Land development in Florida is bound by regulations protecting wetlands and the important functions they provide. In 1998 a group of forward thinking engineers, environmental scientists, and land owners came together to establish a wetland mitigation bank that would successfully foster the creation, restoration, and enhancement of wetlands. They took former farmland and swamps and applied wetland delineations, wetland functional analysis, mitigation design, hydrologic analysis and design, permitting, and construction support for the establishment of a regional wetlands bank. The resultant 2,778 acre Panther Island Mitigation Bank has provided developers and government agencies with an option to mitigate impacts in freshwater wetland systems.
Based on a system of credits, developers can buy wetland credits to offset permittable wetland impacts on their lands. This eliminates the burden of bringing their property into approved condition, saves time, and may even improve usefulness of the lands.
This system has proved to be so successful that most wetland credits have been sold and approval has been received to expand the bank by 1,700 acre. The design of the bank has resulted in a timely increase in forage opportunity for wood stork using the adjacent Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary as a major colony site.