OLYMPIA — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington Department of Ecology and Pacific County have certified the operation of a wetland mitigation bank on 76 acres of privately owned land north of the city of Long Beach.

    LBMB of Longview, the company that will build and operate the bank, will permanently protect the bank site through a conservation easement.

    “Wetland mitigation banking creates an economic incentive for restoring, creating, enhancing and preserving wetlands. Wetland mitigation banks are an important strategy for engaging the private sector and power of the marketplace to sustain Washington’s remaining wetlands,” the DOE said last week.

    State and federal agencies believe wetlands are essential for protecting Washington waters. They support and protect communities and businesses by filtering drinking water, holding floodwaters, providing fish and wildlife habitat and supporting wildlife-related recreation.

    While there are about 12 other banks operating across the state, the Long Beach bank is the first to be formally certified under both state and federal rules in Pacific County.

    Corps Seattle District Regulatory Branch Chief Muffy Walker said, “Mitigation banks are an important tool for the Corps to have available for improving the success of environmental mitigation efforts on the Long Beach Peninsula.”

    The Long Beach wetland bank is designed to protect portions of an important mature interdunal wetland system made up of a wide wetland swale with multiple dune ridges that extends about 15 miles along the length of the Long Beach Peninsula. The site also includes forested uplands with mature and old growth trees.

    The Long Beach wetland bank is primarily a preservation project that also includes enhancement elements that will offer credits — subject to regulatory approval — for development projects on the Peninsula.

    The availability of wetlands credits, however, does not eliminate state and federal regulations requiring developers to first avoid and minimize wetland damage.

    The bank is located east of Ocean Beach Highway (State Route 103) at the end of 148th Place north of Long Beach. It augments other wetland protection and conservation efforts on the Peninsula.

    In 2010, Ecology received a $1 million federal grant and worked with the Columbia Land Trust to acquire and protect an additional 125 acres of coastal wetlands, forest and streamside habitat to the Island and Loomis Lakes conservation area on the Peninsula.

    The Long Beach wetland bank is located south of this project and will further protect this critical wetland system by extending conservation efforts south of Loomis Lake.

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