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Mitigation and Conservation banking can play significant roles in regulatory programs administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Banking programs reduce uncertainty and delays for all parties involved and improve the success of compensatory mitigation and conservation efforts. Project proponents in need of "mitigation" to offset unavoidable authorized impacts to regulated resources like wetlands, streams, or federally-listed species, may have the option of purchasing credits from an approved mitigation or conservation bank rather than restoring, creating, or preserving these resources on or near the development site. When authorized impacts are located within the service area of an approved mitigation or conservation bank and the bank has the appropriate number and resource type of credits available, the permittee's compensatory mitigation/conservation requirements may be met by acquiring those credits from the bank sponsor.

Both mitigation and conservation banks require establishment of a formal agreement between one or more regulatory agencies (e.g., Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and the bank sponsor. The bank sponsor can be a government agency, a corporation, a private landowner, a nonprofit organization or a tribe that will undertake responsibility for the restoration, creation, or conservation activities associated with the bank. The value of a bank's resources is measured in credits, which are units of measure representing the attainment of aquatic resource function or services or species/habitat conservation at the bank site.


The links in this category provide additional information about Mitigation Concepts.
  • Basic Definitions


Mitigation Bank
A mitigation bank is a site where resources (e.g., wetlands, streams, riparian areas) are restored, established, enhanced, and/or preserved for the purpose of providing compensatory mitigation for impacts authorized by Department of the Army permits. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulates resources like wetlands and streams under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and in some cases Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. The measure of aquatic functions is based on the resources restored, established, enhanced, or preserved.
  • Benefits of Mitigation Banking 



Restrictive Covenant I Conservation Easement Instructions 

Restrictive Covenant Permits With Mitigation Plan

Restrictive Covenant Permits Without Mitigation Plan 

Model Conservation Easement for Mitigation Banks

Model Conservation Easement for Individual Permits



Conservation Bank
A conservation bank is a site where natural resources are conserved and managed in perpetuity for the purpose of offsetting unavoidable adverse impacts to the same types of resources elsewhere in the landscape. Although most conservation banks approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are for species federally listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, conservation banking programs that conserve other resources such as candidate or other species of concern, sensitive habitats, migratory birds or other trust resources can be established through various authorities. While project proponents are required to avoid and minimize impacts to listed species and other natural resources, in some cases the use of conservation banks may be the best mitigation option when on-site conservation measures are not practicable or environmentally preferable. Conservation banks may be established through restoration or preservation of existing habitat, or in some cases, through habitat enhancement or creation. Conservation banking programs should result in a net conservation benefit to the resource.

USFWS Conservation Banking web site


Mitigation Policy/Guidance
National policy and guidance on compensatory mitigation


In-lieu fee program
An In-lieu fee program involves the restoration, establishment, enhancement, and/or preservation through funds paid to a governmental or non-profit natural resources management program sponsor to satisfy compensatory mitigation requirements under Department of the Army permits. Funds are often received by the in-lieu fee program sponsor prior to undertaking compensatory mitigation projects. In lieu fee programs can involve multiple mitigation project sites.


Conservation Policy/Guidance
including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy on Conservation Banking


Assessment Tools for USACE Mobile District

The value of a mitigation bank is determined by quantifying the wetland area or stream functions restored, preserved or enhanced in terms of "credits." Wetland credit composition ratios and Stream assessment tools are utilized to determine how many credits a given bank can generate if the bank's management plan is successfully implemented. The following include wetland and stream assessment tools that are currently utilized.




Ratio Method
The Ratio Method (RM) is a qualitative approach to determining the amount of credits available at a proposed wetland mitigation bank. The RM is utilized to determine credits at mitigation banks.


Hydrogeomorphic (HGM)
The Hydrogeomorphic Approach for Assessing Wetland Functions (HGM Approach) is a procedure for measuring the capacity of a wetland to perform functions. The HGM Approach is a tool that can be used in the assessment of compensatory mitigation within the Section 404 permit review process. The hierarchical and modular nature of the approach make it adaptable to a variety of other regulatory, planning, management, and educational situations requiring the assessment of wetland functions.


Stream Assessment Tools


    The Wetland Rapid Assessment Procedure (WRAP) is a rating index developed by the South Florida Water Management District to assist in the regulatory evaluation of wetland sites that have been created, enhanced, preserved, or restored. This standardized index can be used in combination with professional judgement to provide an accurate and consistent evaluation of wetland sites.

    The WRAP rating index establishes a numerical ranking for individual ecological and anthropogenic factors (variables) that can strongly influence the success of mitigation projects. The numerical output for the variables is then used to evaluate the current wetland condition. The rating index can be used to evaluate a wide range of wetland/upland systems (e.g. emergent marsh, wet prairie, hardwood swamp, wet pine flatwoods, etc.) but it is not intended to compare different wetland community types (i.e., marsh to wet prairie) to each other.

    Use of the WRAP rating index is intended to accomplish a number of objectives: to establish a simple, accurate, consistent and timely regulatory tool; to track trends over time (land use vs. wetland impacts); and to offer guidance for environmental site plan development.


    Credit Classification for USACE Mobile District


    This section contains descriptions for the three credit classification systems utilized in RIBITS. One goal of RIBITS is to track wetland, stream, and species impacts and mitigation by these classification systems. Two national wetland habitat classification systems: the Hydrogeomorphic Wetland Assessment (HGM) (Smith et al. 1995) and Corwardin’s wetland classification system (1979) provide a common playing field for monitoring wetland status across the nation. This section may also include descriptions and tools for utilizing any regional classification systems used in specific Districts.


    Credit Classifications


    Hydrogeomorphic (HGM)




      Wetlands - Cowardin



      Habitat Success Criteria


      Bayhead Drain Habitat

      Bottomland Hardwoods

      Pine Flats Performance Standards

      Field Sampling Diagram Pine Savannah