Thursday, August 23, 2012

Nation's Largest "Stream Bank" to Stem the Effects of Houston Growth

In a unique collaboration among land trusts, landowners and mitigation bankers, Restoration Systems announces the nation's largest stream mitigation bank. The newly permitted Katy Prairie Stream Mitigation Bank (KPSMB) will serve the Houston metro area and is located on the 6,500 acre Warren Ranch. Mitigation banks balance the need to restore and protect sensitive land and water resources while sustainably managing impacts associated with regional development.

Over the next decade, more than 20 miles of impaired and channelized waterways on the Warren Ranch will be restored to sinuous prairie creeks. This restoration will ease the severe effects of agriculture on the streams over the past century.  The restored waterways will also serve as a model of "credit offsets" to accommodate new growth along waterways in the region.

The Warren Ranch is the largest remaining cattle ranch in Harris County. It is jointly owned by a leading Texas land trust – the Katy Prairie Conservancy – and the Warren Family. Collaboration with Restoration Systems to develop the stream mitigation bank began in 2008.

"The prairie is vanishing as Houston grows west, and our organization is focused on protecting and restoring as much of this national treasure as possible," said Mary Anne Piacentini, Executive Director of the Conservancy.  "This stream restoration program will help KPC restore and enhance habitat for wildlife, and achieve a reasonable balance between wildlife and human needs."

An ecological time capsule, the Warren Ranch is integral to the Conservancy's overall goal of restoring and protecting 50,000 acres of tallgrass prairie, wetlands, and streams. Year round, the prairie serves more than 300 species of birds; 110 species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians; 400 species of grasses and wildflowers; and thousands of insects and aquatic invertebrates.

Due to the strategic location of the site within Houston's upper watershed, the project is a well-recognized component of the continued efforts to manage stormwater issues in Harris County. The tract is a "sponge" for the area, which is expected to attract more than 2.5 million new residents and encounter additional flood concerns over the next 30 years.

"This project is a template for no-net-loss stream banking, which is new to Houston," said George Howard, Restoration Systems' Co-Founder and President. "We are proud to see five years of hard work culminate with the first release of mitigation credits from the KPSMB."

Construction on Phase One of the project is to begin in September. It will yield over 17,000 linear feet of restored stream channels and will take approximately five months to complete. A permanent conservation easement will be placed on the project area and future impacts, including grazing, will not be allowed.  More than 42,000 native trees of 17 species will be planted and invasive plants and tree control is already underway.

As the streams are successfully restored, state and federal regulatory agencies will issue the mitigation bank over 300,000 stream mitigation credits. Restoration Systems has priced the credits between $215 to $500 apiece depending on the volume of the purchase. 

More information about the KPSMB can be found at

Restoration Systems is a leading environmental restoration and mitigation banking company with more than 40 mitigation sites and banks in nine states These projects total more than 25,000 acres of wetlands and 60 miles of waterways. Every bank Restoration Systems oversees is permitted by state and federal agencies with the release of credits tied to annual monitoring and specific success criteria. 
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PRNewswire, August 9, 2012

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