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Manatee County implements a wetland mitigation program

Establishment of a "mitigation bank" of land aims at keeping forced wetland improvements within Manatee County.

A week after Manatee County commissioners voted 6-1 to reduce wetland protections, the environment was back in the discussion Aug. 22 as commissioners heard a plan to establish a county wetland mitigation program.

Commissioner Jason Bearden called it a “no brainer,” and the program, which establishes a mitigation bank of land within Manatee County, passed with unanimous approval. Commissioners say the program is intended to save money, support the Capital Improvement Plan and keep restored wetlands within Manatee County.

Longboat Key resident Rusty Chinnis called the program “damage control,” by the commissioners. Chinnis attended the Aug. 17 land use meeting, where members of the public packed the chambers attempting to stop a transmission to the state legislature that would cut additional wetland protections out of the Comprehensive Plan.

If approved in October, county wetland buffers that currently must be between 30 and 50 feet will only need to meet the state standard of 15 feet.