Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
FHWA Domestic Scan Tour of Successful Wetland Mitigation Programs
Southwest Region, April 28, 2005
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Corpus Christi Ecological Services Field Office (CCESFO) biologist Pat Clements, as a member of a team assembled by the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA), is continuing to participate in the tour of wetland mitigation projects in eight states and visit with State Highway Department staff for the purpose of assessing the success (or not) of State Highway wetlands mitigation programs. The interagency team (Wetlands Scan Team) is composed of representatives from FHWA, EPA, USACE, and USFWS. Pat is representing the USFWS on the team in lieu of the Service's National Transportation Liaison, Joe Burns, who was not able to participate in the Tour. Through a grant administered by North Carolina State University, FHWA is funding the travel expenses for the Team.

From March 29-31, 2005, the Wetlands Scan Team visited North Carolina mitigation banks and met with NC State Transportation personnel, and from April 5-7, 2005 the Team visited Alabama mitigation banks and met with AL State Transportation personnel. The approach to mitigation banking in these two states is radically different. In 2003, North Carolina formally established, with a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), a separate agency whose purpose is the design, implementation, monitoring, and tracking of mitigation projects for state transportation project needs. Although this agency, the Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP), currently focuses primarily on transportation project mitigation, as the program matures, EEP is expected to expand its mission to include mitigation projects needed for all NC State departments. The State of Alabama's MOA for a Wetlands Mitigation Bank was established in 1996, and essentially authorizes a single mitigation bank for the entire state with separate sites in each of the State's 6 major watersheds. All work at the sites including planning, construction and monitoring, is conducted by an AL Department of Transportation staff of 6-8 persons. Until recently, review team members informally accomplished monitoring and determination of success at the bank sites primarily with visual assessments of site success and verbal agreements. Concerns raised by private bank operators and agency staff, including USFWS, regarding tracking and defensibility of success determinations is resulting in changes in the way monitoring is being accomplished, i.e. more in line with what private mitigation banks are required to document.

April 26-28, 2005 the Wetlands Scan Team will be visiting the State of Nebraska.

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