Cover image for Compensating for wetland losses under the Clean Water Act
Compensating for wetland losses under the Clean Water Act
National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Mitigating Wetland Losses.
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : National Academy Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxiii, 322 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


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KF5624 .C66 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Recognizing the importance of wetland protection, the Bush administration in 1988 endorsed the goal of oeno net loss of wetlands. Specifically, it directed that filling of wetlands should be avoided, and minimized when it cannot be avoided. When filling is permitted, compensatory mitigation must be undertaken; that is, wetlands must be restored, created, enhanced, and, in exceptional cases, preserved, to replace the permitted loss of wetland area and function, such as water quality improvement within the watershed.

After more than a dozen years, the national commitment to oeno net loss of wetlands has been evaluated. This new book explores the adequacy of science and technology for replacing wetland function and the effectiveness of the federal program of compensatory mitigation in accomplishing the nation (TM)s goal of clean water. It examines the regulatory framework for permitting wetland filling and requiring mitigation, compares the mitigation institutions that are in use, and addresses the problems that agencies face in ensuring sustainability of mitigated wetlands over the long term.

Gleaning lessons from the mixed results of mitigation efforts to date, the book offers 10 practical guidelines for establishing and monitoring mitigated wetlands. It also recommends that federal, state, and local agencies undertake specific institutional reforms. This book will be important to anyone seeking a comprehensive understanding of the oeno net loss issue: policy makers, regulators, environmental scientists, educators, and wetland advocates.

Table of Contents

Executive Summaryp. 1
1 Introductionp. 11
Important Termsp. 13
No Net Loss and the Section 404 Programp. 16
The Committee's Taskp. 20
2 Outcomes of Wetland Restoration and Creationp. 22
Introductionp. 22
Five Wetland Functionsp. 27
Factors That Contribute to the Performance of Mitigation Sitesp. 35
Recommendationsp. 45
3 Watershed Settingp. 46
Watershed Organization and Landscape Functionp. 46
Wetland Function and Position in the Watershedp. 47
Watershed-Scale Patterns of Wetland Lossesp. 57
A Watershed Template for Wetland Restoration and Conservationp. 58
Conclusionsp. 59
Recommendationsp. 59
4 Wetland Permitting: History and Overviewp. 60
Evolution of Compensatory Mitigation Requirements in the CWA Section 404 Programp. 60
General Mitigation Requirementsp. 61
General Corps Mitigation Requirementsp. 63
CWA Section 404 Mitigation Requirementsp. 64
Mitigation Bankingp. 67
In-Lieu Feesp. 69
The Clean Water Act and the Goal of No Net Lossp. 70
Section 404 Permit Processp. 73
Inspection and Enforcementp. 80
5 Compensatory Mitigation Mechanisms Under Section 404p. 82
Location of the Compensatory Mitigation Actionp. 83
Legal Responsibility for the Mitigationp. 86
Relationship of Mitigation Actions to Permitted Activities (Timing)p. 88
The MBRT Processp. 91
Stewardship Requirementsp. 91
A Taxonomyp. 92
Recommendationp. 93
6 Mitigation Compliancep. 94
Mitigation Planningp. 95
Mitigation Design Standardsp. 97
Project Implementationp. 101
Compliance with Permit Conditionsp. 103
Mitigation Ratiosp. 108
Monitoring of Mitigation Projectsp. 110
Monitoring Durationp. 112
The Compliance Recordp. 113
Conclusionsp. 121
Recommendationsp. 122
7 Technical Approaches Toward Achieving No Net Lossp. 123
Operational Guidelines for Creating or Restoring Wetlands That Are Ecologically Self-Sustainingp. 123
Wetland Functional Assessmentp. 128
The Floristic Approachp. 129
Habitat Evaluation Procedures and the Hydrogeomorphic Approachp. 131
HGM as a Functional Assessment Procedurep. 132
Recommendationsp. 136
8 Institutional Reforms for Enhancing Compensatory Mitigationp. 138
Introductionp. 138
A Watershed-Based Approach to Compensatory Mitigationp. 140
Improvements in Permittee-Responsible Mitigationp. 149
Expectations for the Regulatory Agencyp. 154
Third-Party Mitigationp. 160
Support for Increased State Responsibilitiesp. 165
Recommendationsp. 166
Referencesp. 169
A Survey of Studies: Comparison of Mitigation and Natural Wetlandsp. 189
B Case Studiesp. 199
Everglades National Parkp. 199
Coyote Creek Mitigation Sitep. 201
North Carolina Wetland Restoration Programp. 208
C Analyses of Soil, Plant, and Animal Communities for Mitigation Sites Compared With Reference Sitesp. 211
D California Department of Fish and Game, South Coast Region; Guidelines for Wetland Mitigationp. 217
E Examples of Performance Standards for Wetland Creation and Restoration in Section 404 Permits and an Approach to Developing Performance Standardsp. 219
F Memorandum for Commanders, Major Subordinate Commands, and District Commands, April 8, 1999p. 234
G Army Corps of Engineers Standard Operating Procedures for the Regulatory Programp. 239
H Selected Attributes of 40 Common Wetland Functional Assessment Proceduresp. 285
I Function, Factors, and Values Considered in Section 404 Permit Reviewsp. 292
J Biographical Sketches of Committee Membersp. 294
Glossaryp. 299
Indexp. 305