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Port of Tacoma receives approval for environmental mitigation bank

July 21, 2020

The Upper Clear Creek Mitigation Bank is the first mitigation bank approved at the Port of Tacoma and only the second joint wetland and fish conservation bank in the State of Washington. The bank received final approval June 24 from the state’s Department of Ecology, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

Completed in 2016, the Upper Clear Creek Mitigation Site combines a 28.64-acre (11.59-hectare) mitigation bank with another 12.59-acre (five-hectare) port-owned mitigation project. The result is more than 41 acres (17 hectares) of contiguous restored habitat in the Clear Creek floodplain with the option for future expansion. Clear Creek is the Puyallup River’s last freshwater tributary before Puget Sound’s Commencement Bay. The waterbody is vital habitat for migrating salmonids.

The certified mitigation bank will allow the port to invest in future infrastructure projects more efficiently and responsibly. The port built the mitigation bank to generate or “bank” wetland and fish habitat credits in advance of development projects. The wetland and fish habitat credits may serve to offset unavoidable impacts to wetlands or fish habitat from projects that meet environmental and permitting review. The credits may also be used as compensation for future port development projects, to support projects by developmental partners, or to sell on the open market.

The Port of Tacoma, a Northwest Seaport Alliance partner, has invested more than $300 million in environmental programs, including remediating legacy contamination and restoring critical salmon habitat in the lower Puyallup River watershed.