Mitigation bank conserves wetlands

The Red River Valley (RRV) of North Dakota is home to roughly half of the state’s population and is responsible for a large portion of the development impacting wetlands in Grand Forks, Fargo and other communities. These unavoidable impacts occur throughout a wide range of industries including transportation, energy, agriculture, housing development and flood protection infrastructure. 

In February 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorized construction of the Grafton Mitigation Bank (GMB) in Walsh County. The GMB will be the first project delivered under the recently approved Ducks Unlimited North Dakota Umbrella Mitigation Banking Instrument. The GMB will serve as a third-party mitigation site to offset unavoidable wetland impacts in the surrounding region of the RRV. 

The GMB was developed in cooperation with the Grafton Flood Risk Reduction Project, private landowners and Ducks Unlimited. The $45 million flood project removed Grafton from the 100-year flood plain, which has significant insurance implications for residents and the flood prone RRV. DU’s mitigation design lowered the cost of construction for the flood project, compensating private landowners for acres prone to flooding and restoring nearly 90 acres of high-quality North Dakota wetlands and grasslands. Construction of the mitigation bank will occur simultaneously with the flood project.

Cooperative projects like these are a great example of how DU provides ecosystem solutions to diverse groups of stakeholders. By marketing wetland credits to developers, Ducks Unlimited can fund additional conservation work in DU’s highest priority areas like the Prairie Pothole Region. Upon certification, the GMB will provide nearly $2 million to help DU further wetland conservation goals. Although not considered a typical Ducks Unlimited conservation project, wetland mitigation projects like the GMB provide a wide range of ecosystem services such as flood attenuation, water purification, ground water recharge and improved wildlife habitat.