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Aquatic Resources Mitigation Framework

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 April 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 are available to the public:
 
Oregon Rapid Wetland Assessment Protocol (ORWAP) – version 3.1 was released in November 2016 and can be used to assess functions and values of wetlands across the state.
 
Stream Function Assessment Method (SFAM) – version 1.0 can be used to assess the functions and values of wadable, non-tidal streams across the state. SFAM consists of the Workbook used to calculate function and value scores for given site, the User Manual that provides step-by-step instructions and guidance on completing an SFAM Assessment, and a Scientific Rationale document that describes the development of SFAM and provides supporting information from the scientific literature.
 
Aquatic Mitigation Topic Page & Map Viewers – The topic page hosts the ORWAP Map Viewer and SFAM Map Viewer, used to complete the office portion of an ORWAP or SFAM assessment, respectively; and a Mitigation Planning Map Viewer, used for strategically planning mitigation projects.

Recorded Webinar: How The Oregon Aquatic Resource Mitigation Framework Will Affect the DSL Permitting Process
 
This webinar provides an overview of how the new Aquatic Resource Mitigation Framework was developed and timeline for implementation. Sections of the webinar review the upcoming changes – including what functional assessments can be used in Oregon, how many functional assessments will be needed in permit applications, determining mitigation site eligibility and obligation for wetlands and non-wetlands, and effects on the mitigation banking program. The recording includes the question and answer session that followed DSL’s presentation.
 

Outreach

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
framework.


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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​


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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.



Training

Rulemaking 

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 page.
 
 



Resources


Contacts
Dana Hicks
Mitigation Policy Specialist
Oregon Department of State Lands
Phone: 503-986-5229

 
Tom Taylor
Mitigation Program Manager
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Phone: 503-808-4386

 
Tracie Nadeau
Regional Mitigation Lead
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Phone: 503-326-3685


 



 

 
 

 
 
 
 

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