The first federally-authorized Native American commercial wetland and habitat mitigation bank has been established in Whatcom County.
The Army Corps of Engineers announced a deal had been reached July 6 between the corps, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Lummi Nation to finalize the mitigation plan.
The mitigation area includes about 1,945 acres on the Lummi Indian Reservation, the Nooksack River watershed and other coastal watersheds in Whatcom County.
Wetland and habitat restoration and preservation will focus on aquatic ecosystems to prepare them in advance for potential adverse impacts of future development.
Lummi officials intend to develop the mitigation bank project in four phases, the first involving 842 acres within the Nooksack River estuary. Plans include planting trees, including conifers and willows, that will enhance wetlands. Officials would also like to stem the spread of invasive plant species within the bank area.
“The Lummi Nation has worked with our federal and state partners for over a decade to develop our mitigation bank, which we intend to use to effectively and efficiently mitigate for unavoidable impacts associated with critical housing, municipal and commercial development—primarily on, but also off-reservation,” said Lummi Nation Chairman Cliff Cultee, in a press release.