No Net Loss Case Study: Wetland Banking in Chicago (USA)
Compensation for permitted losses of wetlands and streams has been approved under the Clean Water Act in the USA since the late 1970s. A form of compensation known as wetland and stream banking was developed in the 1980s and has come to dominate compensation practices in the US. While most banks were initially developed by government agencies, the large majority of banks are now private and entrepreneurial. Although banking solves many of the problems identified with other forms of compensation, it does not do away with issues of temporal and spatial losses of wetland acreage and function. Data are presented from the use of compensation banking for wetland impacts permitted between 1994 and 2002 in the Chicago District of the US Army Corps of Engineers. While “no net loss” of wetland acreage is achieved by the end of the period, wetlands are not always present at bank sites by the time of the impact for which they compensate. Furthermore, whether “no net loss” is achieved depends on the scale at which the question is posed. Because of the spatial clustering of bank sites, banking results in losses being spread across many small watersheds while gains are concentrated in a few small watersheds.
KeywordsWetland banking Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act Compensation Mitigation
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