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COMPENSATING FOR WETLAND LOSSES UNDER THE CLEAN WATER ACT
matrix of protected, restored, and created wetlands in the watershed that contribute to the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of the waters of each watershed.
Wetland management programs should seek to achieve three specific outcomes by ensuring that the following conditions are met:
Individual compensatory mitigation sites should be designed and constructed to maximize the likelihood that they will make an ongoing ecological contribution to the watershed, and this contribution is specified in advance.
Compensatory mitigation (i.e., wetlands created or restored to compensate for wetland damage) should be in place concurrent with, and preferably before, a permitted activity.
To ensure the replacement of lost wetlands functions, there should be effective legal and financial assurances for long-term site sustainability of all compensatory wetland projects.
The committee recommends that the regulatory agencies consider each permitting decision over broader geographic and longer time periods (i.e., by modifying the boundaries of permit decision-making in time and space).
The committee encourages states, with the participation of appropriate federal agencies, to prepare technical plans or to initiate interagency consensus processes for setting wetland protection, acquisition, restoration, enhancement, and creation project priorities on an ecoregional (watershed) basis.
The committee recommends that the Corps and other responsible regulatory authorities establish and enforce clear compliance requirements for permittee-responsible compensation to assure that (1) projects are initiated no later than concurrent with permitted activity, (2) projects are implemented and constructed according to established design criteria and use an adaptive management approach specified in the permit, (3) the performance standards are specified in the permit and attained before permit compliance is achieved, and (4) the permittee provides a stewardship organization with an easement on, or title to, the compensatory wetland site and a cash contribution appropriate for the long-term monitoring, management, and maintenance of the site. The committee's conclusions reached in Chapter 6 are relevant to the implementation of the recommendation.
The committee recommends that the Corps and other responsible regulatory authorities use a functional assessment protocol that recognizes the watershed perspective, described in Chapters 3 and 7, to establish permittee compensation requirements.