The Florida Association of Mitigation Bankers (FAMB) cheered Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing a bill into law which amends “the mitigation options for wetlands impacted by development projects to now allow local governments to authorize mitigation of conservation lands they have purchased and own, if state and federal mitigation credits are not available and financial assurances are provided by the developer for the perpetual maintenance of the land.”
Joe Sicbaldi, the president of FAMB, weighed in on the new law on Wednesday.
“As Florida continues to grow and welcome more residents, we must ensure our state’s wetlands are appropriately conserved. That is why we are pleased that Governor DeSantis signed HB 521 into law, which will help ensure that roads can be built in a timely manner and that housing stays affordable, while most importantly protecting Florida’s precious natural resources at the same time,” said Sicbaldi.
“State and federal regulations balance the need for development with Florida’s ecosystem services by requiring projects to avoid, minimize and then mitigate wetland impacts. Mitigation bank sponsors invest in restoration projects in advance of impacts and are not awarded credits unless their projects are deemed successful by the appropriate federal and state agencies. In this way, mitigation banks pay for the potential environmental impacts of development before they actually occur, thus ensuring they are in fact addressed. Mitigation banks preserve wetlands and provide financial assurances that they will be protected and maintained in perpetuity,” the FAMB noted. “In some rare instances, mitigation bank credits are unavailable, and an alternative way is needed to offset impacts. HB 521 provides for that alternative.
State Rep. Lawrence McClure, R-Plant City, brought the bill out on the House and he weighed in on it on Wednesday.
“I am grateful Governor DeSantis signed this good legislation that will help ensure Florida can continue to meet housing and infrastructure demands to keep up with the growing population of the Sunshine State, while ensuring our unique natural resources are appropriately preserved and well maintained,” said McClure.
Florida has more than 100 mitigation banks in place, covering more than 180,000 acres and servicing almost 4,300 federal permits. More than 30 mitigation banks covering almost 25,000 acres are currently in the permitting process.
Sicbaldi said that mitigation banks will continue to play a major role in the Sunshine State.
“FAMB members are deeply committed to Florida and the communities in which they operate. They strive to provide high quality ecosystem restoration to keep Florida moving forward, economically and environmentally,” said Sicbaldi.