How is the ODC Network involved?
The ODC Network is leading Project Clarity, a community-wide effort to permanently clean, restore and maintain the waters of Lake Macatawa and the Macatawa Watershed. These waters are hypereutrophic (too rich in nutrients) because of an excess of phosphorus. This can lead to algal blooms, the spread of invasive species, and damage to the local fishery. These problems are compounded because the watershed is also highly susceptible to erosion and flooding. Development that impacts wetlands and streams is linked to the increase of sediment and phosphorus that Project Clarity is trying to address.
We understand the need to balance the economic development of the region with the impacts to the natural resources in our watershed. Wetland mitigation banking allows us to construct large wetland areas that are located and designed to maximize the water quality benefits following the EPA approved Macatawa Watershed Plan while also seeing a financial return that will allow us to leverage Project Clarity donations for many years to come. To establish the bank, the ODC Network has partnered with Niswander Environmental, the largest private wetland mitigation firm in Michigan. Currently, we have a 40-acre wetland mitigation bank and is hoping to add another 10-acre bank in the near future.
Who manages the ODC Network mitigation banks?
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) have very stringent performance standards for wetland mitigation banks. Typically a bank can be deemed successful and all the wetland “credits” can be released in 3-5 years after initial construction. To meet these standards, we have partnered with Niswander Environmental to manage the site, which includes water level management, ensuring proper plant and habitat diversity, and invasive plant controls until all “credits” have been released. After the bank is deemed successful, our land management staff will monitor and manage the site in perpetuity. A portion of the funds from the credit sales will be dedicated to the long-term management of the bank.
Who determines when and if wetland mitigation bank credits get released?
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), with oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), determines when and how many credits are released. Niswander Environmental will provide yearly monitoring reports to the MDEQ. MDEQ releases bank credits when certain vegetation, soils, and hydrology standards are met.
Will the wetland mitigation bank be protected forever?
Yes, the wetland mitigation bank has been placed under a conservation easement that is held by the MDEQ. Once the site is deemed to be a successful wetland, the site will be managed as a natural wetland area and no other development activities can occur on the property.
Is the ODC Network wetland mitigation bank open to the Public?
Yes, for certain uses, however the property is privately owned by the ODC Network and may close for certain events or seasonally as determined necessary by our leadership team. We encourage passive recreational and educational use of the wetland mitigation bank. However, hunting, motorized vehicle use, and any activity which may alter the flora or fauna of the property is not allowed.
When and how are credits purchased?
Wetland Mitigation Banking credits can be purchased by anyone who is required by the regulatory agencies (typically MDEQ) to provide wetland mitigation. Typically wetland mitigation is required as a permit condition for larger developments that are impacting wetland or stream areas. After MDEQ determines the amount of credits required for mitigation and approves the use of a registered mitigation bank, the private transaction between the ODC Network and the credit buyer may occur.
What areas are served by the Macatawa Watershed Wetland Mitigation Bank (MWWMB)?
The MWWMB serves the entire Macatawa Watershed and the Jamestown EcoRegion (VI.3.3) which includes areas in Allegan County (portions of Laketown, Fillmore, and Overisel Townships, City of Holland), Ottawa County (portions of Park, Port Sheldon, Grand Haven, Olive, Holland, Blendon, Zeeland, Jamestown, Georgetown, Tallmadge, Wright, Polkton, and Allendale Townships, City of Holland, City of Zeeland, City of Hudsonville, City of Coopersville), Kent County (portions of Byron, Alpine, Sparta, and Tyrone Townships, City of Grandville, City of Wyoming, and City of Walker), Muskegon County (Ravenna, Chester, Moorland, and Casnovia Townships), and Newaygo County (portions of Ashland Township and the City of Grant).
Who should I contact to purchase wetland mitigation bank credits?
The bank and all credit sales are managed by Niswander Environmental. If you are in need of wetland mitigation bank credits, please contact Niswander Environmental at 810-225-0539.