For the Authority, sustainability goes beyond recovering materials and energy from solid waste. It also means being good stewards of the natural resources managed by the Authority. None of the Authority’s programs demonstrate this better than the Conasauga River Mitigation Bank (CRMB) owned and operated by the Authority.
A mitigation bank is a wetland, stream or other aquatic resource area that has been restored, established, enhanced, or preserved and then set aside to compensate for future impacts to aquatic resources resulting from permitted activities. The value of a bank is determined by quantifying the aquatic resource functions restored, established, enhanced, and/or preserved in terms of “credits.” Permittees, upon approval of regulatory agencies, can acquire these credits to meet their requirements for compensatory mitigation. Mitigation banks are a “performance-based” form of wetland and stream replacement because, unlike in-lieu fee mitigation and permittee-responsible mitigation, the tradable aquatic resource restoration credits generated by banks are tied to demonstrated achievement of project goals. (US Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District. “Mitigation Banking.” 1 Oct. 2008. 25 March 2009: http://www.sas.usace.army.mil/regulatory/banking.html.)
The CRMB occupies three tracts of land totaling approximately 120 acres on the west bank of the Conasauga River in southeast Whitfield County, near unincorporated Tilton and not far from the landfill. Activities at the CRMB include riparian preservation, riparian enhancement, wetland preservation, wetland enhancement, wetland restoration, stream channel restoration and upland buffer enhancement and preservation. Activities commenced in the fall of 2005 and were completed in the winter of 2008. During this time, over 30,000 native trees and shrub species have been planted and approximately 3,750 feet of full dimension, pattern and profile stream restoration has been constructed. In addition to the environmental benefits, the CRMB results in economic benefits by selling the generated wetland and stream credits to developers to offset their project impairment.