JBA to build wetlands bank at Mattawoman Creek

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs

The Joint Base Andrews and 11th Wing commander Col. Andrew Purath took part in a ceremonial commemoration of the first wetlands umbrella mitigation banking instrument for the Department of Defense in Maryland along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District, Maryland Department of the Environment, GreenTrust Alliance and GreenVest LLC at The Courses at Andrews here Sept. 6, 2018.  

The entire project yields nearly 38 wetland credits and almost 1,600 stream credits to provide potential mitigation for planned construction efforts on JBA, such as regrading of the airfield or expansion. The first site to be restored under the UMBI is Mattawoman Creek in Pomfret, Md.

“Every time we make a change or an update to the base there is an impact on the community and the local environment,” Purath said. “I think we as an Air Force are getting better at recognizing it. As the commander here, this is a neat thing for me to be a part of, to see that we get to not only improve the base, but also understand our responsibilities in this area, especially being so close to the Chesapeake watershed.”

Projects potentially impacting wetlands or navigable waterways in Maryland must first receive a permit to start construction from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, or the Maryland Department of the Environment, depending on the size of the project. A permit is issued when it is anticipated the project benefits will outweigh the impacts and often includes special conditions that the applicant must follow to reduce harmful impacts to the environment. An applicant must ensure there is no net loss of wetlands resulting from the project; therefore, as part of the permit, the applicant must agree to protect, create, or restore the number of acres they are impacting from the project.

“From a business standpoint, for people who are having to update their properties, improve facilities and infrastructure, this is just the way to go,” said Lynn Buhl, Maryland Department of Environment assistant secretary. “You guys are real leaders and are setting an example. The fact that we struggled to create this, the wetlands mitigation banking instrument, we are blazing the trail for not just this facility, but for all the Department of Defense properties in the state of Maryland. That is a huge hurdle that has been leapt.”

More than 80 acres of land at the Mattawoman Creek mitigation site is now permanently protected via a conservation easement held by the GreenTrust Alliance. This area is classified by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as highly significant for biodiversity conservation to support critical species and habitats. At this site, more than 65 acres of wetlands will be restored, created, enhanced or preserved, which is estimated to capture approximately 75 tons of carbon per year.