SECTION 1. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs shall establish a cranberry wetland mitigation banking program for the purposes of off-site mitigation of public or private projects subject to the wetlands protection act, General Laws chapter 131 Section 40, requiring variances or orders of conditions.
For the purposes of this section, the following words shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
“Credit”, a unit of trade representing the increase in the ecological value of the site, as measured by acreage, functions or some other assessment method.
“Pilot Cranberry Wetlands Bank” or “bank”, the development of a single wetlands bank through a public/private partnership in two or more watersheds for the assessing the effectiveness of wetlands banking as a regulatory tool to mitigate environmental impacts associated with construction activities.
Credits from the pilot cranberry wetland mitigation bank for off-site mitigation shall only be available for project mitigation after all regulatory requirements for avoiding, minimizing and mitigating impacts on site to the greatest extent practicable have been met. Off-site mitigation sites shall be located on cranberry bogs in active production in the two chosen watersheds. These sites from previously filled or drained bogs shall be the priority for off-site mitigation. Local Conservation Commissions located in the chosen watersheds under the authority of General Law chapter 131 section 40 and in agreement with project proponents may send projects requiring mitigation to the receiving bank.
Within 30 days after the effective date of this act, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs shall issue a request for proposals for the selection of a contractor with experience in cranberry agriculture, knowledge of grower base and potential cranberry acreage available for mitigation and knowledge of the wetlands protection act to assist in the design, approval, creation, ownership and management and long term ecological monitoring of a cranberry wetlands restoration bank in the two chosen watersheds.
Within 90 days of issuing the request for proposals, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs shall select a banking contractor. This request for proposals and selection of a contractor shall not be subject to chapter 30B of the General Laws.
Bank financing and sale of bank credits shall be subject to an agreement developed between the executive office of energy and environmental affairs and the selected contractor, subject to the review and approval of the inspector general.
The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs shall file a joint report assessing the process of establishing the pilot cranberry wetlands mitigation bank, describing the transactions and projects affected by the bank, and the effectiveness of the bank in protecting wetlands while enabling projects requiring mitigation to progress with the joint committee on environment, natural resources and agriculture within 1 year of the creation of the pilot cranberry wetlands bank and for each year thereafter, for 5 years. The report shall include information on the amount, acreage, location and types of wetlands restored and credits issued or traded, and list of all projects utilizing bank credits at the time the report is prepared. This provision shall sunset unless extended by the legislature 5 years from date of passage.
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