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French grad student studies California biodiversity

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District
Published April 30, 2015
Learning about a commercial biodiversity mitigation site in Galt, California, an interagency team visits a 495-acre project operated by Westervelt Ecological Services. From left to right are Matt Gause, Westervelt senior ecologist; Sophie Menard, University of Versailles, France; Travis Hemmen, Westervelt market development specialist; Melissa France and Kaitlyn Pascus, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District regulatory specialists; and Ali Dunn, California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Learning about a commercial biodiversity mitigation site in Galt, California, an interagency team visits a 495-acre project operated by Westervelt Ecological Services. From left to right are Matt Gause, Westervelt senior ecologist; Sophie Menard, University of Versailles, France; Travis Hemmen, Westervelt market development specialist; Melissa France and Kaitlyn Pascus, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District regulatory specialists; and Ali Dunn, California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Sophie Menard, a doctoral student of economics at the University of Versailles, France, viewed a variety of biodiversity mitigation sites in Northern California, accompanied by members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District regulatory team.

Sophie Menard, a doctoral student of economics at the University of Versailles, France, viewed a variety of biodiversity mitigation sites in Northern California, accompanied by members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District regulatory team.

SACRAMENTO, California – When a doctoral student from the University of Versailles needed to understand how America balances urban development with natural preservation, she visited the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District.

That grad student, Sophie Menard, flew into Sacramento the final week of April and spent time with several members of the Sacramento District’s regulatory team, visiting a variety of mitigation bank sites in the region.

Mitigation banks are tracts of land set aside for their natural biodiversity. Developers can sometimes mitigate for negative impact on wetlands or other ecological features by purchasing credits in a mitigation bank.

The implementation of biodiversity mitigation banks in France is still a recent development, according to Menard.

“France has only one commercial mitigation bank dedicated to biodiversity at this time,” said Menard. It is located in Southern France.

During her visit, Menard’s emphasis was toward understanding the economic viability of both commercial and non-commercial mitigation sites. Commercial mitigation banks are established as a for-profit enterprise.

“It is very gratifying that our state’s reputation for work in ecological mitigation reaches around the world,” said Krystel Bell, a Sacramento District regulator and Menard’s mentor during the visit.