A mitigation bank is a wetland, stream or other aquatic resource area that has been restored, established, enhanced, or preserved. This resource area is then set aside to compensate for future impacts to aquatic resources resulting from permitted activities. The value of a bank is determined by quantifying the aquatic resource functions restored, established, enhanced, and/or preserved in terms of "credits." Permittees, upon approval of regulatory agencies, can acquire these credits to meet their requirements for compensatory mitigation.
Mitigation banks are a "performance-based" form of wetland and stream replacement because, unlike in-lieu fee mitigation and permittee-responsible mitigation, the tradable aquatic resource restoration credits generated by banks are tied to demonstrated achievement of project goals. In its 2001 critique of wetland replacement practices, the NRC highlighted advantages of third-party compensation such as mitigation banks and in-lieu fee programs noting that Mitigation banks use a multi-resource agency process that brings more expertise and collaboration into the planning, approval, and oversight of wetland restoration and protection projects; and Mitigation banks have less risk than permittee-responsible mitigation projects to achieve desired long-term outcomes and to provide wetlands, streams, and other aquatic habitats that are protected.
NEW - Savannah District's 2018 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) For Compensatory Mitigation