Critical Wetland Restoration and Mitigation Banking in Dense, Urban Area


The Village of Sussex is located in Waukesha County, just 19 miles from the City of Milwaukee. The dense area has approximately 11,000 residents spread across 8 sq. miles. The Wisconsin DNR’s Wisconsin Wetland Conservation Trust (WWCT) was challenged trying to find restorable wetlands in this urban area as, being so dense and offering a high quality of living, Village land sells at a premium price.

Specifically, the WWCT needed site identification support and a site plan followed by sensitive and strategic wetland mitigation banking – the practice of restoring, creating and/or enhancing wetlands in order to make up for unavoidable impacts to wetlands at another location. Wetland mitigation banking requires careful consideration of invasive species, hydrology and community interests.


SEH has a long history of partnering with the Village and WWCT, as well as unique experience in the field of wetland mitigation banking. Understanding the WWCT needed to find a site in the local watershed, the SEH team identified a 120-acre site on Hickory Hills Farms’ land with potential and volunteered it to the WWCT. Once accepted, SEH ushered the site through the mitigation banking process.

The overall wetland restoration effort has become a win-win for the Wisconsin DNR and Village.

Fully restored, the site will improve water quality to the Village’s Spring Creek, improve aquatic and wildlife habitat, provide stormwater attenuation, and support erosion control and flood control. The site will also serve as a natural area for Village residents to enjoy hiking, bird watching and other passive recreation.

Construction was completed in May 2021. This effort has become the largest “in-lieu-fee” project in the State of Wisconsin (e.g., completed using Wisconsin DNR funds).

Project Name
Hickory Hills Mitigation Bank

Village of Sussex, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wisconsin Wetland Conservation Trust


  • Natural resources scientists
  • Water resources engineering
  • Survey


  • Wetland restoration:
    • Sedge meadow
    • Hardwood swamp
    • Wet-mesic prairie
  • Erosion control
  • Flood control
  • Stormwater attenuation
  • Improved aquatic and wildlife habitat
  • Improved water quality in Spring Creek