Coastal Restoration as Compensatory Mitigation for Impacts to Aquatic Resources, Massachusetts In-Lieu Fee Program

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Aisling O’Shea, Elisabeth Cianciola

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Despite a national policy of no net loss of wetlands, the U.S. Department of the Interior estimates that the U.S. loses more than 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands annually, and the rate of loss is on the rise. Because coastal wetlands are stressed by development of coastal communities and offshore resources as well as sea level rise, the need to mitigate for impacts to coastal wetlands is growing. The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is the sponsor for a state-wide In-Lieu Fee (ILF) Program approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). DFG receives payments from Corps permittees and uses them to fund restoration, enhancement and preservation projects that provide compensatory mitigation for impacts to aquatic resources. The ILF process involves a sale of mitigation credits to the permittee, fulfillment of the mitigation obligations by DFG, and release of credits by the Corps when the projects achieve performance standards. This presentation focuses on the coastal restoration aspect of DFG’s ILF program, with an emphasis on estuarine and marine subtidal resources. Several ILF coastal projects are underway, including an eelgrass restoration and an artificial reef project. However, developing restoration projects that provide timely, cost effective, in-kind mitigation and meet federal requirements has proven challenging. DFG is developing partnerships with other programs and initiatives to identify and prioritize projects that meet ILF selection criteria, including aquatic resource functional lift, cost-effectiveness and technical feasibility. These partnerships help the program take on new challenges related to climate change and sea level rise.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program