Aquatic Compensatory Mitigation (US)

In order to comply with the Clean Water Act's principle of no net loss, compensatory mitigation allows for applicatns to offset the draining, filling, or dredging of a wetland (or stream). Offsets may be created by the applicants (a process known as permittee-responsible mitigation) or offsets can be paid for via third-party mitigation banks or ILF programs. The offsets are created through the enhancement, creation, and preservation of wetlands and streams. However, indirect offsets, such as payments to fund wetland research, are not allowed. These offsets must be created within the same 'service area', or watershed, as the impacted wetland, and while acreage of wetland or miles of stream are often used to calculate credits, functional assessments are also utilized, often in tandem with a measurement of acreage or mileage. Current regulations give preference to larger, landscape-scale offsets created before the impact (in contrast to on-site restoration efforts), and a prefence hierachy for compensatory mitigation mechanisms is laid out: First preference is given to mitigation banks, second preference to ILF programs, and lastly for permittee-responsible mitigation efforts. The new regulations also provide equivalent standards for all categories of supply credits.  The most common purchsers of these credits are government transportation agencies, residential and commercial developers, the Department of Defense, extractive industries, and utilities.

In order to comply with the Clean Water Act's principle of no net loss, compensatory mitigation allows for applicatns to offset the draining, filling, or dredging of a wetland (or stream). Offsets may be created by the applicants (a process known as permittee-responsible mitigation) or offsets can be paid for via third-party mitigation banks or ILF programs. The offsets are created through the enhancement, creation, and preservation of wetlands and streams. However, indirect offsets, such as payments to fund wetland research, are not allowed. These offsets must be created within the same 'service area', or watershed, as the impacted wetland, and while acreage of wetland or miles of stream are often used to calculate credits, functional assessments are also utilized, often in tandem with a measurement of acreage or mileage. Current regulations give preference to larger, landscape-scale offsets created before the impact (in contrast to on-site restoration efforts), and a prefence hierachy for compensatory mitigation mechanisms is laid out: First preference is given to mitigation banks, second preference to ILF programs, and lastly for permittee-responsible mitigation efforts. The new regulations also provide equivalent standards for all categories of supply credits.  The most common purchsers of these credits are government transportation agencies, residential and commercial developers, the Department of Defense, extractive industries, and utilities.

Program Statistics

Date Established: 1983 Status: Active Program Type: Combination (One-Off Offset, Compensation, Banking)
About the program:
Annual size of program (area): 24178 (acre) Year of Data: 2008
Cumulative size of program (area): 240000 (acre) Years of Data: 1999 - 2009
Annual payments of program (US$): 1,100,000,000 - 1,800,000,00 Year of Data: 2008
Cumulative payments of program (US$): 11,000,000,000 - 18,000,000 Years of Data: 1999 - 2009
Notes on program size or payments:

Figures apply to wetland compensation (from permittee-responsible, ILFs, and mitigation banking). Price information for wetland and stream compensatory mitigation is based on our dataset of 140 price points or ranges, including 33 prices provided anonymously by mitigation bankers. All price data are from 2005-2009. The cumulative size figure is a rough estimate based on the 2008 area of compensatory mitigation and the approximate duration of the program's implementation (24,178 acres x approximately 10 years that the program has been actively running). For more information on the methods used to estimate US wetland and stream compensatory mitigation and conservation banking, see the State of Biodiversity Markets methods appendix available at: http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/documents/acrobat/sbdmr_methods.pdf.

Species or habitat types (if applicable): wetland, tidal wetland, palustrine forested wetland, bottomland hardwoods, riparian willow scrub, riparian buffer, eelgrass, emergent wetland, mixed palustrine wetland, palustrine scrub shrub wetland, emergent high marsh wetland, aquatic bed, Non-tidal fresh marsh, Cypress/tupelo, Tidal/intermediate marsh, Wet coastal prairie, Freshwater forested, Freshwater herbaceous, Low marsh, High marsh, Riverine intermittent, stream, riverine aquatic bed, shaded riverine acquatic
Notes: Data source(s): State of Biodiversity Markets Report 2010, US ACE, US EPA, ELI EPA compensatory mitigation website: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/wetlandsmitigation_index.cfm; US ACE / US EPA regulations: http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/pdf/wetlands_mitigation_final_rule_4_10_08.pdf (regulations start on p.78)
Bank regulator information: US Army Corps of Engineers Last Updated: December 22, 2010