Lake Station Mitigation Bank
DRG provided invasive species management and control for the 230-acre Lake Station Mitigation Bank, bringing the area back into compliance with state and federal regulations.
Lake Erie Land Company (LEL) first contracted with DRG in 2017 to develop an invasive species assessment of the 230-acre Lake Station Mitigation Bank in Lake County, Indiana. Regulatory agencies had contacted LEL regarding an apparent dominance of invasive vegetation across the property and the need for remedial action in order to bring the mitigation bank in compliance with state and federal regulations governing mitigation banks in Indiana. The Lake Station Bank, established in the 1990s and the largest mitigation bank in Indiana, still held credits to sell and needed to be in compliance to continue to operate. For the invasive species assessment, DRG used a drone to capture high resolution aerial photography, GIS remote sensing, and field data collection to create a highly accurate map of invasive species. This map became the basis for a long-term maintenance and monitoring plan designed to bring the mitigation bank into compliance as quickly as possible.
DRG provided agency coordination to get approval of the new maintenance and monitoring plan, and remedial work began in early 2018. Treatment started with large-scale mowing and broadcast spraying to attain immediate and effective removal of large stands of Phragmites australis (common reed) and Typha spp. (cattails). Areas with lower densities of invasive species were treated with more targeted herbicide applications. Following a full growing season of treatments, DRG provided monitoring data collection and reporting to keep the regulatory agencies updated on the progress of site remediation.
Invasive Plant Control Leads To Site Health & Stability
Since 2018, DRG has continued annual maintenance and monitoring, reducing the invasive species coverage across the site from approximately 80% to less than 15%. This improvement has created opportunities for more specific and specialized remedial efforts including a levee repair to increase wetland hydrology and a prescribed burn across 40 acres of the site in spring of 2020, followed by native seeding across the burned unit of ground.
In summer of 2020, DRG conducted a third site visit with the regulatory agencies, who expressed satisfaction with the efforts to-date. Through 2021 and beyond, DRG plans to gradually shift maintenance and management efforts from heavy chemical control to more systemic control using prescribed fire and spot mowing, along with reintroduction of native species through additional seeding across the site. The long-term goal for the Lake Station Mitigation Bank is to support the development of a stable native vegetative community that can resist pressure from invasive species with minimal human intervention. DRG will continue to maintain and monitor the mitigation bank until all credits are sold and all requirements of the Lake Station Mitigation Banking Instrument are satisfied.