Mitigation Futures Conservancy (MFC) has been established to preserve the long-term value of mitigation areas throughout the state of Texas. MFC was proposed and developed by professional ecologists to support permittee-responsible mitigation (PRM) actions that are often undersized for a traditional land trust. The directors at MFC believe there these small, contained mitigation areas provide valuable urban water quality and wildlife benefits within the local and watershed level, essentially creating small ecological oasis for many naturalized urban wildlife. Additionally, the re-establishment of wetlands and tributaries within highly developed urban conditions provide the opportunities for living laboratories showcasing society’s need for natural areas for many quality of life aspects. These mitigation areas, whether in compliance for Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) or habitat conservation areas in relation to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), state wildlife laws, or local ordinances provide many important benefits, which deserve perpetual protection.
Mitigation Futures Conservancy, is a Texas non-profit corporation formed to accept Conservation Easements (CE) on these smaller sites throughout the State of Texas to fulfill a need that has developed and will continue to develop through stronger environmental regulations concerning impacts to water features and wildlife habitats. The directors and volunteers of MFC are committed to assume the responsibility of long-term monitoring of these CEs and working with the grantors and appropriate regulatory agencies to ensure that these areas are protected and provide benefits to urban areas and semi-rural areas as continued development occurs in Texas.
Texas has generated continued economic growth throughout the last decade, which fuels continued expansion of many urban areas throughout the state. As more people migrate into the State, more land is converted from agricultural lands into urban and suburban developments. Much of this acreage includes wildlife habitat and water features that will be lost once development occurs. Regulations such as Section 404 of the CWA provide a mechanism to compensate for the loss of water features through a permitting program that requires compensatory mitigation for each loss of waters of the United States. Mitigation banking, is an effective mechanism for a permittee to acquire the necessary compensatory mitigation in some parts of the State. However, in many parts, PRM is still the more dominant practice. Mitigation Futures Conservancy will work with permittee to accept CE on the PRM areas and also work with the permittee’s mitigation specialist to assist in ensuring a fully functioning area that provides or exceeds the functions and values that were present previous to development.
Mitigation Futures Conservancy would like to promote and educate toward the value of PRM areas by providing educational materials for adjacent landowners and working with the permittees to provide educational signage and flexibility in the CE to promote the living laboratory concept in many of these areas. In the past, many PRM areas were inadvertently impacted by adjacent landowners because the concept of a mitigation area and its overall benefits was not conveyed. Education and opportunities to understand why PRM areas are integral to overall watershed benefits, would be a key mission of PRM in addition to the long-term monitoring of the CE areas. Common misconceptions of adjacent landowners in urban areas is that mitigation areas attract and promote many terrifying creatures, such as snakes and are ripe for mosquito infestation. Also, many areas are vandalized because they are viewed as nuisance areas by many. It is our goal at MFC to promote a better understanding of the need and value for these small acreages in the midst of many developments.