Locust Fork Mitigation Bank is Approved!
Locust Fork Mitigation Bank, located in Blount County, Alabama, has been approved. The 111.4 acre bank is immediately adjacent to the Locust Fork River, known for its richness of aquatic invertebrates including several endangered mussel, fish, and snail species. The Locust Fork drainage area is targeted as a conservation action area in Alabama's Conservation Wildlife Action Strategy and is a priority conservation area for both the Freshwater Land Trust, who holds the conservation easement on the property, and others in the conservation community.

The bank is approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to offset unavoidable impacts to jurisdictional wetlands and streams regulated under Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act in portions of Etowah, Blount and Jefferson Counties within the Locust Fork Watershed of the Black Warrior-Tombigbee Basin.
The Locust Fork Mitigation Bank primary service area consists of the Locust Fork watershed including portions of Blount, Etowah, and Jefferson Counties. Additionally, credits from the bank may be used to offset impacts in watersheds throughout the state with the application of a proximity calculation as determined by the Mobile District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
To learn more about Locust Fork Mitigation Bank and other WES banks please visit our website at, or contact Michelle O'Neal.
Wood Storks Sited at St. Marks Mitigation Bank
A large wading bird in the stork family, wood storks - the only stork known to breed in North America - have been documented at St. Marks Mitigation Bank. During a site visit in June, two wood storks were observed utilizing habitat on the bank property. The two individuals were a part of a larger group of nearly a dozen wood storks seen circling over the bank.

The 1,450-acre mitigation bank provides ideal foraging habitat within a vast assemblage of conserved lands. Suitable foraging habitat for wood storks includes freshwater wetlands supporting small fish, frogs, and other aquatic prey, which is the habitat being protected and restored at the bank. It includes cypress wetlands, mixed wetland hardwoods, pine flatwoods, marshes, swamps and bogs.

We are pleased the restoration work at the bank is contributing to the recovery of this species. The wood stork is listed as threatened in Florida. Florida has the largest nesting population in the U.S. range, which includes Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Mississippi. In June, 2014, the species was downgraded under the Endangered Species Act from federally endangered to federally threatened. Projects with impacts to suitable foraging habitat within Core Foraging Area of a colony site require compensation within a service-approved wetland mitigation bank or wood stork conservation bank. Wetland mitigation credits from the St. Marks Mitigation Bank represent an appropriate form of compensation for impacts to suitable foraging habitat.

Visit the project page on our website for additional information on the bank.
Restoration Underway at Grasslands Mitigation Bank
Construction is underway at our newly approved Grasslands Mitigation Bank in Merced County, California. The 281-acre bank is re-establishing habitat to support the state and federally threatened Giant Garter snake ( Thamnophis gigas, GGS). Habitat types being developed at the bank include a matrix of emergent marsh and uplands and seasonally inundated (Seasonal Wetlands). To create the proposed habitat features, portions of the existing agricultural field are being de-leveled to create the habitat complex. De-leveling consists of cutting the existing channels and depressions in the marsh then using the fill to create berms and mounds. New water control structures are being installed to allow adjustments in the water level in the GGS emergent marsh for the purpose of vegetation control.  A total of approximately 180 acres of GGS habitat will be developed in a matrix consisting of approximately 90 acres of emergent marsh (a matrix of perennial and annual wetland plants and open water areas) and approximately 90 acres of uplands.

Approximately 46 acres of Seasonal Wetlands (Palustrine Emergent Marsh) will be restored in the 90-acre northeast portion of the bank property. These wetlands will receive no supplemental water from pumps or irrigation ditches and will rely on seasonal rainfall and surface drainage to create wetland hydrology.  Analysis of reference wetlands has indicated that when established these created wetlands will likely contain an array of salt-tolerant plants such as saltbush ( Atriplex spp.), saltgrass ( Distichlis spicata), alkali heath ( Frankenia salina), alkali weed ( Cressa truxillensis), iodine bush ( Allenrolfea occidentalis), pickleweed ( Salicornia spp.), greasewood ( Sarcobatus vermiculatus), seep weed ( Sueda spp), alkali sacaton grass ( Sporobolis airoides), swamp timothy ( Crypsis schoenoides), and rabbits foot grass ( Polypogon monspeliensis).

The bank is approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to offset unavoidable impacts to the GGS as regulated under both the federal and California Endangered Species Acts (ESA & CESA), and to jurisdictional freshwater wetlands (404 wetlands) as regulated under Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act. Credits from the project will provide regulatory relief for permit application in the lower San Joaquin Valley, where no bank is currently approved.

The GGS Service Area consists of the Northern Tulare Basin, San Joaquin Basin and a portion of the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta Recovery Units. The Wetlands Service Area includes the EPA Level III ecoregion (California Central Valley) that lies within the two 6-digit HUC's that encompass the San Joaquin and Tulare Basins north of the Kings River.

To learn more about this and other WES banks please visit our website at
Apple Road - A Turnkey Mitigation Solution
WES is currently developing a turnkey mitigation solution opportunity at the 644 acre Apple Road property in Sacramento County. The site is a mosaic of vernal pools in a grassland landscape located within the Cosumnes/Rancho Seco Vernal Pool Core Area and South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan (SSHCP) Area. The property provides habitat for tadpole shrimp, vernal pool fairy shrimp and Swainson's hawk. The tadpole shrimp habitat is an ecological benefit in its adjacency and connectedness with other Conservation Banks and land owned by the California Department Fish and Wildlife. The ecological significance of the Apple Road site is also illustrated by the fact that the property was included in an area previously mapped as Critical Habitat by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The site supports approximately 48 acres of vernal pool habitat preservation and provides a minimum of 12 acres of vernal pool habitat creation opportunities. WES has improved the design density analysis within the field design and state has conducted state of the art soil sampling. In addition, WES has completed five years of reconnaissance surveys to document the presence of listed crustacean species within these pools. A rich assemblage of vernal pool invertebrates have been documented in the pools.

The drainage and ponded locations on the property support mature cottonwood trees, which provide potential perching or nesting locations for Swainson's hawk. The grasslands on Apple Road provide upland foraging habitat for this species, which complements the patchwork of irrigated pasture west of the property.

For more information about the project and the mitigation solution opportunity, download the project summary pamphlet.
Nicolaus Ranch Conservation Bank
Located in Sacramento County, adjacent to the Cosumnes River Preserve, the pending Nicolaus Ranch Conservation Bank is a 40 acre restoration project that will provide regulatory relief for permit applications removing elderberry shrubs ( Sambucus nigra). Conservation of elderberry shrubs is critical to the survival of the federally threatened Valley elderberry longhorn beetle ( Desmocerus californicus dimorphus, VELB) which utilizes the shrub for habitat.

The site is ideally located for development as a VELB Conservation Bank due to its location within the conservation landscape and its proximity to other riparian restoration sites. The project will restore an existing agricultural field back to its native riparian habitat, consistent with the conservation guidelines for VELB. The planting plan will be guided by soils and hydrology to maximize elderberry clustering, and riparian restoration success.

To learn more about the project, contact Travis Hemmen.
California Red-Legged Frog Workshop Opportunity
Westervelt Ecological Services, in partnership with Dudek, hosted its fourth California Red-legged frog workshop at Big Gun Conservation Bank in Placer County, California, on August 20, 2015. The workshop provided private consultants, local government staff, and agency staff from around the state the opportunity to learn how to identify the species and become familiar with the unique habitat features associated with this species in the Sierra Nevada.

Big Gun Conservation Bank supports the largest known breeding population of California red-legged frog in the Sierra Nevada and is approved to sell California red-legged frog credits to projects with impacts to the species in Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, and Yuba County. 

To learn more about the site and the credits available please contact Travis Hemmen at (916) 646-3644.
Credit Corner - Swainson's Hawk
WES has recently received additional credits for banks in California and Florida.

St. Marks Mitigation Bank

St. Marks has received a release for satisfactory completion of the hydrologic enhancement construction and release of 15.7 credits (8.2 wet prairie/flatwoods and 7.5 cypress/mixed forested) from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on July 13. This accompanies the 23.72 palustrine forested credits released by the USACE in March.

Dutchman Creek Conservation Bank

Located in Merced County, California, the bank is established to provide credits for several federally and/or California listed threatened or endangered species. Species credits recently released and available include:
  • Vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi) (VPFS)
  • Vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) (VPTS)
  • Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio) (COFS)
  • California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) (CTS)
  • San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) (SJKF)
  • Swainson's hawk (Buteo swainsonii) (SWHA)
  • Western spadefoot toad (Spea hammondii) (WSFT)
  • Western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) (BUOW)
Grasslands Mitigation Bank

WES is currently restoring a matrix of seasonal wetlands, aquatic habitats, and uplands on the bank property located in Merced County, California. Giant Garter snake (GGS) credits are now available to offset impacts regulated by the Federal and State Endangered Species Acts.

Big Gun Conservation Bank

Approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Big Gun has one of the largest populations of California Red-legged frog (CRLF) in the Sierra Nevada. The Bank has additional CRLF credits available.

Cosumnes Floodplain Mitigation Bank

The bank is approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Department of Fish and Wildlife to offer Floodplain Mosaic Wetlands (riparian wetlands and seasonal wetlands) under the Clean Water Act and Floodplain Riparian Habitat (Riparian Forest, Scrub Shrub), Floodplain Riparian Habitat Preserved (Enhanced) and Shaded Riverine Aquatic (SRA) credits. Additional credits are now available.
Upcoming Conference Schedule
Look for WES at conferences in your area this fall and winter!

Rally: The National Land Conservation Conference
Sacramento, CA
October 8-10, 2015

AL/MS Chapters of the American Planning Association
Orange Beach, AL
October 9-11, 2015

Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) - Southeast Chapter Annual Meeting 
Knoxville, TN
October 14-16, 2015

Focus on the Future
Newport Beach, CA
November 15-17, 2015

ACWA Fall Conference
Los Angeles, CA
December 1-4, 2015

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