As part of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) investment of more than $7 million to fund agricultural wetland mitigation banks in 10 Midwest and Northern Great Plain states, the MMWA has developed a program in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to assist agricultural producers who are out of compliance with the Swampbuster provisions of the Farm Bill. This unique public-private partnership between the MMWA and the MDNR is designed to facilitate the restoration and protection of wetlands across Michigan, as well as to enhance recreational opportunities for future generations.
Swampbuster provisions prohibit USDA program participants from converting wetlands on their property without compensating for the loss—a process called wetland mitigation. Landowners with Swampbuster compliance issues generally have three options to compensate for lost wetlands and regain USDA program eligibility: (1) restore the impacted site, (2) mitigate the impacted site by creating a new site on the property elsewhere, or (3) purchase credits from a wetland mitigation bank in the same watershed to offset the impacted site.
A wetland mitigation bank is a wetland area that has been restored, enhanced, or created for the purpose of providing compensation for unavoidable wetland impacts elsewhere. Some of these wetland mitigation banks will be built on MDNR public lands, while others will be built on private land owned by landowners with expired CRP contracts. When a mitigation bank is established on private land, the landowner retains ownership and use of the property, while a conservation easement protects the wetlands from degrading activities.
As wetlands are restored, enhanced, or created by the MMWA and the MDNR, the NRCS will perform a functional assessment to determine the number of credits available for each banked area. The MMWA will then sell these credits to agricultural producers in the same watershed to satisfy mitigation requirements where avoidance or on-site mitigation is challenging.
FAQs for Agricultural Producers
Why Are the MMWA and the MDNR Involved in Swampbuster Compliance Issues?
Michigan was 1 of 10 states selected by the USDA to receive a grant to establish a wetland mitigation banking program to assist with Swampbuster compliance. Even though the NRCS will oversee this program, the MMWA will work with the MDNR to establish wetland mitigation bank sites. The MMWA will coordinate the construction of the sites and serve as the bank sponsor, while the MDNR will manage and maintain the bank sites after construction.
How Can I Tell If the MMWA Has Any Wetland Mitigation Bank Credits Available in My Location?
Once you’ve determined the location, type, and number of acres of wetland mitigation required by the NRCS for your particular project, please see our credit availability maps to determine whether we have credits available in your location.
Does It Matter What Type of Wetland Mitigation Bank Credit Is Available? How Can I Tell How Many and What Type of Credits I Need?
Wetland mitigation must be of a similar ecological type as the impacted wetland wherever feasible and practical, and the NRCS has laid out ratios of acres of wetland mitigation that must be provided for each acre of permitted wetland loss. For more information, please visit the NRCS’s website at www.nrcs.usda.gov.
What If There Are No MMWA Wetland Mitigation Bank Credits Available in My Location?
The MMWA will continue to add more sites in the years to come, and demand will be a factor in determining future site locations. Therefore, it is important to contact us when you begin planning a project with unavoidable wetland impacts.
Can I Purchase MMWA Wetland Mitigation Bank Credits Now, Even Though I Don’t Have a Permit Requiring Mitigation Yet?
Possibly. The MMWA Board will take requests for credits and make decisions on a case-by-case basis.
If I Purchase MMWA Wetland Mitigation Bank Credits and Don’t Use Them, Can I Resell Them to Someone Else?
No. Due to the limited number of credits available, any unused credits must be sold back to the MMWA and cannot be sold by you to third parties.
When Will MMWA Wetland Mitigation Bank Credits Be Available for Sale?
The MMWA is still awaiting final approval by the NRCS. Please contact us to see if we can help in the interim.