Bank on it

Mitigation banking is a trade-off process that allows for either a naturally occurring or created wetland area to be preserved and then used as compensation for the future development of other wetlands within a prescribed region.

In other words, developers who want to pave over their own sensitive habitat to make way for houses, commercial buildings or other projects can buy mitigation credits from the owner of the mitigation bank. The mitigation bank must, obviously, contain sanctioned wetlands and certain endangered species, like Butte County meadowfoam and fairy shrimp. Federal and state regulatory agencies such as the U.S, Fish & Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Fish and Game must sign off the property as a qualified mitigation bank.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, mitigation banking is more cost-effective for developers than trying to preserve wetlands on the same property they are developing. It also eliminates the risk of the preserved wetlands failing over time.

Plus, the EPA says, saving large swaths of wetlands is more environmentally beneficial than trying to save smaller fragmented wetlands.

There are about 100 mitigation banks in use or proposed in 34 states. Until recently, most were publicly owned and operated, unlike Butte County’s Dove Ridge, which is owned by Loafer Creek.

According to the Loafer Creek Web site (, its 2,400-acre Dove Ridge mitigation bank includes Butte County meadowfoam as well as vernal pools that contain fairy and tadpole shrimp, all of which are listed as endangered species. —T.G.