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Natural Environment

SUBJECT: Information: Compensatory Wetland Mitigation

FROM: James Shrouds, Director, Office of Natural Environment

TO: Attention of FHWA Field Environmental Staff

DATE: November 8, 2001

The purpose of this e-mail is to transmit a copy of the new Regulatory Guidance Letter from the Corps of Engineers on Compensatory Wetland Mitigation and to provide Headquarters review and analysis of its key provisions.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) recently issued a new Regulatory Guidance Letter (RGL) on the Establishment and Maintenance of Compensatory Mitigation Projects under Section 404 and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. The RGL was issued partly in response to the National Academy of Sciences report, Compensating for Wetlands Losses Under the Clean Water Act, released in June 2001. This report strongly criticized the Corps level of oversight on compensatory mitigation, particularly long-term protection, management, and monitoring. Likely as a result, some Corps field offices have been requiring additional commitments on long-term site management and monitoring. The RGL provides some guidance and insight about what State Departments of Transportation (DOT) should expect as mitigation conditions, and how the FHWA can help implement reasonable measures. Attached are copies of the RGL and our analysis of its key points which may affect wetland mitigation activities on highway projects requiring permits under the Section 404 program.