In order to address a growing problem of significant development delays tied to a lack of available wetland mitigation credits, developers now have a new option when state and federal credits run out. Last month, the amendment to Section 373.4135, Florida Statutes was signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Wetland mitigation banks are a tool used to achieve the goal of zero wetland loss. Mitigation banks allow developers to offset the impact of building over a wetland by buying credits to a mitigation bank, thus contributing to a different wetland in the same region.
Previously, local governments were prohibited from creating or providing mitigation for a project other than its own unless it used land not purchased for conservation. The legislative change lifts this ban and allows local governments to permit mitigation of conservation lands owned by the local government when state and federal mitigation credits are unavailable. The change will fund local government-level conservation projects and increase the overall supply of wetlands that can be restored or enhanced through credit purchasing. It will also keep development projects on track when state and federal mitigation options are unavailable.
The bill, which was drafted with significant input from Bilzin Sumberg's Environmental attorneys, opens the door for economic driver projects in the region to move forward, streamlines the development process by cutting through what were considerable delays, fund local government-level conservation projects and increase the overall supply of wetlands that can be restored or enhanced through credit purchasing.