Wetlands project makes money for park district

The Great Miami Mitigation Bank allows businesses looking to build or expand in the Miami Valley the option to purchase conservation credits toward restoring the 364-acre area near Trotwood containing a wetland, forested wetland and prairie. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

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The Great Miami Mitigation Bank allows businesses looking to build or expand in the Miami Valley the option to purchase conservation credits toward restoring the 364-acre area near Trotwood containing a wetland, forested wetland and prairie. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

A Five Rivers MetroParks project to recreate wetlands on acreage that was once planned for a solid waste dump is generating solid income because of new development, the parks agency said Friday.

The Great Miami Mitigation Bank, a 360-acre farm site inside the city of Trotwood, was purchased by Five Rivers in 2008 from Waste Management Inc. for $1.2 million. The idea was to return the land in the 8400 block of Little Richmond Road to its natural state as a wildlife-rich wetland while assisting developers around the region by selling credits to them that would offset small wetlands areas destroyed by development.

A requirement of the federal Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, is that developers must recreate wetlands they disturb or destroy by rebuilding them elsewhere in the watershed at up to twice the original acreage. Wetlands serve as endangered species habitat and are nature’s kidneys, holding and purifying runoff and helping reduce flooding.

Mike Enright, conservation biologist with Five Rivers, said about 100 acres have been restored, partly as wetlands. In 2012 through June of this year, residential and commercial developers, working through a permit process with the U.S. Corps of Engineers, will pay or have committed to paying $560,000 to MetroParks. Farming provided $232,000 in revenue from 2009 to 2012. The wetland credits cover nine acres, so it’s expected that more revenue will flow as wetland credits are sold, Enright said.

Developers include Mark Fornes Realty, Liberty Land Co., American Retail Company or Watson’s, Fischer Development Corp., Romanelli and Hughes Building Co., and Enterprise Liquids Pipeline, LLC., for the ATEX Express Pipeline. Those projects are in Montgomery, Butler and Warren counties, Enright said.

The wetland bank project is an improvement on practices by developers rebuilding wetlands in small areas elsewhere because a larger wetland area has a better chance of thriving and will be managed by Five Rivers, Enright said. The bank is not open to the public but there will be an open house June 30 at the site from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. that begins at the main entrance at 8401 Little Richmond Road, Enright said.

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