In 1999 An announcement was made that the Columbia river could be dredged if 1200 acres of ditched and diked flood plain was returned to the lower Columbia estuary. This is an example of mitigation and mitigation banking. In order to disturb a wetland an equal amount of land must be preserved.(in a nutshell)
TRUST GETS ALMOST $1 MILLION FOR COLUMBIA WETLANDS
March 22, 2000
Wednesday, March 22, 2000
Columbian staff writer
The Columbia Land Trust has been awarded almost $1 million to buy and restore wetlands on the lower Columbia River.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allotted $999,000 to let the Vancouver-based land trust buy more than 1,500 acres of wetlands and associated upland habitat and to restore and enhance more than 4,400 acres of wetlands.
Ducks Unlimited, a partner in the project, will design and restore the wetlands.
Highlights include buying a 900-acre estuarine marsh along the Chinook River, restoring more than 2,000 acres at the Julia Butler Hansen Wildlife Refuge near Cathlamet and restoring the 1,817-acre Smith and Bybee Lakes wildlife area in Portland.
Glenn Lamb, the trust’s executive director, called the lands some of the most significant habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds in the lower Columbia.
Other sites for work include the Grays River, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Shillapoo Lake, Eagle Island on the North Fork of the Lewis River, Sauvie Island wildlife area, Deer Island and private lands in Oregon’s Clatsop County.
The grant announced this week is by far the biggest ever received by the land trust, a non-profit organization that works with landowners on voluntary land conservation projects.
The Essayons, one of three Army Corps of Engineers dredges tasked with ongoing maintenance of the Columbia’s shipping channel, began service in 1983.
Efforts to maintain and improve the navigation channel have continued to the present day. In 1990 a new round of studies examined the possibility of further dredging on the lower Columbia. The plans were controversial from the start because of economic and environmental concerns.
In 1999, Congress authorized deepening the channel between Portland and Astoria from 40 to 43 feet (12–13 m), which will make it possible for large container and grain ships to reach Portland and Vancouver. However, the project has met opposition because of concerns about stirring up toxic sediment on the riverbed. Portland-based Northwest Environmental Advocates brought a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers, but it was rejected by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in August 2006. The project includes measures to mitigate environmental damage; for instance, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must restore 12 times the area of wetland damaged by the project. In early 2006, the Corps spilled 50 US gallons (190 L) of hydraulic oil into the Columbia, drawing further criticism from environmental organizations.
Work on the project began in 2005 and concluded in 2010. The project’s cost is estimated at $150 million. The federal government is paying 65 percent, Oregon and Washington are paying $27 million each, and six local ports are also contributing to the cost.
The Army Corps of engineers gave Columbia Land Trust $1 million dollars to start this process.
Environmental mitigation, compensatory mitigation, or mitigation banking, are terms used primarily by the United States government and the related environmental industry to describe projects or programs intended to offset known impacts to an existing historic or natural resource such as a stream, wetland, endangered species, archeological site or historic structure. To “mitigate” means to make less harsh or hostile. Environmental mitigation is typically a part of an environmental crediting system established by governing bodies which involves allocating debits and credits. Debits occur in situations where a natural resource has been destroyed or severely impaired and credits are given in situations where a natural resource has been deemed to be improved or preserved. Therefore, when an entity such as a business or individual has a “debit” they are required to purchase a “credit”. In some cases credits are bought from “mitigation banks” which are large mitigation projects established to provide credit to multiple parties in advance of development when such compensation cannot be achieved at the development site or is not seen as beneficial to the environment. Crediting systems can allow credit to be generated in different ways. For example in the United States, projects are valued based on what the intentions of the project are which may be to restore, create, enhance, or preserve a natural resource.