USACE Regulatory: Protect, Restore, Maintain

By Jay Townsend

Twenty-three-thousand linear feet of a natural Texas stream, impacted by decades of unlimited cattle access, has been restored and turned into a mitigation bank for unavoidable wetland loss in the future.

The Mill Branch Mitigation Stream Bank is located in northwest Denton County, Texas. The bank is a 90-acre site located in a larger 720-acre working ranch.

Mill Branch stream and vegetation.

Mill Branch stream and vegetation.

Mitigation banks are wetlands, streams, or other aquatic resource areas that are protected, restored and maintained to provide compensation for unavoidable impacts to aquatic resources permitted under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

Each year thousands of property owners take on commercial and private projects that affect the nation’s aquatic resources. In order to alleviate the unavoidable loss of waters of the United States a Corps permit may require a property owner to restore, establish, enhance or preserve other aquatic resources in order to replace those impacted by the proposed project.

Brig. Gen. Hill looks over before and after images of the Mill Branch Stream Bank restoration.

Brig. Gen. Hill looks over before and after images of the Mill Branch Stream Bank restoration.

Mitigation banks are attractive for permit holders that would otherwise be responsible for the long-term design, restoration and protection of the site.

Stream mitigation banks appeal to the Corps and other agencies charged with protecting aquatic resources because they provide larger mitigation areas with greater benefits to the local ecosystem and habitat, opposed to small mitigation plots that don’t connect.

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