Scouting Out a Better Way to Preserve Connecticut’s Wetlands

One group of Boy Scouts in Connecticut may soon provide yet another service to its communities. The Connecticut Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts of America has proposed the establishment of a stream and wetland mitigation bank at its Camp Hoyt in West Redding, Connecticut. This bank would be the first of its kind in Connecticut. A mitigation bank is a site or sites where natural resources are restored or preserved and made available to parties who need to offset unavoidable adverse impacts authorized by regulatory permits. The proposed bank initially will consist of one site, Camp Hoyt, and other sites may be added.

Depending upon the nature of an activity proposed by a developer, a permit may be required by a municipal Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and/or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If these permits authorize unavoidable adverse impacts upon wetlands or other aquatic resources at the project site, then the permits may also require compensatory mitigation to offset those impacts. Current practice in Connecticut is for the permittee to be responsible for providing the mitigation either on-site or off-site. The mitigation bank concept allows the permittee to buy credits from the bank and then the bank sponsor—not the permittee—provides the mitigation at the bank site. This fulfills the permittee’s mitigation obligation and ensures that the mitigation takes place in Connecticut.

The proposed bank will have two services areas. These service areas establish the geographic eligibility for projects to purchase credits from the bank. The proposed primary service area is the Saugatuck Watershed which drains portions of Fairfield County. The Saugatuck Watershed includes Trumbull, Bridgeport, Norwalk, Stamford and many smaller towns in the region. The proposed secondary service area is the Housatonic Watershed which drains portions of the counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven. The Housatonic Watershed includes Waterbury, Shelton, Danbury and a number of smaller towns in the region.

Regarding the current status of the proposal, the public comment period has ended. The Corps of Engineers authorized the Connecticut Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts of America to proceed with the development process and the Council is preparing the draft banking instrument required to establish this bank. The approval process is fluid, but final approval is anticipated by December 2011. Developers proposing projects in the service areas may benefit from this new opportunity.

For further information, contact the members of Pullman & Comley’s Environmental Department.

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