July 23, 2014 - St. Clair County, Ala. - Westervelt Ecological Services has received federal approval to improve plant and animal habitat by restoring wetlands and streams on 237 acres in St. Clair County. The project, known as Canoe Creek Mitigation Bank (CCMB), has been approved by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers to provide wetland and stream credits in the Middle Coosa watershed for unavoidable impacts to waters of the United States which result from activities authorized under section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The first issue of credits will soon be available.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources identifies the Coosa River Basin as the largest and most biologically diverse sub-watershed of the Mobile River Basin in terms of overall number of fishes, mussels and aquatic snails. The basin is home to 147 fish species including the Coldwater Darter, Coosa Darter, Holiday Darter, and Pygmy Sculpin, which are unique to the Coosa River basin.

CCMB is ideally positioned within the Coosa River Basin as a site for wetland and stream habitat restoration and will permanently protect and restore the structure and function of approximately 6,374 linear feet of stream and riparian buffer. Wetland restoration activities on CCMB include the following habitat types: hardwood forested, riparian hardwood forested, and hardwood forested slope. These efforts meet conservation actions to improve water quality and habitat quality throughout the basin and to support habitat and riparian restoration, as specified in the Alabama Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (2005).

CCMB's service area includes portions of Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Dekalb, Etowah, Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby, and Talladega Counties that are within the Middle Coosa watershed (HUC 03150106) of the Coosa-Tallapoosa Basin. Mitigation outside of the 8 digit HUC will be allowed using the proximity multiplier method.

Environmental regulatory agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Alabama Department of Environmental Management must approve a mitigation bank in the state before credits can be sold. Mitigation banks provide enhanced environmental benefit over smaller, piece-meal mitigation and retain inherent biological, financial and legal assurances to ensure mitigation success. Economic advantages recognized by public and private sector developers include economies of scale, reduced permitting time and costs, and severance of liability.

For additional information please contact Michelle O'Neal at (205) 562-5213.

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