Mitigation Banks

Mitigation banks are a regulatory innovation that provide a means of compensating for the negative impact of planned development activities in advance. Thus far, the use of mitigation banks has been limited largely to wetlands. Wetlands are restored, enhanced, or created in designated mitigation areas using "credits" from a successfully established "mitigation bank" as allowable mitigation for subsequent development activities. The model seems likely to have increased application in endangered species mitigation contexts as well.

The advantages touted for mitigation banking include the ability to carry out larger scale mitigation projects that have a higher likelihood of succeeding than if this work were done in a piecemeal, project-by-project fashion, and the greater certainty of success in mitigation when done in advance through banking than if done contemporaneously with project implementation. 

One of the major concerns with mitigation banking is that it will shift attention away from avoiding or minimizing wetland losses and instead encourage compensation for such losses through "technological fixes" such as the restoration, enhancement, or creation of wetlands elsewhere. Implicit in this concern is the belief that existing wetlands are likely to be more enduring or of higher quality than those achieved by restoring, creating, or enhancing wetlands.

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