Purpose of mitigation
Oregon’s wetlands, streams and other waters provide important ecological and societal benefits, called functions and values. Some examples include habitat for fish and wildlife, water quality improvement, and retention of water to reduce flood damage.
State law requires the Department of State Lands (DSL) to regulate “waters of the state” to protect, conserve and provide for the best use of these aquatic resources. DSL uses a permit application process to document how a proposed project has reduced adverse effects to aquatic resources and how any unavoidable impacts have been offset by actions to replace the area, functions and values of the loss.
Mitigation is a sequenced approach that considers avoiding any impacts to aquatic resources, minimizing the magnitude of the impacts, repairing or restoring impacted areas after the project is complete, and finally compensating for any unavoidable losses.
The goal of compensatory mitigation is to direct mitigation to the appropriate place(s) and ecosystem processes that will result in successful and meaningful mitigation and to offset the impacts of the proposed removal-fill project. A mitigation plan developed by the applicant describes the goals, objectives, performance standards and monitoring that will be conducted at a mitigation site.
Compensatory mitigation options include:
Purchasing credits from a mitigation bank or In-Lieu-Fee project, if available. Banks and ILFs are larger-scale mitigation projects approved under a detailed agreement with DSL to sell credits within a certain area. Once an applicant purchases a credit, the mitigation obligation is satisfied and the obligation transfers to the bank or ILF sponsor.
Permittee-responsible mitigation conducted on the project site or elsewhere within the watershed. The mitigation obligation remains with the permit holder and a financial security or performance bond is generally required to ensure compliance. DSL will release the security after the project is deemed successful.
Payment-in-lieu mitigation when no bank or ILF credits are available and when the applicant cannot identify a suitable mitigation project, DSL may accept payment-in-lieu of mitigation. The Corps does not recognize this option so it is applicable only in those cases where the state requires mitigation for an impact and the Corps does not. Once an applicant purchases a credit the mitigation obligation transfers to DSL.
Prior to issuing a permit, DSL will require that proof of mitigation credit purchase, financial security instruments, and other forms be submitted. Monitoring of mitigation projects is required to demonstrate that impacts have been successfully replaced at the compensatory mitigation site, and that required site protection and long-term management plans are in place. Each permit will specify the standards that monitoring reports need to address.