The federal government of the United State, under the Clean Water Act (section 404), requires remission for the destruction of any stream, wetland or endangered habitat of wildlife. Many states and local governments require this too. The mitigation bank, once given a go signal by certain agencies, may sell stream credits and/or wetland credits to companies whose projects may affect these different ecosystems.
Stream credits and wetland credits are the units of trade and are denoted as the ecological worth identified with one acre of an ecosystem or wetland and one foot of a stream performing at the highest capacity within the area of the bank. How much credit a mitigation bank has is first evaluated by an environmental expert according to the Corps of Engineers technical standards then finally reviewed and approved by a team of Mitigation Bank Reviewers.
All or some of these agencies may make up the Mitigation Bank Review team: Soil Conservation Service, Districts County Environmental Departments, Local Water Management, State Environmental Protection Divisions, Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency, National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S Army Corps of Engineers.
What are the advantages of purchasing stream credits from mitigation banks compared to other acceptable practices?
For one, mitigation banks allow for ease of development. They allow a developer to maximize the use of their site by decreasing permitting time since the stream credits are created prior to impacts. This also makes the cost lower compared to other acceptable alternatives.
Another advantage is that mitigation banks lay lasting conservation easement on the area. Many owners of large lands are incapable of long-term care of their land to enable its ecological functionality due to the enormity of the cost and complexity of the task. By combining necessary services to maintain, create and monitor mitigation; banks are able to provide great service for a low price. Providing stream credits and wetland credits over a large area of land, allows larger ecosystems to thrive yielding higher quality streams and wetlands than on the individual sites.