The draft 2013 FDOT Mitigation Plan has been approved by the District’s Governing Board on February 26, 2013 and by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on April 10, 2013. In this year’s plan, four new FDOT road improvement projects are added to the 23 projects that are currently active. A total of 118.95 acres of wetland impact are planned to be offset by existing mitigation projects in the FDOT Mitigation Program. Two additional new road improvement projects are deferred since appropriate mitigation is not available either through a mitigation bank or a mitigation project in the FDOT Mitigation Program. In accordance with the 2012 FDOT Mitigation Plan and revisions to statutory requirements governing the FDOT Mitigation Program, 21 road improvement projects have or are proposed to have wetland impacts offset with the purchase of mitigation bank credits from a private mitigation bank. Mitigation bank credits are purchased directly by the FDOT at the time road improvement projects are permitted.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) historically conducted mitigation for wetland impacts associated with roadway construction on a project by project basis. The majority of these mitigation activities were associated with creation and enhancement of habitats adjacent to the roadway facilities. Existing and future commercial, industrial and residential developments along these roadways subject constructed mitigation areas to many limitations and risks in achieving the desired ecological benefits needed to compensate for wetland impacts. These developments also reduce mitigation opportunities as well as increase the cost of mitigation projects, primarily a result of the availability of property and the cost of acquisition.
In 1996, the State Legislature determined that mitigation would be more effectively achieved with regional, long range mitigation planning instead conducting mitigation on a project by project basis and created the FDOT Mitigation Program (see Section 373.4137, Florida Statutes). This program is administered by the state’s water management districts, which are responsible for annually developing a mitigation plan with input from various Federal and State regulatory and resource agencies, including representatives for public and private mitigation banks.
The FDOT annually provides the District an inventory of anticipated construction related wetland impacts and updated information for previously identified transportation projects. Advance information is also provided for larger projects scheduled beyond FDOT’s current work program for mitigation planning purposes. The inventory provides information such as the watershed location, acreage, habitat type and quality of expected wetland impacts associated with each project. The cumulative inventory of all the facilities from 1996–2020 currently includes 159 transportation projects. A total of 685.54 acres of wetland impact have been or are proposed to be offset by mitigation projects in the FDOT Mitigation Program.
Based on the impact information provided by the FDOT, mitigation options are matched to FDOT road improvement projects such that the State and Federal permitting requirements for offsetting wetland impacts are satisfied. Mitigation options are mitigation projects developed through the FDOT Mitigation Program or mitigation bank credits purchased from a private or public mitigation bank. The purchase of mitigation bank credit is considered when the purchase would offset the impact of the transportation project, provide equal benefits to the water resources as other mitigation options being considered, and provide the most cost-effective mitigation option. To date, 50.84 acres of wetland impact have been offset through the FDOT Mitigation Program with the purchase of mitigation bank credits from six private or public mitigation banks.
Mitigation projects established through the FDOT Mitigation Program are to focus on activities of the water management districts and the Department of Environmental Protection such as Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) projects, land acquisition and control of invasive and exotic plants to the extent these projects meet mitigation requirements for the FDOT road improvement projects. There are 37 mitigation projects that have been established through the FDOT Mitigation Program of which 15 are SWIM projects, 6 contain a land acquisition element and 14 contain an invasive and exotic plant control element. Two notable mitigation projects are Ft. DeSoto Park (SW 70) recognized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with a Coastal America Partnership Award and Circle B Bar Preserve (SW 66) recognized by the Audubon of Florida and USA Today for the wildlife use of the restored habitats.
General information for the program, roadway projects, wetland impact and designated mitigation projects can be accessed within the complete annual approved 2013 FDOT Mitigation Plan . Direct links to individual mitigation project information are also provided within the drainage basin categories.
If you have any questions, recommendations or request additional information concerning the program or any of the associated mitigation projects, please contact: