Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method
As previously highlighted, the HPS property contains approximately 4,331 acres of wetlands (2,147 acres in Bradford County and 2,184 acres in Union County) and 132 acres of surface waters across the 10,562-acre property. However, only a portion of these wetlands and surface waters will be impacted by the proposed mining operation, leaving approximately 3,000acres of wetlands undisturbed. These wetlands and surface waters were reviewed and assessed by a team of environmental professionals and agency staff over a period of more than a year, resulting in a comprehensive report that shows that the type and quality of these wetlands varies drastically across the site.
The agencies responsible for wetland protection in the state of Florida have developed a uniform methodology—referred to as the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM)—for assessing wetland impacts and mitigation for projects such as the HPS mine. UMAM is used by regulatory agencies across the state to evaluate the amount of mitigation needed to offset adverse impacts to wetlands and surface waters. UMAM provides a standardized procedure for assessing the ecological functions provided by wetlands, the amount that those functions are reduced by a proposed impact, and the amount of mitigation necessary to offset that loss. UMAM calculates these things using a two-part form that evaluates an ecological community’s current condition, hydrologic connection, uniqueness, location, fish and wildlife utilization, time lag, and mitigation risk.
Part I of UMAM describes the assessment area and includes information such as the wetland or surface water type, the functions and values that it provides to fish and wildlife, observed and anticipated wildlife species that may utilize the community described and the uniqueness of the community in the regional landscape. Wetlands are divided up into different assessment areas based on land use or habitat type.
Part II of UMAM measures the amount or level of functions that the assessment area provides as described in Part I and the amount or level of functions lost or gained by the proposed impacts or mitigation. These functions are divided into three criteria: Location and Landscape Support, Water Environment, and Community Structure. Location and Landscape Support evaluates the functions provided by a wetland to fish and wildlife by virtue of its position and relationship with the surrounding environment. Water Environment is a measure of the quantity and quality of water in a wetland. Community Structure is an assessment of the vegetation in the community.
UMAM scores have been calculated for the wetlands and surface waters on the HPS property. UMAM has also been applied to the same landforms as they will function post reclamation and mitigation based on modeling. These calculations show HPS will exceed state and federal regulatory requirements as wetlands and surface waters will function at a higher level, resulting in an overall gain in value, after mining.