WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it will award $5 million for eight new wetland mitigation banking projects through the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program. This program helps conservation partners develop or establish mitigation banks to help agricultural producers maintain eligibility for USDA programs.
Minton Environmental Consultants, LLC (MEC) proposes to develop and establish an agricultural wetland mitigation bank in Arkansas. A new bank site in Arkansas will be restored on land that is currently owned by MEC in the Mississippi River floodplain. This new bank will restore bottomland hardwood wetlands using NRCS wetland restoration standards and specifications. NRCS is providing $800,000 in funding. MEC is providing $1.3 million.
“These wetlands will provide agriculture producers an affordable mitigation option to remain in compliance for USDA Farm Bill programs while establishing banks that support wetland functions. Healthy wetlands help filter our water, sequester carbon, curb soil loss, and provide habitat for wildlife,” said Kevin Norton, acting Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Wetland mitigation banks create credits through the restoration, creation, or enhancement of wetlands to compensate for impacts on wetlands at other locations. Most wetland mitigation banks, however, serve the development community and are not affordable to agricultural producers.
Producers seeking benefits through most USDA programs must comply with wetland conservation provisions by affirming they will not impact wetlands on their lands. In situations where avoidance or on-site mitigation is challenging, the Farm Bill allows producers to mitigate their conversion activities off-site through the purchase of mitigation banking credits.
This competitive grant program helps states, local governments, and other qualified partners develop wetland mitigation banks to assist agricultural producers with meeting the wetland conservation compliance requirements and remain eligible for USDA programs.