Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
FHWA Domestic Scan Tour of Successful Wetland Mitigation Programs
Southwest Region, March 11, 2005
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The Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) has assembled an interagency team (Wetlands Scan Team) with representatives from FHWA, EPA, USACE, and USFWS to visit wetland mitigation projects in eight states and to visit with State Highway Department staff for the purpose of assessing the success (or not) of State Highway wetlands mitigation programs. Most of the Team members are from Washington DC headquarters office. The Service's National Transportation Liaison, Joe Burns, was not able to participate in the Tour, in his place, Pat Clements, staff biologist from the Corpus Christi Ecological Services Field Office, is representing the USFWS. Through a grant administered by North Carolina State University, FHWA is funding the travel expenses for the Team. The first state be visited by the Wetland Scan Team was Texas.

From March 9-11, 2005, the Wetlands Scan Team conducted site visits to three mitigation banks established by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. These were the Anderson Tract [Tyler District, southeast of Mineola along the Neches River in Smith County], Blue Elbow Swamp [Beaumont District, just east of Orange in Orange County], and Coastal Bottomlands [Houston District, just southwest of Brazoria in Brazoria County]. Issues identified by TxDOT representatives regarding the existing mitigation banks relate to (1) their ability to draw on bank credits when the mitigation bank is a designated preservation project, (2) changes in mitigation requirements at the federal level due to the SWANCC ruling, and (3) justifying the initial costs for the bank acquisition relative to the long time period (possibly 20 years or more) over which TxDOT anticipates withdrawing credits from the banks.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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