2004 Florida Statutes
Establishment and operation of mitigation banks.
(1) MITIGATION BANK PERMITS.--The department and the water management districts may require permits to authorize the establishment and use of mitigation banks. A mitigation bank permit shall also constitute authorization to construct, alter, operate, maintain, abandon, or remove any surface water management system necessary to establish and operate the mitigation bank. To obtain a mitigation bank permit, the applicant must provide reasonable assurance that:
(a) The proposed mitigation bank will improve ecological conditions of the regional watershed;
(b) The proposed mitigation bank will provide viable and sustainable ecological and hydrological functions for the proposed mitigation service area;
(c) The proposed mitigation bank will be effectively managed in perpetuity;
(d) The proposed mitigation bank will not destroy areas with high ecological value;
(e) The proposed mitigation bank will achieve mitigation success;
(f) The proposed mitigation bank will be adjacent to lands that will not adversely affect the perpetual viability of the mitigation bank due to unsuitable land uses or conditions;
(g) Any surface water management system to be constructed, altered, operated, maintained, abandoned, or removed within the mitigation bank will meet the requirements of this part and the rules adopted thereunder;
(h) It has sufficient legal or equitable interest in the property to ensure perpetual protection and management of the land within a mitigation bank; and
(i) It can meet the financial responsibility requirements prescribed for mitigation banks.
(2) MITIGATION BANK PHASES.--A mitigation bank may be established and operated in phases if each phase independently meets the requirements for the establishment and operation of a mitigation bank. The number of mitigation credits assigned to a phase of a mitigation bank may be less than would be assigned to that phase upon completion of all phases of the mitigation bank. In such case, the department or water management districts shall increase the number of mitigation credits awarded to subsequent phases of the mitigation bank.
(3) ADDITION OF LANDS.--The department or water management district shall authorize the addition of land to a permitted mitigation bank when it is appropriate to do so and the addition of the land results in an increase in the ecological value of the existing mitigation bank. Any such addition shall be accomplished through a modification to the permit which reflects the corresponding increase in the total number of mitigation credits assigned to the bank.
(4) MITIGATION CREDITS.--After evaluating the information submitted by the applicant for a mitigation bank permit and assessing the proposed mitigation bank pursuant to the criteria in this section, the department or water management district shall award a number of mitigation credits to a proposed mitigation bank or phase of such mitigation bank. An entity establishing and operating a mitigation bank may apply to modify the mitigation bank permit to seek the award of additional mitigation credits if the mitigation bank results in an additional increase in ecological value over the value contemplated at the time of the original permit issuance, or the most recent modification thereto involving the number of credits awarded. The number of credits awarded shall be based on the degree of improvement in ecological value expected to result from the establishment and operation of the mitigation bank as determined using a functional assessment methodology. In determining the degree of improvement in ecological value, each of the following factors, at a minimum, shall be evaluated:
(a) The extent to which target hydrologic regimes can be achieved and maintained.
(b) The extent to which management activities promote natural ecological conditions, such as natural fire patterns.
(c) The proximity of the mitigation bank to areas with regionally significant ecological resources or habitats, such as national or state parks, Outstanding National Resource Waters and associated watersheds, Outstanding Florida Waters and associated watersheds, and lands acquired through governmental or nonprofit land acquisition programs for environmental conservation; and the extent to which the mitigation bank establishes corridors for fish, wildlife, or listed species to those resources or habitats.
(d) The quality and quantity of wetland or upland restoration, enhancement, preservation, or creation.
(e) The ecological and hydrological relationship between wetlands and uplands in the mitigation bank.
(f) The extent to which the mitigation bank provides habitat for fish and wildlife, especially habitat for species listed as threatened, endangered, or of special concern, or provides habitats that are unique for that mitigation service area.
(g) The extent to which the lands that are to be preserved are already protected by existing state, local, or federal regulations or land use restrictions.
(h) The extent to which lands to be preserved would be adversely affected if they were not preserved.
(i) Any special designation or classification of the affected waters and lands.
(5) SCHEDULE FOR CREDIT RELEASE.--After awarding mitigation credits to a mitigation bank, the department or the water management district shall set forth a schedule for the release of those credits in the mitigation bank permit. A mitigation credit that has been released may be sold or used to offset adverse impacts from an activity regulated under this part.
(a) The department or the water management district shall allow a portion of the mitigation credits awarded to a mitigation bank to be released for sale or use prior to meeting all of the performance criteria specified in the mitigation bank permit. The department or the water management district shall allow release of all of a mitigation bank's awarded mitigation credits only after the bank meets the mitigation success criteria specified in the permit.
(b) The number of credits and schedule for release shall be determined by the department or water management district based upon the performance criteria for the mitigation bank and the success criteria for each mitigation activity. The release schedule for a specific mitigation bank or phase thereof shall be related to the actions required to implement the bank, such as site protection, site preparation, earthwork, removal of wastes, planting, removal or control of nuisance and exotic species, installation of structures, and annual monitoring and management requirements for success. In determining the specific release schedule for a bank, the department or water management district shall consider, at a minimum, the following factors:
1. Whether the mitigation consists solely of preservation or includes other types of mitigation.
2. The length of time anticipated to be required before a determination of success can be achieved.
3. The ecological value to be gained from each action required to implement the bank.
4. The financial expenditure required for each action to implement the bank.
(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, no credit shall be released for freshwater wetland creation until the success criteria included in the mitigation bank permit are met.
(d) The withdrawal of mitigation credits from a mitigation bank shall be accomplished as a minor modification of the mitigation bank permit. A processing fee shall not be required by the department or water management district for this minor modification.
(6) MITIGATION SERVICE AREA.--The department or water management district shall establish a mitigation service area for each mitigation bank permit. The department or water management district shall notify and consider comments received on the proposed mitigation service area from each local government within the proposed mitigation service area. Except as provided herein, mitigation credits may be withdrawn and used only to offset adverse impacts in the mitigation service area. The boundaries of the mitigation service area shall depend upon the geographic area where the mitigation bank could reasonably be expected to offset adverse impacts. Mitigation service areas may overlap, and mitigation service areas for two or more mitigation banks may be approved for a regional watershed.
(a) In determining the boundaries of the mitigation service area, the department or the water management district shall consider the characteristics, size, and location of the mitigation bank and, at a minimum, the extent to which the mitigation bank:
1. Contributes to a regional integrated ecological network;
2. Will significantly enhance the water quality or restoration of an offsite receiving water body that is designated as an Outstanding Florida Water, a Wild and Scenic River, an aquatic preserve, a water body designated in a plan approved pursuant to the Surface Water Improvement and Management Act, or a nationally designated estuarine preserve;
3. Will provide for the long-term viability of endangered or threatened species or species of special concern;
4. Is consistent with the objectives of a regional management plan adopted or endorsed by the department or water management districts; and
5. Can reasonably be expected to offset specific types of wetland impacts within a specific geographic area. A mitigation bank need not be able to offset all expected impacts within its service area.
(b) The department and water management districts shall use regional watersheds to guide the establishment of mitigation service areas. Drainage basins established pursuant to s. 373.414(8) may be used as regional watersheds when they are established based on the hydrological or ecological characteristics of the basin. A mitigation service area may extend beyond the regional watershed in which the bank is located into all or part of other regional watersheds when the mitigation bank has the ability to offset adverse impacts outside that regional watershed. Similarly, a mitigation service area may be smaller than the regional watershed in which the mitigation bank is located when adverse impacts throughout the regional watershed cannot reasonably be expected to be offset by the mitigation bank because of local ecological or hydrological conditions.
(c) Once a mitigation bank service area has been established by the department or a water management district for a mitigation bank, such service area shall be accepted by all water management districts, local governments, and the department.
(d) If the requirements in s. 373.414(1)(b) and (8) are met, the following projects or activities regulated under this part shall be eligible to use a mitigation bank, regardless of whether they are located within the mitigation service area:
1. Projects with adverse impacts partially located within the mitigation service area.
2. Linear projects, such as roadways, transmission lines, distribution lines, pipelines, or railways.
3. Projects with total adverse impacts of less than 1 acre in size.
(7) ACCOUNTING.--The department or the water management district shall provide for the accounting of the award, release, and use of mitigation credits from a mitigation bank.
(8) AUTHORITY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS.--Local governments may not require permits or otherwise impose regulations governing the operation of a mitigation bank. However, this section shall not be construed to limit the authority of a local government to require an applicant for a mitigation bank to obtain any authorization required by a local ordinance for the construction activities associated with a mitigation bank.
(9) PRIOR APPLICATIONS.--An application for a mitigation bank conceptual approval or mitigation bank permit which is pending with, and determined complete by, the department or a water management district on or before the effective date of this act, or a mitigation bank conceptual approval or mitigation bank permit issued on or before the effective date of this act, shall continue to be subject to the rules adopted pursuant to s. 373.4135 which were in effect on the effective date of this act, unless the applicant or permittee elects to be subject to the rules governing mitigation banks adopted after that date.
(10) MODIFICATION WITH RESPECT TO PRIOR APPLICATIONS.--Any application for a modification of a mitigation bank conceptual approval or mitigation bank permit which was pending with, and determined complete by, the department or water management district on or before the effective date of this act, shall continue to be subject to the rules adopted pursuant to s. 373.4135 in effect on the effective date of this act, unless the permittee elects to be subject to the rules governing mitigation banks adopted after that date. Any modification to a mitigation bank conceptual approval or mitigation bank permit issued on or before the effective date of this act, which is applied for within 20 years of the effective date of this act, and which does not involve the addition of new land that was not previously included in the mitigation bank conceptual approval or mitigation bank permit, shall be subject to the rules adopted pursuant to s. 373.4135 which were in effect before the effective date of this act, unless the permittee elects to be subject to the rules governing mitigation banks adopted after that date.
(11) RULES.--The department and water management district may adopt rules to implement the provisions of s. 373.4135 and this section, which shall include, but not be limited to, provisions:
(a) Requiring financial responsibility for the construction, operation, and long-term management of a mitigation bank;
(b) For the perpetual protection and management of mitigation banks; and
(c) Establishing a system and methodology for the valuation, assessment, and award of mitigation credits.
History.--s. 7, ch. 96-371; s. 3, ch. 2000-133; s. 9, ch. 2003-265.