Q: What is a wetlands mitigation bank?
A: A mitigation bank is a piece of property where wetlands areas are restored, created, enhanced or preserved to offset the future destruction of a similar ecosystem somewhere else. The goal is to replace the functions and values of the wetlands that will be filled in or otherwise lost -- for example, replaced by a new housing subdivision -- so that there is "no net loss" of those functions and values. Purchasing a credit in the WetBank offsets a debit somewhere else. Mitigation bank wetlands also are created BEFORE credits are sold, meaning the new wetlands are in place before losses occur.
Q: Why do they call it a "bank?"
A: Like a bank where you deposit your money, a mitigation bank stores and protects valuable environmental resources. A wetland mitigation bank is a piece of property containing wetlands that have been preserved, restored or enhanced. The value and functions of wetlands in the bank is quantified according to a scientific assessment method as "credits." The same assessment method quantifies the "debits" of a federally protected wetlands set to be destroyed by a governmental entity or private developer. The developer purchases a credit in the bank to offset his debits elsewhere. Income from these credits is used to permanently maintain the bank.
Q: The Greens WetBank sounds intriguing. Can I visit the site?
A: While the Greens Bayou Wetlands Mitigation Bank is not generally open to the public, the Harris County Flood Control District is proud of the WetBank and encourages tours -- by reservation -- for educational and wildlife groups. Training classes for wetland delineation and plant identification have visited in the past, along with college science classes, birding groups, consultants, and other interested parties. The site has no restroom facilities and very limited parking. Please contact us to arrange your tour.
Q: When will additional credits become available?
A: The Harris County Flood Control District is currently selling credits from Subdivision B. When those credits are exhausted, we hope to begin selling Subdivision C credits. It may be one to two years before Subdivision C credits are available to be sold.
Q: What happens if I have reserved credits that no longer are needed?
A: Unfortunately the credit reservation deposit is not refundable. Available credits are quickly reserved as soon as they become available by projects with a need. The credit reservation deposit is meant to discourage "tying up" of a limited commodity by projects that do not truly need them. The Harris County Flood Control District encourages discussions with your U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager prior to credit reservation, to determine if the Greens Bayou Wetlands Mitigation Bank is right for your project.
Q: Are mitigation credits for tidally influenced wetlands or stream impacts available within the Greens Bayou Wetlands Mitigation Bank?
A: No. The Greens WetBank can only mitigate for impacts to forested freshwater and herbaceous wetlands. The Bank cannot be used as mitigation for tidally influence wetlands or stream impacts.
Q: What are the limits of the Greens Bayou Wetlands Mitigation Bank service area?
A:Under our new 2014 Mitigation Banking Instrument, the service area for Greens WetBank -- like all new mitigation banks -- considers the needs of the watershed in which it is located, rather than Harris County as a whole. This service area is defined using Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs), which are 8-digit numbers identifying a waterway sub-basin within its basin, sub-region and region. See our Service Area map to determine in which service area your project is located.
Q: Do mitigation ratios apply to the Greens Bayou Wetlands Mitigation Bank?
A: Under the original Memorandum Of Agreement (MOA), mitigation credit ratios did not apply to Greens WetBank. However, under the amended Mitigation Banking Instrument (MBI), ratios do apply and will be dependent on a project's location in our upcoming new Service Areas. See our Service Area map to determine in which service area your project is located. Credits will be sold based on the project's location in our Service Area and on an assessment of the impacted wetlands' quality and functions.
Q: Are credits transferable to other projects?
A: No. Each credit purchase is uniquely tied to a specific U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit. The credits can only be transferred if the Corps permit is transferred to a new owner of the debtor site.
Q: Does a credits purchase give me property rights within the Greens Bayou Wetlands Mitigation Bank?
A: No. The Harris County Flood Control District owns Greens WetBank and issues each debtor a receipt of credit purchase. This receipt entitles the holder to the specific credits, but explicitly does not confer or imply ownership by the permittee of any property interest within the Greens WetBank.
Q: What are my on-going obligations after I have paid for my mitigation within the Greens Bayou Wetlands Mitigation Bank?
A: None! You have absolutely no on-going responsibility once you complete the credit sales process. All monitoring and maintenance of wetlands are the responsibility of the Harris County Flood Control District.