JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Maryland
- The U.S. Air Force at Joint Base Andrews (JBA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), GreenTrust Alliance and GreenVest LLC announced the completion of the first Umbrella Mitigation Banking Instrument (UMBI) for the Department of Defense in Maryland during an event held at The Courses at Andrews, Sept. 6, 2018.
The first site to be restored under the UMBI is Mattawoman Creek in Pomfret, which is in Charles County. The entire project yields nearly 38 wetland credits and almost 1,600 stream credits to provide potential mitigation for planned construction efforts on JBA, such as runway construction or expansion.
“This instrument acts as an advanced solution and will help facilitate timely permit issuance and meet requirements outlined in permits for essential planned capital improvement projects,” said Col. Andrew Purath, JBA 11th Wing commander. “We are the backdrop for some of the most important pieces of American history. We have an obligation to maintain the airfield and our mission, and this bank is historic for the base, the state and the community.”
Projects potentially impacting wetlands or navigable waterways in Maryland must first receive a permit to start construction from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, or MDE, depending on the size of the project. A permit is issued when it is anticipated the benefits will outweigh the project impacts, and, many times, includes special conditions that the applicant must follow to reduce harmful impacts to the environment. An applicant must ensure there is no net loss of wetlands resulting from the project; therefore, as part of the permit, the applicant must agree to protect, create, or restore the number of acres they are impacting from the project.
"Having a bank of pre-approved suitable land to pull credits from for mitigation requirements reduces the costs and time commitments associated with having to find mitigation elsewhere,” said Purath.
More than 80 acres of land at the Mattawoman Creek mitigation site is now permanently protected via a conservation easement held by GreenTrust Alliance. This area is classified by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as highly significant for biodiversity conservation to support critical species and habitats. At this site, more than 65 acres of wetlands will be restored, created, enhanced or preserved, which is estimated to capture approximately 75 tons of carbon per year. Streams will be restored along nearly 3,800 feet through re-establishment of historic floodplain. More than 28,500 native trees and shrubs will also be planted, creating habitat for the state-threatened Selys’ Sundragon.
“Our team of in-house experts assisted Joint Base Andrews in identifying and investigating potential areas to perform the wetland mitigation,” said Dave Morrow, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, deputy district engineer. “Through an Army Corps contract, our team managed the efforts of GreenVest and Princeton Hydro to complete the design; engineering and modeling; and permitting of the Mattawoman site. This is a true public-private partnership success with everyone pitching in and working together.”
“Mattawoman Creek is a very highly valued tributary to the Chesapeake Bay,” said Lynn Buhl, MDE assistant secretary. “I applaud JBA and this team for voluntarily setting up this sort of savings account. Maryland is strident and motivated to protect the Bay, and this project blazed the trail for all Department of Defense agencies. With this bank, the environment wins, we win, and the DOD wins.”