Old Florida & Upper Coastal Mitigation Bank

Project Spotlight: Returning Native Wildlife and Wetland Hydrology to the Gulf Coast

Our restoration process included the introduction of a controlled burning regime to establish a healthy ecosystem lifecycle.


Returning Native Wildlife and Wetland Hydrology to the Gulf Coast

Following decades of unprecedented growth in Florida in the early 1900s, critical wetland habitats were drained for agricultural purposes, including cattle grazing and logging. This drastically altered the land’s hydrology, and many thousands of acres remained in a degraded state for decades.

EIP’s first investment in Florida was the November 2013 purchase of the 150-acre Upper Coastal Mitigation Bank in Citrus County, an area invaded by non-native species and negatively impacted by prolonged fire suppression.

In June 2015, we won final approval to create the Old Florida Mitigation Bank. At 1,094 acres, it’s the largest wetland mitigation bank in the Southwest Florida Water Management District to date. Our team combined forces with local contractors to remove non-native pine plantations and convert pasture lands back into native longleaf pine trees, Cypress, Palmetto, and other native species.

Today, Old Florida Mitigation Bank is rich with wildlife species including the wood stork, gopher tortoise, and scrub jay; Upper Coastal provides critical habitat connectivity for the threatened Florida black bear population. Some of our restoration sites are designated as “recipient sites,” where we receive and protect wildlife brought to us from other impacted habitats.

As we approach the end of our five-year monitoring phase, we continue to ensure that we’re reducing invasive species and following our prescribed fire regime.

After restoring the wetland and reinstating plants and seeds, we can see the robustness and the vitality of the pine flatwoods ecosystem come back to life. We have seen a tremendous response from native species, including state and federally threatened species that have repopulated the area.

Troy Anderson, Assistant Director of Operations at EIP

Expanding cities and communities in the area will also benefit from our efforts. The Tampa region continues to see increasing development as businesses relocate to the area and housing needs grow.

We’ve built Old Florida Mitigation Bank in such a way that its proximity to development means it’s good for offsetting these projects.

Joe Williams, Assistant Director of Markets at EIP

Our environmental efforts in this region are not only conserving critical ecosystems, but also supporting development required as population increases.

Old Florida & Upper Coastal

EIP restored and perpetually protects both forested and herbaceous wetlands at Old Florida Mitigation Bank.

Old Florida & Upper Coastal

Brought back to life, these high-quality wetlands attract a wide range of species including these sandhill cranes.

Old Florida & Upper Coastal

Mitigation banks often include a piece of the old, such as these longleaf pines surrounding EIP's Dave Urban.

Old Florida & Upper Coastal

Pine lilies thrive in wet pine woods that are subject to frequent fires.

Old Florida & Upper Coastal

A healthy mixed wetland forest includes diverse tree species and high tree density.

GS Greensource Environmental

Our Partners

Greensource Environmental has a long history of collaborating with EIP since the beginning. Across our projects in the Old Florida & Upper Coastal region, Greensource conducted a thorough evaluation of historical land use, before-impact conditions (before wetlands were impacted by cattle ranching), as well as ongoing impacts to the land. The team delivered results that translated into an effective restoration plan — one that only comes with a deep understanding of the intricate interconnectedness of ecological function. As our “Ecological Sherlock Holmes,” the firm takes time to investigate existing conditions, helping us find clues to identify and improve specific limiting factors to maximize uplift.