Mitigation Banking, an ecological and financial opportunity to compensate for the unavoidable impact on wetlands by land developers, was first promoted by the Clean Water Act of 1972 which declared an unprecedented federal interest in the protection of all U.S. wetlands. Developers were mandated to “avoid, minimize, or mitigate” their impact upon wetlands. WRI lent its expertise and support to this federal program, particularly regarding the establishment and credentialing of the “banks” themselves. Executive Director Donald Hey has championed not only the preserving but also the restoring of wetlands; his commitment to their continuous banking potential has been effective. Today Wetlands Research, Inc. is one of many private non-profit agencies providing available credits to those developers required by federal law to offset the repercussions of their land development. In turn, these mitigated wetlands, such as Neal Marsh, have become a market for the sale and purchase of compensatory credits.
WRI entered the mitigation banking program in its infancy in 1995, under the approval of the Army Corps of Engineers. Our first bank was part of the Des Plaines River Wetlands Demonstration Project in the Lake County Forest Preserves. And today, some twenty years later, WRI is still active in the mitigation banking program, conducting research at the uniquely designed Bank 4 at Neal Marsh. Mitigation banking has functioned as a successful financial stream for our 501(c)(3) organization with all proceeds generated by compensatory mitigation credits approved by the regulatory agencies supporting our research program. WRI continues to be a leader in the development of wetland markets.