In late January, EQR Estimators Katrina Emery and Rick Scaffidi had the opportunity to attend the Maryland Quality Initiative Conference (MdQI) in Baltimore, MD. The conference concentrated on new ecological innovations and included discussions on the environmental impacts of highway construction, mitigation banking, and habitat conservation.
When highways are constructed, the nearby ecosystems are frequently disturbed, causing adverse effects to the local flora and fauna. The MdQI conference included discussion on how to mitigate these effects, which included solutions such as encouraging mitigation banking on highway construction projects. Mitigation banks will help preserve and enhance wetlands, streams, and habitat conservation areas which will help offset expected damages to nearby ecosystems.
The US EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) has defined four distinct components of a mitigation bank:
The bank site: the physical acreage that is restored, established, enhanced, or preserved.
The bank instrument: the formal agreement between the bank owners and regulators establishing liability, performance standards, management and monitoring requirements, and the terms of bank credit approval.
The Interagency Review Team (IRT): the interagency team that provides regulatory review, approval, and oversight of the bank.
The service area: the geographic area within which permitted impacts can be compensated for at a given bank.
Mitigation banks will hopefully preserve the environment and lead to less damages as urban development continues. This is just one of the many conferences EQR attends in the hopes of learning about and advocating for the environmental solutions that will continue to protect and sustain our planet.