The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), working with an interagency review team that includes the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, has begun efforts to establish a wetlands mitigation bank located in Staten Island, known as the Saw Mill Creek Pilot Wetland Mitigation Bank. The bank site consists of approximately 68 acres that were originally a tidal salt marsh, but have been significantly altered by filling and ditching. Public agencies or private property owners pursuing development projects that would impact wetlands in the bank service area would be able to purchase compensatory mitigation credits that would be used to create a tidal emergent marsh, mudflat, open water ecosystem at the bank site.
The exact number of credits to be generated by the bank will not be determined until the design for the site has been completed by EDC and approved by the interagency review team, and the bank has obtained all required permits. The credits will be sold to public agencies and private property owners for permitted projects involving impacts to wetlands within the bank service area. Projects proposing to utilize the credits would be submitted to the Army Corps and/or the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for consideration in conjunction with project permitting, and the utilization of credits for mitigation would be determined on a case by case basis.
The primary service area for the bank includes Manhattan and Staten Island and the western edges of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Within the primary service area, the bank would be the preference for providing mitigation for permitted authorized impacts. The secondary service area includes additional portions of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Within this service area, use of the bank for mitigation would be somewhat more restricted.
EDC has issued a request for expressions of interest (RFEI) to gauge interest from potential private-sector partners that would assist in the financing, construction, monitoring and maintenance of the bank, and the marketing and sale of the mitigation credits. Responses to the RFEI were due in February. Depending on the responses to the RFEI, the city anticipates that the next step would be to issue a targeted request for proposals to identify a team to provide these services.
Currently, there are no wetland mitigation bank credits available within New York City, despite a strong need for compensatory wetland mitigation for impacts from waterfront developments, which often cannot be effectively mitigated on site. If established, the bank would provide a critical opportunity for both public agency and private developers to compensate for wetland impacts off-site.