially
managed by the Port and the Navy. But after this contract expired in 1991,
the FWS and the Navy assumed the maintenance responsibilities.
! The Naval Amphibious Base Eelgrass Mitigation Bank in San Diego, Ca,
started in 1986, was the first bank to be federally owned and operated. It has
been used to mitigate for damage to eelgrass habitat from the operations of the
Naval Amphibious Base in San Diego Bay. Of the 10 acres at this site, 4.2
acres compensated for one mitigation project and 5.8 acres were established
for future Navy projects. The Navy is responsible for the operation of the
bank, but the NMFS managed the restoration of the wetland and was
reimbursed by the Navy.
Since these banks were established, some new approaches have emerged, and
many new banks have been started. More recent examples were described by
banking proponents at a March 14, 1996 hearing convened by the Senate Committee
on Environment and Public Works to learn more about the status and potential of
banking. For example, Charles Ruma, representing the National Association of
Home Builders, described the establishment of a foundation by the association
chapter in Ohio that developed two banks. The first, established in 1993 at a 34-acre
site, has sold all its credits at $7,500 per acre, while the second, a 292-acre site to be
dedicated in May 1996, had already sold over 100 acres at $12,000 per acre. Mr.
Ruma noted that the Ohio Department of Transportation has been the largest
customer, and also seemed pleased to be able to report that one applicant, using the
bank, had been able to obtain a § 404 permit from the Corps in just 21 days.10
This hearing and other discussions of banking show that participation in
banking by both sponsors and clients is expanding rapidly, especially for commercial
banks. For example. the Corps survey of commercial banks conducted during the
summer of 1995 identified 77 banks, but only 24 were in operation and the remainder
were either proposed or in planning. In Florida, where this activity is concentrated,
the survey identified 12 operating or planning banks. But only several months later,
the State of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection listed 32 commercial
Testimony submitted by Charles Ruma, on behalf of the National Association of
Home Builders, to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, March 14,
banks; 7 with permits to operate, 16 with permits pending and 9 in a pre-application
Four market sectors, in addition to commercial developers, that seem to provide
the most attractive or most numerous opportunities for sponsors include airport
authorities, state departments of transportation, oil and gas transmission line
companies, and electric utilities. One witness at the March 1996 hearing estimated
that about a half dozen entities were sponsoring mitigation banks as entrepreneurial
opportunities in late 1995.12 A Corps representative, conducting an informal survey
of banks in 1997, found that about 20 of the 108 operating banks he identified had
been approved under the federal guidelines.13
Federal Agency Wetland Responsibilities
Five federal agencies primarily responsible for banking policy cooperate under
the MOA and collaborated in developing the federal guidance that was issued in
1995. The overall wetland activities of these agencies, as well as the current status
of efforts by states are summarized below, followed by a discussion of the criteria
the federal agencies are to consider.
Corps of Engineers. The Corps is the federal agency with the lead roll in
implementing the principal federal program that provides regulatory protection for
wetlands, § 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA; P.L. 92-500, as amended). Its intent
is to protect waters of the United States, including adjacent wetland areas, from
environmental damages due to discharges of dredged or fill material. Established in
1972, § 404 requires landowners or developers to obtain permits from the Corps to
carry out activities involving disposal of dredge or fill materials into these waters.
The Corps has long had regulatory jurisdiction over dredging and filling,
starting with the Harbors and Rivers Act of 1899 (ch. 425, 30 Stat. 1151, as
amended). The Corps and EPA share some responsibilities for the section 404
program, although the Corps administers the day-to-day program, including permit
decisions. Other federal agencies, including FWS, NMFS, and NRCS, also have
roles in this process. In the 1970s, legal decisions in several cases led the Corps to
revise this program and to incorporate broad jurisdictional definitions for both
regulated waters and adjacent wetlands.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Commercial Wetland Mitigation Credit Ventures:
1995 National Survey. IWR Report 96-WMB-9. August 1996, Alexandria, VA. P. 5-7.
Testimony submitted by Robert Sokolove, President of U.S. Wetland Services Inc.,
to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, March 14, 1996.
Personal communication with Robert Brumbaugh, Corps Institute for Water
Resources, September 1997. Counts of bank numbers require careful review to determine
whether each site is considered as a bank or whether all units operated by one entity are
combined and considered as a single bank. For example, in this count, he considered a
Minnesota Department of Transportation activity as a single bank even though it involves
more than 60 sites. Others might count each site as a bank.
In reviewing permit applications, the Corps evaluates a broad range of factors,
including cumulative impacts of the proposal and its intended use on the public
interest. This process is intended to consider various competing and conflicting
views and values. The decision whether to authorize a permit, and the conditions
under which the proposed activity will be allowed, are determined by a general
balancing process that reflects concern for both protection and utilization of
important resources. As part of this process, the Corps considers the extent to which
mitigation shall be required when damage to wetlands cannot be avoided or
minimized. Further, the Corps approves and monitors mitigation projects, including
any banking activity.
Environmental Protection Agency. EPA has significant responsibilities under
the § 404 program. First, the substantive water protection criteria that permit
applicants must meet are established in guidelines developed by EPA in conjunction
with the Corps. Second, EPA has the authority to veto the Corps’ permit decisions
under § 404(c), if it determines that the discharge of fill material would have an
unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery
areas, wildlife, or recreational uses. EPA’s veto authority has been highly
controversial: although rarely used (about a dozen times in 20 years), some believe
that it has served as a deterrent many other times. Authority to enforce § 404 is
shared by EPA and the Corps.
Fish and Wildlife Service.The FWS, in the Department of the Interior,
cooperates with the Corps and the EPA in permit reviews for the § 404 program.
Under the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (ch. 55, 48 Stat. 401), the Corps is
required to consult the FWS before issuing permits. The FWS provides
recommendations on how wetland losses can be avoided, minimized, or mitigated.
However, unlike the EPA, the FWS has no authority to override a Corps decision.
The FWS published a formal mitigation policy more than a decade ago which ranks
habitat by its scarcity value, and establishes mitigation planning goals.14
National Marine Fisheries Service. The NMFS, a part of the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Department of Commerce, is
actively involved in providing guidance on mitigating wetlands losses in coastal
areas. This agency contributed to the development of the Federal Register
guidelines. Its role is similar to that of the FWS.
Natural Resources Conservation Service. NRCS, in the Department of
Agriculture, administers the swampbuster program, enacted in the 1985 Food
Security Act (P.L. 99-198). Swampbuster specifies that farmers who drain wetlands
to plant crops could lose access to numerous federal farm program benefits until they
restore those wetlands. Swampbuster is not a regulatory or permit program, as each
farmer decides whether he will risk losing these benefits by altering a wetland.
NRCS assists farmers in identifying and delineating wetlands, and determines if they
are violating swampbuster. (NRCS is also responsible, based on a MOA with the
Corps, for delineating wetlands in agricultural areas for the § 404 program. Also, §
404 includes a provision that explicitly excludes “normal farming activities” from
U.S. Dept. Of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mitigation Policy: Notice of Final Policy.” Federal Register 456(15):7644-7663.
permit requirements, while swampbuster excludes certain kinds of wetlands, such as
those created as a byproduct of leaking pipes around irrigation apparatus.)
Swampbuster allows mitigation in some instances, and the federal guidance
states that mitigation banks may be used to satisfy requirements of swampbuster.15
To date, no banks have been set up specifically to support the swampbuster
program. Amendments in the 1996 farm law (P.L. 104-127) authorized a pilot
mitigation banking effort, increasing the likelihood that banks will emerge in
agricultural areas in the future. This pilot program is being administered through a
large agricultural land retirement program, the Conservation Reserve Program
The concept of mitigation banking was applied at few sites and in relative
obscurity for about two decades, until interest suddenly blossomed in the 1990s.
Some states operate programs, but most are currently translating the concept from
an abstract idea into a functioning program. Some states prohibit banks under
current laws. Other states limit mitigation banking to use by state departments of
transportation or highways for impacts to wetlands caused by highway construction.
A few states have been more aggressive in developing mitigation banks, and some
were pursuing banking initiatives before the federal guidance was issued, including
California, Illinois, Wyoming, and Minnesota. Two innovative states, New Jersey
and South Carolina, have created wetland councils to oversee the development of
banks and have numerous projects underway. Many other states which are
attempting to develop banks are working to resolve the same kinds of questions
about the guidelines and operation for mitigation banks that the federal government
had to resolve for its guidelines.
Federal Mitigation Banking Guidance
Federal mitigation banking guidance requires programs to be consistent with
agency policies before bank development and maintenance plans are approved.
Under the 1995 guidelines, banking may be acceptable if specific criteria,
summarized below, are followed. This guidance is intended to be administered with
flexibility to accommodate variations in banking. This flexibility may become more
important if planning on a watershed basis continues to be emphasized. The
watershed approach places wetlands in a larger geographic context, and should
contribute to more effective decisions about the location and use of banking sites.
At each federally-approved bank site, activities of all agencies are coordinated
through an interagency mitigation bank review team. The team oversees planning
Currently, mitigation banking is allowed only in the conversion of frequentlycropped wetlands, with restoration allowed on prior converted wetlands. For more
information on Swampbuster, see CRS Report 96-35 ENR, Agricultural Wetlands: Current
Programs and Legislative Proposals.
For background information on the CRP, see CRS Report 97-673, Conservation
Reserve Program: Status and Current Issues.
and operations. The Corps representative chairs all teams, except the NRCS
representative chairs banks that are limited to wetland losses on agricultural lands
in conjunction with the swampbuster program. The primary purpose of these teams
is to facilitate the timely development of an acceptable banking instrument, but they
are involved in other ways as well.
Project Considerations. The central goal of any bank is to manage a selfsustaining, functioning wetland ecosystem. The criteria encourage restoration
projects to replace the wetland values that would be lost over creation projects.
Experience has shown that restoration sites are much more likely to succeed than
sites where wetlands are created. The credits at a bank should be at least equal in
acreage, functions, and values to similar wetlands that will be degraded through
anticipated projects. Each bank is to have a specified number of credits that it can
provide for compensatory mitigation. Each proposed activity which must
compensate for adverse impacts to wetlands can be authorized to use a mitigation
bank as a condition of a permit, as long as credits are not resold or used to
compensate for multiple activities. However, the same credit can be used for an
activity which requires approval by more than one agency.
Geographical Considerations. The guidelines stress that the designation of
the banking service area should be based upon the “consideration of hydrologic,
edaphic and biotic criteria,” with a strong preference for replacing the losses at the
impact site with similar wetland functions, similar positioning in the broader
landscape, and similar species populations. For example, purchasing credits at a
freshwater wetland bank may not be appropriate compensation for the degradation
of a brackish or saline wetland. Debiting from mitigation banks which have different
functions than affected wetlands may be limited to banks that are developed to
accomplish a specific resource objective. All permit reviews are handled on a caseby-case basis.
The selection of a bank site should be based on how it will function in the
context of the watershed, and not on what land happens to be available, as often has
been the case with mitigation. Banking may have its greatest potential for success
when it is part of a watershed-based wetland plan. However, such planning is
especially difficult for banks that serve linear projects passing through multiple
landscapes or watersheds, such as new highway or pipeline corridor locations. The
guidelines emphasize that banking should be used only after the three-step process
of avoidance, minimization, and on-site mitigation has been followed, which is likely
to fit with watershed planning goals.
Crediting and Debiting Procedure. Credits and debits designate the units of
trade. Credits represent the composite of wetland functions at a bank site, while
debits represent either the loss of wetlands and their functions at a project site, or the
wetlands values that are withdrawn from a bank when a transaction is approved. The
number of wetland credits available from the mitigation bank should be determined
using an appropriate functional assessment methodology acceptable to all parties
with official responsibilities, including members of the mitigation bank review team.
A single method should be used to quantify the value of both credits and debits.
Credit and debit documentation is to be submitted to the chair of the mitigation bank
review team each time a transaction is approved. The guidance allows the use of an
acreage measure if a functional assessment methodology is impractical.
Compensation Ratios. Some banks do not always issue credits at a ratio of
1:1; that is, each acre of wetland lost is not treated as identical to an acre gained at
the bank site. The ratio may be different because:
! the value of the wetland debits varies;
! the value of the credit depends on the pre-bank wetland functions;
! the bank recognizes different levels of risk of success in various banking
! the transaction involves different types of wetlands; or
! some functions are valued more highly than others.
The replacing of a naturally-occurring wetland with one that is restored or created
may also lead to a variable ratio. The ratio may change over time, as well; it may
decrease as the wetlands at the bank site become established and the risk of failure
A bank in Eugene, Oregon, for example, uses variable compensation ratios. It
gives restored wetlands a full credit, but only 0.66 for created wetlands and only 0.44
for enhanced wetlands.17 Therefore, at a restored mitigation bank site of 3 acres, for
example, a credit would be 3.0, but if the bank site was an enhanced wetland, the
credit would only be worth 1.32. Using the same example and viewed from the
applicant’s perspective, 3 acres of degraded wetlands would require purchasing
credits worth 3 acres of restored wetlands, but 7.5 acres of enhanced wetlands. In
this example, the “quality” of the 3 acres to be affected or lost is not considered. It
is not clear from published sources whether variable credits are widely used, but they
appear to be more widely used now than in earlier years, and may reflect an
increasing sophistication and creativity in banking.
Bank Sponsor Responsibilities. The bank sponsor is responsible for assuring
the success of all operations at the bank site. The bank sponsor carefully manages
the accounting procedures, financial considerations, and long-term maintenance of
wetland functions and values for the banking entity. The bank sponsor should
submit all appropriate documentation to the team. Prior to any debiting from a bank,
the sponsor must satisfy three requirements:
! the banking instrument and final mitigation plans must be approved;
! the bank site must be secured; and
! appropriate financial assurances must be confirmed.
In addition, initial physical and biological improvements to the bank site should be
completed within the first growing season following the first debiting by the bank.
Federal and state agencies will oversee the maintenance of the bank site. One source
of information about the condition of the site is the monitoring reports prepared by
the bank sponsor. The bank sponsor can be held responsible to finance additional
Testimony submitted by Steve Gordon on behalf of the Council of Lane County
Governments to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, March 14, 1996.
resource improvements if the team determines that the bank is not achieving the
objectives outlined in the authorization documents.
Banking instruments, the agreements between the bank operator and regulatory
agencies, have taken many forms, ranging from memoranda of agreement to permits
to corporate charters. Topics commonly addressed in banking instruments include
the permitting and approval process, bank management and operation, credit
production and evaluation, client relationships, and, if appropriate, long-term bank
ownership. These agreements vary in several ways, including the amount of detail,
the duration of the agreement, the methods prescribed to resolve disputes, and
enforcement mechanisms. If the model banking instrument that the Interagency
Wetlands Work Group is developing is widely adopted, it will gradually bring
greater uniformity to future agreements.
Support for Mitigation Banking
Many advocates of banking view it as a promising alternative to current
mitigation programs, which some characterize as ineffective. They argue that
banking can make important contributions to achieving the overall national policy
goal of “no net loss.” The benefits ascribed to banking below are generally
supported by the experiences recounted at congressional hearings.
Consolidation of Small Wetland Losses
Mitigation banks encourage the restoration and creation of larger wetland areas
than on-site mitigation. Banks generally have higher success rates and lower cost
ratio per mitigated acre.18 Wetlands within banks may also be more enduring
because the sponsor has the opportunity and a strong commitment to implementing
a long-term program for preservation and maintenance of wetland values.
Additionally, combining many wetland acres in a single site may allow the
mitigation effort to focus on a habitat with especially desirable characteristics.
By contrast, individual on-site mitigation projects are typically smaller and
fragmented. Often such sites are less hospitable to the creation or restoration of
wetlands, and may have a lower probability for establishing a sustainable habitat.
Numerous scattered sites have proven inefficient and difficult for public agencies
(with limited staff) to monitor, and for applicants (who have little commitment to
protecting long-term wetland values beyond what is required by regulatory agencies)
to maintain.19 In addition, a large majority of permit applicants do not have
professional staff knowledgeable about wetlands ecology and are often interested in
minimizing the financial and other resources that must be devoted to their mitigation
Kusler, J. “The Mitigation Banking Debate”. National Wetlands Newsletter. v.14,
n.1, (January/February 1992), p.4.
Reppert, R. Wetland Mitigation Banking Concepts. Alexandria, VA; July 1992. p.12.
Proponents contend that having the banker select a site for mitigation banks is
an additional advantage. A banker has a strong incentive to choose a location at
which a project could flourish. Often, conventional mitigation ends up being placed
on lands which the applicant owns or can easily purchase at the time that the permit
process is being completed. These sites may be far less than ideal for establishing
and maintaining wetland functions and values. The process of locating and
establishing a bank helps insure that it will be located at a hydrologically and
ecologically favorable place.
Planning and Implementation
Mitigation banks may have a better design for long-term maintenance and
operation than on-site mitigation projects. Bank sponsors make a substantial
financial commitment to the success of each project, and are much more likely to
retain experts, including biologists, engineers, and ecologists, to design and monitor
the site.20 Scattered mitigation projects are more likely to fail, especially if
applicants have little wetland experience, because they seek to minimize additional
costs. Supporters of mitigation banking claim that the extra scientific and technical
effort that goes into establishing a bank will continue with a stronger commitment
to successful implementation, including proper siting, design and construction, and
long-term maintenance of the site.
The timing with which credits are made available has been subject to some
debate. Entrepreneurial bankers want the flexibility to sell at least some credits as
they develop the site to raise implementation funds. Skeptics of mitigation banking
want some credits to be withheld from the market until the performance of the
wetland can be certified. Also, if credits are sold only after the bank is operating and
the wetland functions are in place, then the purchase of credits will bypass temporary
losses associated with on-site mitigation. These temporary losses can be significant
if they occur during the breeding or nesting season, or if a flood occurs, for example.
The federal guidance supports sale of some credits before the bank is fully
functional at sites where it can determine that there is a high likelihood of success.
Some sites, such as a bank in Eugene Oregon, sold “uncertified” credits at a lower
prices. In this case, they sold them only during the first 6 years of the project and the
quantity that could be sold was limited.21 For commercial banks, the longer the time
before credit sales are allowed, the greater the economic exposure for the bank
Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring wetland values at mitigation sites is more practically accomplished
at a larger mitigation bank. The process is more efficient because a single entity
Riddle, E. “Mitigation Banks: Unmitigated Disaster or Sound Investment?” , Lo
Proceedings: National Wetland Symposium - Mitigation of Impacts and Issues, New
Orleans, LA. Oct. 8-10, 1986, pp. 353-358.
Testimony submitted by Steve Gordon on behalf of the Council of Lane County
Governments to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, March 14, 1996.
would operate a bank. For a federally-approved bank, the banking agreement defines
responsibilities for maintaining wetland values. Follow-up evaluation activities by
mitigation banking review team members would identify adjustments that are
necessary to protect the site values that are identified in a bank management plan.
If a sponsor fails to comply with its banking instrument, it could be held accountable
for its violations, up to a rescission of its approval to operate the bank. Numerous
recent reviews have shown that most agencies do not have adequate staff to monitor
the many small mitigation projects or to initiate actions against violators.
Improved Regulatory Climate
The availability of mitigation banks may allow for faster permit processing and
more streamlined decision-making by federal agencies. Bank credits can serve as a
bond or collateral to enforce compliance with the required mitigation measures. The
mitigation bank can recover the cost of establishing the credit units through a credit
purchase. This system can be much more efficient then a series of on-site mitigation
Criticisms of Mitigation Banking
Mitigation presents the difficult challenge of creating, restoring, or enhancing
complex wetland ecosystems. Many wetlands have evolved over thousands of years,
with animal and plant communities that reflect precise relationships between wet and
dry conditions. Opponents of mitigation and mitigation banking are concerned that
it is difficult to determine how fully these complex ecosystems can be reestablished
or replicated in a short time. Opposition comes from the members of the
environmental and scientific communities, but it is also important to note that within
both these communities, views range from support to strong opposition. One likely
source of skepticism from environmentalists and scientists is that they may measure
success by different, typically higher, standards than regulators. Another source is
that the poor results from on-site mitigation have heightened skepticism about
banking, and many critics have similar criticisms of both.
As mitigation banking is relatively recent and untried for many types of wetland
ecosystems, bank sponsors may not recognize current or potential problems. If a
banking site fails to maintain the promised value of the credits, then a double loss
results; at the bank and at the purchaser’s project site.
Encourages Wetland Destruction
Critics are concerned that the expanded use of mitigation banking will allow
greater destruction of wetlands. Banking provides a more efficient system for
completing mitigation requirements to applicants by simply allowing them to
purchase credits. Opponents worry that this relatively simple process will lead to a
decline in the quality of regulatory decision-making since a credit purchase may
become an increasingly accessible alternative when on-site mitigation is not feasible.
Opponents also hypothesize that if mitigation banking flourishes, pressure will
grow to use it before avoidance or minimization measures are fully considered,
resulting in even more wetland destruction. Mitigation banking could be exploited
by applicants who might try to promote inappropriate projects or avoid more
complex and costly, but environmentally superior, mitigation activities.
Uncertainty of Replacing Natural Ecosystems
Opponents claim that limits to the techniques of preservation, enhancement, and
creation of wetlands must be recognized. Preservation of existing wetlands could
result in a net loss if they were merely maintained to compensate for destroyed
wetlands. Enhancement may not completely off-set impacts to wetlands either, and
artificial enhancement could accelerate the loss process if it allowed for the
introduction of different habitats and species that did not replicate the wetland it was
intended to replace.
A portion of all banks have involved creation. However, creating wetlands
remains generally regarded as an experimental technique among knowledgeable
scientists. Critics contend that created wetlands may not be as successful as natural
wetlands. To date, created wetland areas have not replaced the equivalent attributes
of natural wetlands. Wetland protection advocates caution that a created wetland
must be evaluated over a long time period before a conclusion can be drawn on
whether equivalent functions and values have been replaced and the site is selfsufficient. Credit purchases should be authorized only after this objective is
achieved, and contingency plans, including some form of a performance bond in case
the bank fails, should be included.
Dissimilar Replacement of Wetland Habitat
Opponents claim that replacement of similar functions and values of altered
wetlands will be difficult to accomplish through a bank. Ideally, mitigation should
occur in the same watershed as the affected site, and should have similar ecological
characteristics, sometimes referred to as in-kind mitigation. Since mitigation banks
are not at the same site as the project, they may not fully replicate the mix of
functions and values that the affected wetlands provided. That mix may be
impossible to recreate due to ecological differences, the location of the bank in the
watershed, or surrounding land uses. For example, it may be impossible to recreate
significant flood storage at a wetland with the same value at a bank site, even in the
same watershed. Differences are often more subtle than this example, yet have a
substantial effect on the value of the resource. Critics contend that differences
should be accounted for in the credit system, and any uncertainty about how to value
the credits and debits should err in favor of protecting wetland resources.
Opponents also believe that the diversity of species supported by the wetland
to be altered should be fully replaced. They argue that even when replacement is
attempted, identical habitat may not be readily established at another site, resulting
in declines or the potential loss of some species, and in less diversity in the
The availability of banks could promote more purchases of mitigation credits
at sites with different replacement values. In terms of vegetation, for example, shrub,
marsh, or tidal wetlands have been the most common replacement projects. These
wetlands require less planning, management, and expense than other types of
wetlands, such as bottomland hardwood forests, and generally are more likely to be
successful. Some types, such as those with peat soils or ones that rely on ground
water or rainfall, are more difficult to create or restore. As a result, banks with
“easier” sites could be established more widely and quickly. While applicants and
bank sponsors would seek to use these easier sites whenever possible, they might
provide inadequate or inappropriate credit for degraded wetlands from a different
biological community. Expanding mitigation banking opportunities could stimulate
this kind of inappropriate mitigation, and lead to a debate over whether the bank is
a success with either less than anticipated benefits or a different mix of benefits.
While the federal guidance addresses this issue by stating that in-kind
compensation of wetland impacts should generally be required and the requests for
out-of-kind mitigation will be handled on a case-by-case basis, critics wonder
whether federal agencies can be counted on to vigorously monitor these
requirements. Requests for out-of-kind mitigation are supposed to be approved only
when it is a part of an area-wide management plan designed to address a specific
Nature of Crediting and Debiting Techniques
Critics contend that a consensus should be reached on the value of wetland
credits purchased for mitigation before banks can be utilized. Such an agreement is
necessary so that when debits are measured, team members and others can determine
the amount of credit necessary for appropriate compensation. Disagreements over
the value of a credit can be contentious, in part because alternative methods for
calculating these values are available. Probably the most widely-used method is
some version of the Habitat Evaluation Procedure (HEP), first developed by FWS
20 years ago. HEP comes in several forms, and has several competitors as well.
Some of these methods are relatively simple to use, while more complicated ones
better assess the values and functions; no single method appears to be simple yet
sophisticated. A new method for assessing functions being developed and field
tested by the federal agencies, the hydrogeomorphic approach, is not yet fully in
place. Another cause of disagreements is whether and how to differentiate the value
of credits for wetlands that are created, restored, or preserved at the bank site.
Critics worry that banking proponents are not sufficiently concerned about both
the start up of banks and the long-term liability to ensure that wetland values will be
maintained. As a part of the start up, there will be pressure to sell credits before they
have matured at the site, a practice characterized as “speculating in wetland credit
futures.”22 If the bank fails after selling credits, wetland values at both the old and
new sites are lost. Also, financial pressures on bank sponsors from the private sector
Testimony submitted by Jan Goldman-Carter on behalf of the National Wildlife
Federation to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, March 14, 1996.
could cause them to seek public lands and agency expertise, generating additional
Long-term responsibility may be at risk if enforcement mechanisms and
operating controls are inadequate and a bank fails. Many banking agreements appear
to offer little detail on enforcement and responsibility should a bank fail. There is
little evidence about the frequency with which this kind of information is included
in agreements, or even what should be required, at a minimum. Requiring a bond
and a clear assignment of liability would certainly be important to ensure the
protection of public values.
Mitigation banking is drawing increasing attention from Congress. Some
Members may view banking as an additional means to slow the decline of wetlands
and attain the “no net loss” goal. Others may view banking as an approach that
would relieve some pressure on Congress to act to further protect private property
rights by providing a market-based option that also could increase flexibility for
federal agencies administering wetland programs. Implementation of the pilot
program mitigation banking provisions in the 1996 Federal Agricultural
Improvement and Reform Act (1996 farm bill) through the Conservation Reserve
Program could create substantial new opportunities on agricultural lands. The
steadily increasing number of operating banks demonstrates an expanded interest and
an ability to overcome impediments.
Economic activity and growth will continue to threaten the existence of some
wetlands, keeping the issue of wetland protection before Congress. On-site
mitigation projects have a poor track record, supporting the claims of those who
believe that these efforts are not effective. The potential for banking to be more
successful, especially under some conditions, appears viable. However, mitigation
banking will be inhibited unless conservation interests support it, banking entities
prove that they can make the program work for a long time period, and mitigation
requirements are achieved. For Congress, the policy debate will continue to center
on how national policy should endorse or support mitigation banking as a practical
mitigation alternative for wetland protection programs. However, the 105th Congress
has yet to act on legislation that would affect mitigation banking activities.
In the 104th Congress, the House did address many of these issues as it
considered H.R. 961, Clean Water Act reauthorization legislation. Provisions in this
bill, which passed the House in May 1995, would have modified the § 404 program
in many ways. Among other things, it would have required the Corps to issue
regulations governing mitigation activities in wetlands and regulations for the
establishment, use, and oversight of mitigation banks. The Senate did not act on this
bill, or on other legislation which included similar mitigation and mitigation banking
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, however, did explore
current mitigation banking efforts at a March 14, 1996 hearing. Witnesses suggested
that there is considerable entrepreneurial interest and activity. They identified
examples of current experiences, successes and impediments, and suggested further
changes that they believe would help mitigation banking flourish. One tension in
banking was between the flexibility that proponents sought for success and the tight
administration that critics thought should be placed on these activities to ensure that
wetland resources are protected. A policy topic not addressed at the hearing that
seem certain to receive future congressional attention, is whether the federal
government should provide financial or other incentives. Should any incentives be
provided for all federally-endorsed banks, for selected “model” banking efforts, or
for no banks? Also, are non-financial incentives, such as streamlining the permit
process or providing scientific or technical assistance, either appropriate or
necessary, and if so, under what circumstances? Should a revolving fund be
established to support overall banking efforts?
Federal agencies have moved slowly in adopting mitigation banking policies.
After President Clinton announced his wetland policies in August 1993, including
support for mitigation banking, more than 2 years elapsed before the final guidance
was issued. With five agencies having to agree on the many specific issues
surrounding implementation, perhaps this is not surprising. But even after the
release of final guidance for banking, concerns over banking policy remain, and are
likely to continue.
Implementing the mitigation banking guidelines could help ensure that
degraded wetlands are fully replaced. Yet, many unanswered questions remain.
Development interests are generally strong supporters of the concept of banking.
They view banking as another alternative for the mitigation process. Many
environmentalists are skeptical of mitigation banks. They claim that banking policy
endorses wetland destruction, with little assurance that functional values will be
protected over the long term. Some of them will only support mitigation banking if
use is limited to a last option and monitored closely. They want mitigation banks to
have precise, scientifically sound rules that provide for guaranteed banking success.
Though the federal guidance seems to respond to many of these arguments,
mitigation banks must provide some long-term success stories before concerns can
be alleviated. Congress may continue to encourage banking generally, as it did in
the 1996 farm bill, but it is also likely to address these issues as part of legislation
that authorizes any specific mitigation banking programs or policies.
The following bibliography is not a comprehensive listing of the rapidly
expanding library of sources that examine wetland mitigation banking. These
sources provide an overview of current though about mitigation banking. For a
comprehensive compilation of pre-1994 publications on this topic, see the
bibliography in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report, Wetland Mitigation
Banking (IWR Report 94-WMB-6), p. 163-178.
Environmental Law Institute. Wetland Mitigation Banking. Washington, D.C. .
1993. 219 p.
Erwin, K. An Evaluation of Wetland Mitigation Within the South Florida Water
Management District, v.1. South Florida Water Management District, West
Palm Beach, FL: July 1991.
Florida Audubon Society. Wetland Mitigation Banking in Florida: Issues and
Concerns. Miami, FL:1996. n.p.
Hoagland, Roy A., et. al. "Mitigation Banking: a Tool, Not a Panacea." National
Wetlands Newsletter. v. 18, n. 4 (July/Aug, 1996). p. 1, 14-15.
Howorth, L. "Highway Construction and Wetland Loss: Mitigation Banking
Programs in the Southeastern United States." Environmental Professional,
v.13, n.2 (1991). p. 139.
Kentula, M., Sifneos, J., Good, J., Rlko, M., and Kunz, K. "Trends and Patterns in
Section 404 Permitting Requiring Compensatory Mitigation in Oregon and
Washington, USA." Environmental Management, v.16, n.1 (1992). p. 109-19.
Kusler, J. “The Mitigation Banking Debate”. National Wetlands Newsletter, v. 14,
n. 1 (Jan/Feb 1992). p. 4.
Kusler, J. "Mitigation Banks and the Replacement of Wetland Functions and
Values." Effective Mitigation: Mitigation Banks and Joint Projects in the
Context of Wetland Management Plans Symposium, Association of State
Wetland Managers, June 24-27, 1992, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. 1994, p. 5156.
Lashley, Douglas. "Guiding Mitigation Banking." National Wetlands Newsletter,
v. 17, n.6 (Nov/Dec 1995). p. 1,18-21.
Lewis, Megan. "Swamps for Sale: Wetland Mitigation Banking." Environmental
Planning, American Planning Association, Mar/Apr 1996, p. 1-4.
Marsh, Lindell, Douglas Porter, and David Salvesen (eds.), in cooperation with The
Urban Institute. Mitigation Banking: Theory and Practice. Island Press,
Washington, D.C. 1996. 300 p.
Redmond, A. "Florida Moves on Mitigation Banking."
Newsletter, v. 17, n.6 (Nov/Dec 1995). p.14-17.
Salversen, David. "Banking on Wetlands." Planning, American Planning
Association. Feb, 1995. p. 11-15.
Sibbing, Julie M. "Mitigation’s Role in Wetland Loss." National Wetlands
Newsletter, v. 19, no. 1 (Jan/Feb 1997). p. 1, 17-21.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Wetland Mitigation Banking Concepts. [prepared
by Richard Reppert] Institute for Water Resources, Alexandria, VA. July
1992, 25 p. 92-WMB-1
——. Wetlands Mitigation Banking: Resource Document. [prepared by the
Environmental Law Institute and the Institute for Water Resources] Institute
for Water Resources, Alexandria, VA. January 1994, 131 p. 94-WMB-2
——. Expanding Opportunities for Successful Wetland Mitigation: the Private
Credit Market Alternative. [prepared by Leonard Shabman, Dennis King, and
Paul Scodari] Institute for Water Resources, Alexandria, VA. January 1994,
——. First Phase Report. [prepared by Robert Brumbaugh and Richard Reppert]
Institute for Water Resources, Alexandria, VA. January 1994, 80 p. 94-WMB4
——. An Examination of Wetland Programs: Opportunities for Compensatory
Mitigation. [prepared by Apogee Research Inc.] Institute for Water Resources,
Alexandria, VA. March 1994, 96 p. 94-WMB-5
——. Wetland Mitigation Banking. [prepared by Environmental Law Institute]
Institute for Water Resources, Alexandria, VA. February 1994, 178pp. 94WMB-6
——. Commercial Wetland Mitigation Credit Markets: Theory and Practice.
[prepared by Paul Scodari, Leonard Shabman, and David White] Institute for
Water Resources, Alexandria, VA. November 1995, 89p. 95-WMB-7
—— .Watershed-based Wetlands Planning: A Case Study Report. [prepared by
David White and Leonard Shabman] Institute for Water Resources, Alexandria,
VA. December 1995, 45p. 95-WMB-8.
—— .Commercial Wetland Mitigation Credit Ventures: 1995 National Survey.
[prepared by Paul Scodari and Robert Brumbaugh] Institute for Water
Resources, Alexandria, VA. August 1996, 45p. 96-WMB-9
U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Environment and Public Works. Wetland
Mitigation Banking. Hearings. 104th Congress, 2nd session. March 14, 1996.
S. Hrg. 104-644
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a federal legislative branch agency, housed inside the
Library of Congress, charged with providing the United States Congress non-partisan advice on
issues that may come before Congress.
EveryCRSReport.com republishes CRS reports that are available to all Congressional staff. The
reports are not classified, and Members of Congress routinely make individual reports available to
Prior to our republication, we redacted names, phone numbers and email addresses of analysts
who produced the reports. We also added this page to the report. We have not intentionally made
any other changes to any report published on EveryCRSReport.com.
CRS reports, as a work of the United States government, are not subject to copyright protection in
the United States. Any CRS report may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without
permission from CRS. However, as a CRS report may include copyrighted images or material from a
third party, you may need to obtain permission of the copyright holder if you wish to copy or
otherwise use copyrighted material.
Information in a CRS report should not be relied upon for purposes other than public
understanding of information that has been provided by CRS to members of Congress in
connection with CRS' institutional role.
EveryCRSReport.com is not a government website and is not affiliated with CRS. We do not claim
copyright on any CRS report we have republished.