When plans for a $243.5 million industrial park in St. Louis County, Missouri, failed to come together, the developers looked for an alternative way to profit from the site. They found the answer in a 2.6 mile section of Fox Creek, which runs through the property. With the help of the Missouri Conservation Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the nation's first stream mitigation bank was approved.
Federal law requires that developers mitigate any damage they cause to aquatic resources in the course of their projects. Now in Missouri, developers who adversely affect streams can purchase credits from the Fox Creek Mitigation Bank.
Unlike the more common wetland banks, which can be created from previously fallow land, a stream mitigation bank must be created by rehabilitating an existing degraded stream. The property owners will plant 5,000 trees and shrubs creating a 300-foot-wide protected stream corridor through their property. In return, they will be allowed to sell 197.2 stream mitigation credits. In some areas, credits from wetland mitigation efforts have sold for as much as $60,000 an acre.
Now that the mitigation bank has given the stream a quantifiable value, both the developers whose project stalled as well as those seeking to move forward with other projects can all benefit.