The Corps of Engineers and other responsible regulatory authorities should take actions to improve the effectiveness of compliance monitoring before and after project construction.
Compensatory mitigation sites should receive long-term stewardship, i.e., a time frame expected for other publicly valued assets, such as parks.
The Corps of Engineers and other responsible regulatory authorities should 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 approached 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.
Conclusion 4: Support for regulatory decision making is inadequate.
In addition to using a watershed framework, the federal regulatory authorities can work to improve functional wetland assessment, permit compliance monitoring, staff training, research, and collaboration with state agencies. The committee recommends that the Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, and other responsible regulatory authorities take several specific actions.
To assist permit writers and others in making compensatory mitigation decisions, a reference manual should be developed to help design projects that will be most likely to achieve permit requirements. The manual should be organized around the themes developed in this report. The Corps of Engineers should develop such a manual for each region, based in part on the careful enumeration of wetland functions in the 404(b)(1) guidelines and in part on local and national expertise regarding the difficulty of restoring different wetland types, hydrological conditions, and functions in alternative restoration or creation contexts.
The Corps of Engineers and other responsible authorities should commit funds to allow staff participation in professional activities and in technical training programs that include the opportunity to share experiences across districts.