Session 15: Banking in Urban and Suburban Settings

a) Brownfields and Mitigation Banks

Friday, May 12
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Room 311/312

The mitigation banking industry continues to develop and economic development has become even more dependent on accessibility to mitigation banks. The costs and risks to establish a bank and the long lag time to reap the benefits of the investment require creative approaches to bank development. Concurrently, contaminated brownfield sites are an underutilized opportunity which, in certain circumstances, may provide lower cost land as well as potential funding for remediation and restoration activities. Given the right location based on market demand and ecological conditions conducive to restoration or enhancement plus contamination issues that can be readily remediated; these properties could be considered viable opportunities for mitigation bank development, especially in areas where other options are limited. State and federal funding programs exist for rehabilitation at brownfield sites which may be utilized for these properties. Brownfield remediation may include the removal of contaminated sediments or solid waste. These land alteration activities provide the opportunity to re-establish functional wetlands and streams. However, agency reviewers for wetlands mitigation banks typically do not have a good understanding of brownfields issues or the ability to restore contaminated properties to natural habitat. Wetlands restoration needs may not be compatible with clean up practices. Lift for establishment of credits may not consider the benefits of the remediation effort. Pros and cons of this approach to banking will be discussed. A case study of a mitigation bank feasibility assessment on a brownfield site will be presented.

Beverly F. Birkitt

Business Owner/Senior Environmental Consultant
Birkitt Environmental Services, Inc.

Beverly Birkitt, M.S., President and Principal Ecologist for Birkitt Environmental Services, Inc., has over 35 years of experience in the environmental field including 10 years with state and local agencies and 10 years with a major international consulting firm. She founded Birkitt Environmental Services, Inc. (Birkitt) in 1996. Ms. Birkitt obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of South Florida and her Master of Science degree from Florida State University. She has served as faculty for the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Environmental Permitting Short Course since 1989 with a focus on wetlands mitigation and mitigation banking. She is currently serving on the Board for the Florida Association of Mitigation Bankers. Ms. Birkitt has been involved with mitigation banking in Florida for over 20 years. She designed and permitted a 7,000 acre mitigation bank in North Florida among others and is a managing member of the Tampa Bay Mitigation Bank, a 161 acre mitigation bank in southwest Florida. Her experience includes the design and permitting of over 15,000 acres of wetlands restoration for mitigation throughout the state and numerous feasibility studies for prospective mitigation banks. She has been involved in permitting a mangrove restoration mitigation bank in Old Tampa Bay and evaluating a unique opportunity for mitigation banking on over 50,000 acres of conservation lands for a private/public partnership in southeast Florida.

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Frank L. Hearne

Stakeholder
Mechanic Nuccio Hearne & Wester, P.A.

Frank L. Hearne is a shareholder in the law firm of Mechanik Nuccio Hearne & Wester, P.A., in Tampa, Florida where he practices exclusively environmental law. In addition to his legal credentials, Mr. Hearne holds an undergraduate degree in engineering focused on water resources and a master’s degree in zoology focused on aquatic and estuarine ecology. His professional scientific experience includes management of a number of large scale wetlands-related Environmental Impact Statements, biological statistics analyses and studies of wetlands ecology and surface water supply. Mr. Hearne’s engineering and scientific training and his practice history provides a valuable perspective on the possibilities for developing Brownfields sites into habitat preservation and mitigation banks. Over more than 30 years he has advised clients in matters involving contaminated sites including cleanup programs in a number of states, federal RCRA and CERCLA sites, and Brownfields redevelopment on many sites. His wetlands experience has included state, federal and local permitting, rulemaking, enforcement defense and mitigation banking. His has worked on active and former landfill sites, power plants, military bases, golf courses, industrial facilities, petroleum production and refining facilities, mines, dry cleaning and underground tank sites, automobile dealerships, rental car sites, wood treating sites, various recycling facilities, waste and wastewater treatment plants and many others types of sites. During his career, he has been named repeatedly to several independent lists of outstanding environmental lawyers in the state and nation including, The Best Lawyers in America and Florida “Super Lawyers.” Mr. Hearne is a member of the Florida Bar Environmental and Land Use Section, the Florida Bar Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section and the Florida Brownfields Association.

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a) Brownfields and Mitigation Banks

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