The Florida Department of Transportation, District 7 (FDOT), in anticipation of mangrove swamp impacts from planned future projects, is proposing to improve and create mangrove swamp habitat at 4th Street (St) North (N) and 9th St N in Saint Petersburg, Florida. This project is being undertaken due to a lack of estuarine forested (mangrove swamp) credits available from mitigation banks within the same watershed (Tampa Bay) as the anticipated impacts. Large portions of the proposed mitigation sites currently are dominated by the exotic invasive species Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius) and Australian pine (Casuarina equisetifolia). Other areas consist of mowed right-of-way (ROW) and areas damaged by off-road vehicle use. Invasive species will be removed from the sites and existing grades lowered to allow tidal exchange and establishment of mangrove forest via natural recruitment. Additionally, native transitional species will be planted along the edges of each project assessment area. The UMAM lift generated by the project will be used to offset impacts to mangrove habitats by future FDOT projects in the Tampa Bay region.
Typically, applicant-responsible mitigation sites have to include “time lag” and “risk” factors for calculating the mitigation that the sites will be able to provide. Including these factors in the calculations can result in a significant decrease to the amount of mitigation a site may offer. RK&K successfully permitted an innovative approach to address this potential loss. Since the mitigation sites were to be permitted prior to the impacts, the mitigation credits to be offered by the sites will not be calculated until credits are required. This will minimize the potential “time lag” and “risk” factors and maximize mitigation credits offered by the project sites.