Mitigation, What you can do to Help
"Mitigation is the process in which any action
is taken to improve, expand, or rectify a wetland to compensate for damage
done during a project," said Chris Citorik. Citorik has recently
finished a project on mitigation and society's reactions to it, for Project
World. Mitigation is a method that was proposed in 1981 to the state of
New Hampshire and is used throughout the country.
Wetlands are very beneficial to the ecosystem
that we call home, whether the wetland is acting as a home to many animals,
some even endangered, or as a watershed during the flood season. Wetlands
are homes to many animals that are necessary to the ecosystem. A wetland
provides an environment that people are able to learn about many species
and how they live. Many times a wetland acts as a sponge that absorbs the
water from rain. To protect our homes we must preserve wetlands.
Mitigation is a method that hypothetically
allows people to expand, improve, or create a new wetland. It is primarily
used to replace wetlands destroyed during construction and development.
The concept of mitigation exists to try to protect wetlands, but so far
this hasn't been the case. "Mitigation has a high failure rate. Because
there isn't enough information, scientists don't know how to duplicate
ecosystems such as a wetland," Citorik said. If one detail isn't taken
care of in a wetland (like the inclusion of certain species of plants
or animals) then the wetland will fail.
A problem with the mitigation process in New
Hampshire is that the person who is filling in a wetland isn't required
to recreate a wetland of the same type or class. Each wetland is classified
according to its vegetation and the hydrology of the area. Other states
have set laws so that mitigation projects must create wetlands of the same
class as or higher than the one that was destroyed.
Another problem is that the public isn't aware
of mitigation. In his research, Citorik found that in Raymond, New Hampshire,
Wal-Mart filled in a wetland in order to build a distribution center.
The state of New Hampshire required that they try to create a wetland nearby.
The new wetland doesn't have natural water flowing into it. Without a natural
water source, the wetland won't be able to sustain itself during the non-rain
season. In just a few short years, this project has regressed from
wetland to grassy field with a puddle in the middle of it.
Another mitigation project in Durham, New Hampshire
is part of a UNH study. UNH students monitor and adjust this new
wetland constantly, and this project has been more successful than most.
"Mitigation is not working. It's not
a good idea right now. We don't know enough right now and the public isn't
aware about the problem. But there is an activist group against mitigation
now. Who knows what's going to happen," Citorik said.
Mitigation is a baby that has been born into
a world of pollution and wetland destruction. None of us were perfect when
we were born. We all grow and learn, maybe mitigation can too. In order
to have any success, mitigation projects require money and constant monitoring.
There are many wetlands in New Hampshire right
now, but a few years ago there were even more wetlands. Without the help
of the public, wetlands in New Hampshire might become a thing of the past.
Be aware of what construction projects are doing to the wetlands in your
town or state. Ask questions. Most of all, lobby your elected
officials for stricter, more detailed rules governing wetland mitigation