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A Win for the Environment: The Saw Mill Creek Wetland Mitigation Bank

Apr 02 2019
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NYCEDC and the City are leading the charge to clean and restore the Saw Mill Creek Wetland by selling mitigation credits—a first for a major city like New York. Here’s what you need to know about the process.

What is the Saw Mill Creek Wetland?

The Saw Mill Creek Wetland is a 70-acre area of coastal wetland on Staten Island’s western shore that’s in the final stages of being cleaned and restored to its natural state.

Why are wetlands important?

Wetlands are home to water-purifying plants; serve as a wildlife refuge for birds, fish, shellfish, and other animals; and protect the coast from storms and flooding by absorbing wave energy.

What is mitigation?

Mitigation is a process that waterfront projects must go through to offset any negative environmental effects of a project’s construction by supporting an environmental restoration at another site. In New York, developers usually have to seek out mitigation projects on their own, which often results in project delays. By setting up New York’s first-ever mitigation credit bank at the Saw Mill Creek Wetland, NYCEDC and the City are helping to streamline that process, while also funding an important wetland restoration work. The Saw Mill Creek Wetland is the first credit bank of its kind in a large metropolitan area.

So, what is a mitigation bank?

A mitigation bank is an environmental project large enough to allow buy-in from multiple parties. Each party (generally, public authorities or commercial developers) purchases mitigation credits to help fund restoration work in the bank, which is often a designated area like the Saw Mill Creek Wetland. Rather than finding a project to sponsor alone, that credit purchase offsets the impacts of a proposed development and allows projects to receive permits from federal and state regulators.

What are the benefits of mitigation banking?

Mitigation banking is an efficient and effective way to preserve and restore the natural environment. It also streamlines the development process, enabling project sponsors to buy credits from an approved bank before undertaking a development or infrastructure project, rather than having to seek regulatory approval for their own mitigation projects—which can take months to identify, design, and permit.

How long has this been going on?

The Saw Mill Creek Wetland site was designated as a wetland mitigation bank in 2015, and since then has gone through several rounds of credit sales.

How can I get involved?

If your business is building and looking to secure a mitigation, click here for more information on how to submit a bid for credits.