& Stream Credits
The Wyoming North Platte Bank Site, surrounding six miles of the Sweetwater River within the Pathfinder Dumbell Ranch, consists of 816 acres of floodplain and riparian corridor. Wetland credits are generated by restoring the hydrologic connectivity to the floodplain through the construction of riffles, thus rehydrating wetlands in the riparian zone. Stream credits are generated by grading, revegetating, and adding large wood to
the toes of eroding banks.
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The primary and secondary Geographic Service Area (GSA) for credit usage approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers includes the North Platte River HUC6 basin in Wyoming. Credits from the mitigation bank site provide environmental offsets required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WYDEQ).
In addition to wetland and stream credit generation, restoration within the bank site provides: (1) improved wildlife and aquatic habitat extent and quality; (2) re-connectivity of the Sweetwater River to its floodplain by returning the channel characteristics to pre-settlement conditions; (3) increased water quality including sediment, nutrient and toxicant reduction; and (4) perpetual protection of the site through conservation easement and long-term stewardship endowment.
Bank Site History
The six-mile section of the Sweetwater River within the bank site parallels the historic trails associated with the westward movement across the nation: Oregon Trail, California Trail, Mormon Trail and Pony Express Trail. Between 1841 and 1866, over 350,000 settlers passed through this very reach of the most famous wagon route across America. Prior to the 1840s, the riverbanks below Devil's Gate were the wintering homes of the indigenous tribes of Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho, whose names for the Sweetwater River are Bahvoondoy Ohgway (Clear River) and
Hiinooxuuniicie (Crossing River), respectively.
Historically, the Sweetwater River in this reach was a matrix of beaver dams and riverbanks lined with willow and plains cottonwood. With the removal of beaver from the river and cottonwoods from along the valley bottom, the river took on a new shape. A flood in April 1941 ultimately washed away any remaining beaver dam structures and entrenched (deepened) the river by three feet, which is the condition it remains in today. Restoring and preserving this bank site not only enhances the environmental values of the Sweetwater River corridor, but it protects the important history of the area.