The Coffin Property Mitigation Site is an over-ten-acre Wetland Creation Project located in Worcester County, MD. It was established by a local energy company to mitigate wetland impacts associated with the construction of the 26-mile, 138 kV electric transmission line from Salisbury, MD to Wallops Island, VA.
McCormick Taylor was responsible for design, agency coordination and permitting, designated specialist services, and five-year post wetland monitoring services. We sat down with Otto Schlicht and Adam Tatone to learn more.
Tell us a little bit about what the project is and who benefits from it.
McCormick Taylor was involved with the project from the beginning to the end. We designed the proposed system and established the design plan, performed necessary regulatory agency coordination/permitting efforts, provided designated specialist services throughout construction to ensure the proper construction of the system and compliance with all applicable environmental regulations, and provided post-wetland monitoring services to meet regulatory requirements for site acceptance.
The unique Designated Specialist role proved to be an asset to the project in evaluating the composition of the wetland soil media, providing substitutions and approving seed mixes, and ensuring the proper installation and maintenance of erosion and sediment controls.
This role was necessary due to the sensitive nature of the project and the various environmental components involved. The site is currently within the first of five years of the post-wetland monitoring phase when data is collected from the site and analyzed based on hydrology, soil conditions, and vegetation.
Following any necessary corrective actions to achieve conditions supportive of a successful wetland system and the five-year monitoring period, the regulatory agencies will determine the overall success of the site and total acreage of wetland mitigation established.
Did you come across any challenges or concerns while working on this project?
The construction of wetland mitigation sites is unique in nature compared to traditional construction projects as you are trying to achieve/maintain a specific level of hydrology to support the system, which often means site conditions could be rather saturated during construction.
While traditional construction projects are looking to create positive drainage from the site and dry conditions for construction, wetland mitigation sites are often retaining a specific amount of water, resulting in less than suitable conditions for construction. This proved challenging throughout construction not only from a timing perspective but also while ensuring compliance with environmental regulations.
Although the completed project provides an enhanced environmental habitat, it does not alleviate the necessity to maintain compliance with all environmental conditions and regulations associated with construction and particularly the prevention of sediment pollution. This proved challenging while working in saturated conditions. However, the implementation of the Designated Specialist and a Team approach working with the contractor, the local energy company, and the regulatory agencies allowed for the project to overcome these challenges and the completion of construction.
Are there any social, economic, or sustainable development aspects of the project? What has the feedback been like from the community?
Wetlands are essential for local and global ecosystems. They support many plant and animal species and provide multiple functions. The Coffin Mitigation site was designed to require little to no maintenance following acceptance by the regulatory agencies. The local energy company will be responsible for the proposed mitigation site until the site is deemed successful by the regulatory agencies. They will retain ownership of the conservation easement or convey the easement to a responsible third party who will maintain the necessary covenant and deed restrictions of the easement in perpetuity.