Buddy Study: Dr. Riggsbee in Science again

Stories is bursting with pride at the continuing accomplishments of Adam Riggsbee.

Adam worked at RS for a couple of years after getting his PhD at Carolina where his subject of study was dam removal. During that time Adam and his academic collaborator Todd BenDor had the bright idea (along with your’s truly) of surveying mitigation providers in 2009 following publication of the new Federal Mitigation Rule.

What we discovered was that mitigation banking “post-rule” is still a spooky business proposition. As detailed in Adam’s journal article below, and further reported this week in Science, 75% of participants believe the mitigation Rule did not lessen the financial risk of commercial compensatory mitigation.

Moreover, more than half reported that fundamental aspects of the regulation were essentially being ignored, such as the clear-cut preference for banked mitigation over Do-It-Yourself or Fee Program mitigation.

While disappointed with the results, I was not surprised. We had just returned from this year’s 2011 National Mitigation and Conservation Banking Conference in Baltimore. As in 2009, much gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair was evident among the participants over Rule compliance issues. If anything the angst was more intense than when the study was performed.

As a “Silver Back” in the mitigation business, however, I was less worried and more comfortably numb. Mitigation banking is simply not for the faint of heart or impatient. It is a long-term proposition likely to yield its reward only over great spans of time (under hypoxic conditions and at great pressure).

To use a trite but nonetheless apt phrase, commercial mitigation is not a revolution — but an evolution. Regulatory thickets can be pruned here and there and encouraged to grow healthy, but bush-hoggers need not apply as mitigation bankers

Which brings me back to Adam Riggsbee. After his stint at RS, Adam and his loyal side-kick (the westerly named) Matt Jessee moseyed on down to Austin, Texas and opened their own swamp and creek shop, Riverbank Ecosystems.

I was a bit concerned for the young fellers.

How could someone as steeped in the perils of commercial mitigation as Adam Riggsbee possibly put his young family and best friend on the firing line in the Lone Star state? It has worked for us thus far at RS — but we got lucky — and nearly had our clocks cleaned at several points. What if these guys were cut down by the real world challenges of swamp swamping for profit?

Not a chance. Adam has approached the challenge of professional mitigation provision just right. He is cultivating a winning mix of hard science and good business as a corporate strategy at Riverbank Ecosystems.

As far as I can tell, there is no one else in the business who is publishing at a high level on mitigation while simultaneously negotiating land options on valuable Central Texas ranches. Adam is the best of both worlds in mitigation: A publishing businessman.

As Dr. Riggsbee joked this morning, it is now “official.” It takes longer to produce revenue from mitigation than it does to publish on the subject in a top journal.

Welcome to the rodeo, kid.

“Science” Editor’s Choice “A survey of entrepreneurial risk in stream and compensatory mitigation markets”

A survey of entrepreneurial risk in stream and compensatory mitigation markets