Hybart, Ala. — Alabama River Mitigation Bank (ARMB), a project by private mitigation company Westervelt Ecological Services, has been approved by agencies to restore plant and animal habitat – mostly wetlands and stream rehabilitation – on 971 acres in Wilcox and Monroe Counties. The first issue of credits (Wetland – Bottomland Hardwood and Stream) is now available.
Alabama’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (2005) states in its discussion of the Alabama River Basin that one of the highest priority conservation actions is to “improve water quality and habitat quality throughout the basin” and to “support habitat and riparian restoration.” The ARMB site has a unique landscape position within the area that compels conservation action. Part of the Alluvial/Deltaic Plain physiographic region, its ecology and geomorphology have historically been influenced by the Alabama River, which is approximately 2.2 miles southwest of the bank’s site.
A portion of Tallatchee Creek lies within the bank boundary where six specimens of freshwater mussel taxa, including one federally listed species, Pleurobema perovatum (Ovate Clubshell) were found. This is the first known positive identification for Pleurobema perovatum in Monroe County, Alabama. Additionally, Westervelt Ecological Services is participating with the ADCNR and USFWS for the release and reintroduction of the Orangenacre Mucket, Hamiota perovalis (Conrad, 1834), within a section of Tallatchee Creek.
Described by The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) “the lower Alabama River is one of Alabama’s natural treasures” having “natural beauty including high bluffs” and contains “one of the richest freshwater mussel beds in Alabama.” The lower Alabama River also provides a home for a host of fish species such as alligator gar, paddlefish, Alabama darter, and one of the most endangered species on the planet, the Alabama sturgeon.
ARMB’s service area is constituted by the Middle and Lower Alabama watersheds including portions of Wilcox, Monroe, Dallas, Clarke, Lowndes, Marengo, Butler, Perry and Baldwin counties. The bank also provides mitigation for impacts in secondary service areas within the Mobile District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the application of a proximity factor.
Environmental regulatory agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Alabama Department of Environmental Management must approve a formal mitigation bank. Mitigation banks provide enhanced environmental benefit over smaller, piece-mill 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.
Additional information, including a service area map, is available at www.wesmitigation.com.