Assessing the Socioeconomic Impacts of Wetland Mitigation in the Chicago Region

Journal or Book Title: Journal of the American Planning Association

Volume/Issue: 73/3

Page Number(s): 263 - 282

Year Published: 2007


Under current federal and local wetland protection regulations, damage to wetlands from urban development must be mitigated. A variety of mitigation methods exist, several of which create or restore wetlands elsewhere to compensate for losses at the site of the original wetland impact. Critics assert that such mitigation programs relocate wetlands from urban to rural areas, causing disparities. This article analyzes 1,058 permitted wetland mitigation transactions in the Chicago region between 1993 and 2004. Our analysis shows that some wetlands are relocated from urban to rural areas, but we also find that wetlands are moved between suburban areas. Most relocated wetlands move from areas with high population densities to areas with much lower densities, though one mitigation method did not have this effect. Our analysis demonstrates that the mitigation method chosen affects whether there are significant socioeconomic differences between the area where the original wetland impact occurs and that in which the newly created or renovated wetland is located. These findings suggest that planners must take relocation and redistributive effects into account in setting up and administering mitigation programs, particularly as responsibility for wetland protection shifts from federal to local regulators.

DOI: 10.1080/01944360708977977

Type of Publication: Journal Article