A California company has proposed setting aside 266 acres in Eagle Point for conservation and restoration of wetlands, home to federally listed vernal pool fairy shrimp and other rare species.

Wildlands Inc., of Rocklin, Calif., has permit applications pending with the Oregon Department of State Lands and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to sell development credits for wetlands mitigation at the property in view of the historic Walter Wood House at Highway 62.

The state will accept public comments on the proposal until July 9 at www.statelandsonline.com.
Wildlands expects a decision on the proposal by the end of the year or beginning of 2009.

Federal law requires property owners who destroy wetlands through development to make up for it by protecting and/or restoring wetlands somewhere else. One way of fulfilling that obligation is to buy development credits from a wetlands mitigation bank. The land bank owner protects or restores the wetlands on the developerís behalf and usually turns a profit with the proceeds from selling the credits.
The majority of the Eagle Point acreage will continue to be used for grazing and will appear the same, said Jeff Mathews, Wildlands spokesman.

However, the amount of time cattle spend on a piece of property may be reduced to protect the fairy shrimp.

Wetlands restoration will involve creating some land depressions to retain moisture for sustenance of the vernal pools, Mathews said.

Wildlands owns 30,000 acres of wetlands mitigation banks in California, Oregon, Washington and Virginia.

All of the wetlands banks are protected by conservation easements, which cannot be developed.

- Paris Achen