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Otter Creek

Otter Creek Wetland Mitigation Bank

48 acres restored, 46.15 mitigation credits

Wetland Banker: Land and Water Resources, Inc. (LAWR)

Long Term Manager and Land Owner: St. Charles Park District

Jim Breen
8 North Ave.
St. Charles, Illinois 60174
(630) 584-1055

USACOE Permit 199300675

LAWR teamed up with Applied Ecological Services, Christopher B. Burke Engineering, and the St. Charles Park District to develop, permit, build, and operate a 56 acre site containing wetland mitigation bank and upland prairie in St. Charles, Kane County, Illinois. LAWR was responsible for all aspects of the bank from conception, development, financing, permitting, construction, operation, and sales. Applied Ecological Services planted, maintained and monitored the site, and Christopher B. Burke Engineering provided design and permitting services.

This project was the first private mitigation bank in the country to be constructed. The permitting of this bank was an important part of the development of the Chicago District ACOE Interagency Coordination Agreement on Mitigation banks, which became the basis for the development of the Federal Guidance on Mitigation Banks.

This project was initially opposed by various environmental groups because they felt that it would promote development and because of a general lack of success in many mitigation areas. Since the construction, many of these environmental groups, including the local chapter of the Sierra Club conducts tours of the site as an example of excellence in wetland restoration and creation.

The site, prior to permitting, was a 56 acre farm field primarily within the floodplain of Otter Creek, a tributary to the Fox River. The field was extensively tiled and several small farmed wetland pockets existed on the site. A 36” gas main bisected the site. The Park District wanted the site as a natural area, but did not have the means to purchase the property. LAWR purchased the property and donated it to the Park District. As part of the permit and construction process, LAWR provided ADA accessible path and boardwalk system and a parking area for access to the site. Management activities at the site included aggressive herbiciding of invasive species, mowing and burning.

The St. Charles Park District uses the site as a natural area and a nature education center. Land and Water Resources was able to create and sell 46.15 acres of wetland mitigation credits to offset 32.44 acres of wetland impact.

In all, over 140 plant species have been identified at the site since construction in 1994. Of these, over 69% are native species. Within wet prairie and emergent zones, native wetland and prairie species accounted for over 95% of the relative cover. This bank received final sign off from the regulatory agencies and now is exclusively managed by the Park District.