Improving Oregon’s Approach to Compensatory Mitigation
A new approach to compensating for wetland and stream losses will be collaboratively implemented by the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL), US Army Corps of Engineers-Portland District (Corps) and US Environmental Protection Agency-Region 10 (EPA) in February 2019.
The project goal is to update the statewide mitigation program to cover all aquatic resources (wetlands and streams) using a watershed-based approach, and function-based assessment and accounting methods.
What is compensatory mitigation?
Under Oregon’s Removal-Fill Law
and Section 404
of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), impacts to aquatic resources require a permit from DSL and the Corps. Mitigation requires a series of steps, called a mitigation sequence, to eliminate or reduce the negative effects of a proposed project. The sequence includes avoidance, minimization and compensation for unavoidable impacts.
There are two basic compensatory mitigation options: purchasing credits from a mitigation bank or in-lieu fee site, or permittee-responsible mitigation, usually conducted on the project site. Both the Corps website
and DSL website
have detailed information on mitigation.
Why are we changing our mitigation policy?
In 2008, the federal government adopted a new rule – the Final Compensatory Mitigation Rule
– which promotes a watershed- and function-based approach to compensatory mitigation. Studies show that the current practice of requiring acreage-based mitigation is leading to an overall loss of functions and values of aquatic resources across the nation. The new mitigation framework aims to bring Oregon’s mitigation program into alignment with the federal standard and to provide more successful, sustainable benefits for the environment.
What tools will support the new mitigation program?
In the proposed mitigation framework, science-based tools will inform mitigation planning and decision-making. These tools will help improve consistency and transparency in the mitigation process. Several function assessment tools and online data viewers will be available to the public:
Coming in June 2018:
- Stream Function Assessment Method (SFAM) – version 1.0 is currently undergoing pilot testing; SFAM will be used to assess functions and values of streams across the state.
- Aquatic Mitigation Topic Page & Map Viewers – online data viewers that will be used for conducting ORWAP and SFAM assessments, as well as for strategically planning mitigation projects.
June 21, 2017 Mitigation Bankers
On June 21, 2017, Oregon’s existing mitigation bank sponsors and their agents reviewed the proposed mitigation framework and how it would apply to mitigation banking. The agencies highlighted how questions, issues, and concerns raised at an earlier banker outreach meeting were considered in revisions made to the
On October 5, 2017, the proposed mitigation framework was presented at the Oregon Tribal Environmental Forum. The Forum was attended by environmental program staff from tribes and consortia in Oregon.
Oregon’s Aquatic Resources Mitigation Framework
November 9, 2017 Stakeholders
On November 9, 2017, organizations and consulting firms with an interest in aquatic resource regulation, and conservation and protection of Oregon’s water resources provided input on the proposed mitigation framework.
The Department of State Lands will initiate the rulemaking process in January 2018, at which point information can be found on DSL’s Proposed Rulemaking