The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently awarded nearly $4.7 million in grant funding for the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program (WMBP), a grant program that supports the development of mitigation banks for the restoration, creation or enhancement of wetlands to compensate for unavoidable impacts to wetlands at another location.
The awarded funding is being added to the more than $17 million that has been provided to 16 partners in 11 states since 2016. This year’s awards prioritized projects in states with significant wetland acreage as well as large numbers of producers with wetland determination requests.
“The Wetland Mitigation Banking Program supports critical wetland restoration and protection while also expanding options for producers,” said Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Terry Cosby. “Wetlands provide valuable ecosystem functions, such as sequestering carbon, providing habitat and recharging groundwater. These projects allow us to collaborate with states, local governments and other qualified partners to restore, create and enhance wetland ecosystems.”
Awarded projects include $499,000 for Corblu Ecology Group, LLC in Georgia. NRCS has partnered with the group since 2016. They are working with the environmental consulting firm to develop multiple mitigation bank sites to sell credits to producers statewide.
The WMBP helps agricultural producers comply with wetland conservation provisions and conserve ecologically important wetlands by allowing for off-site mitigation through the purchase of credits from wetland banks established and run by local partners.
NRCS awarded the first WMBP grants in 2016 and to date, 31 wetland bank sites have been established through the program, totaling over 1,500 acres. Several more sites have been secured and are in various stages of the restoration process.
Awardees may use WMBP funding to support mitigation bank site identification, development of a mitigation banking instrument, site restoration, land surveys, permitting and title searches and market research. WMBP funding cannot be used to purchase land or a conservation easement.