Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Water Resources Development Act of 1986
Water Resources Development Act of 1986 [33 U.S.C. 2201 et seq.; P.L. 99-662, November 17,
1986; 100 Stat. 4082. (Most of the provisions in this Act are codified at 33 U.S.C. 2201 et seq.)
Additional chapter citations include 42 U.S.C. 1962; 23 U.S.C. 104; 16 U.S.C. 688aa; 48 U.S.C.
1662; 26 U.S.C. 9505; 43 U.S.C. 390b; and 16 U.S.C. 3501.]
This Act authorizes for construction and/or study 270 Corps of Engineers projects (port
development, inland navigation, flood control, streambank erosion, and shoreline erosion, as well
as feasibility and reconnaissance studies). It also deauthorizes 290 projects and provides for
deauthorization of other projects if funds have not been obligated for construction, including
planning and design, within 5 years of this statute's enactment.
The total cost of the Act is $16.5 billion. The cost of authorized fish and wildlife
mitigation/enhancement features is in excess of $500 million, including acquisition of
approximately 585,000 acres of habitat, primarily wetlands.
This Act contains provisions covering all features of water resources development and
planning, including cost-sharing by Federal and non-Federal interests, as well as environmental
assessment and mitigation requirements. Provisions of national interest to the Service include:
- The Corps is directed, in consultation with the Service and with the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, to study the feasibility of using its capabilities for fish and
wildlife conservation, such as habitat creation and improvement, for indigenous species
- Mitigation features must be implemented concurrently with construction of other project
features [section 906].
- For previously authorized and constructed projects, mitigation features costing up to $7.5
million or 10 percent of the cost of each project may be implemented without further specific
reports to Congress, and up to $30 million may be budgeted for that purpose each year
- Fish and wildlife mitigation construction as well as operation and maintenance costs will be
cost shared at the same rate as the project purpose causing the loss [section 906(c)].
- All projects submitted by the Corps in the future must include either specific mitigation
plans or determinations that such projects will have negligible impacts on fish and wildlife
- Bottomland hardwoods must be mitigated in-kind, to the extent possible [section
- The cost of fish and wildlife enhancement features will be 100 percent Federal for species
of national significance, such as migratory birds, endangered species, and anadromous fish, and
for activities on National Wildlife Refuges. The first costs as well as operation and
maintenance costs for enhancement features for other species will be 75 percent Federal
- An Environmental Protection and Mitigation Fund of $35 million is created to facilitate
implementation of authorized mitigation features in advance of project construction, when
necessary [section 908].
- Most river basin studies are reauthorized for appropriations to complete comprehensive
plans of development (Principles and Standards "Level B" studies) [section 909].
- An Office of Environmental Policy is established under the Corps of Engineers, with
responsibilities to include guidance on and monitoring of Corps coordination with other
Federal agencies [section 924].
- Specific authority is provided for acquisition of project lands for recreational purposes
- The Secretary of Agriculture is directed to study the feasibility of making available for
public use impoundments funded by the Soil Conservation Service under P.L. 83-566 [section
- The Corps was authorized to review the need for modifications of existing projects for the
purpose of providing measures to improve environmental quality, and was directed to report
to Congress within 2 years on the results of demonstration projects carried out under an
authorization not to exceed $25 million [section 1135].
Other provisions of regional or project-specific interest to the Service include:
- The Atchafalaya Basin enhancement project authorized as nationally significant (100
percent Federal cost) at a first cost of $223 million, involving approximately 315,000 acres of
easement and 50,000 acres of fee title acquisition [section 601 and see also section 906(f)].
- Fish and wildlife resources associated with the Mississippi Delta Region project are
considered national for the purpose of enhancement [section 906(f)].
- Acceptance of funds from any entity is authorized in accordance with the Pacific Northwest
Power Act for the purpose of mitigating, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife at
projects constructed by the Corps [section 1146].
- The Upper Mississippi River Management Act provides authority for multi-year
appropriations totaling more than $175 million to implement environmental studies described
in the master plan [section 1103].
- The Corps is authorized to develop and implement wetland creation, restoration, protection,
and enhancement features in conjunction with authorized projects in the lower Mississippi
River valley [section 1155].
- The uncompleted portion of the Cross Florida Barge Canal was deauthorized and
reauthorized as a National Conservation Area. A comprehensive management plan was to be
developed within 1 year, in consultation with the Service and the State [section 1114].
- Specific fish and wildlife mitigation projects authorized include [section 601]:
Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, Alabama/Mississippi -- 88,000 acres at a cost
of $60.2 million.
Missouri River Mitigation, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska -- $51.9
million (29,900 acres).
Yazoo Backwater Area, Mississippi -- 40,000 acres; $17.7 million.
Cooper Lake and Channels, Texas -- $14.8 million (28,000 acres).
Red River Waterway, Louisiana -- $9.4 million (14,000 acres).
White River Navigation to Batesville, Arkansas -- 1,865 acres (no cost estimate
Sacramento River Bank Protection, California -- $1.4 million.
Port Canaveral Harbor, Florida -- $276,000.
Richard B. Russell Dam and Lake, Georgia and South Carolina -- $20.2 million.
Davenport, Iowa (Nahant Marsh) -- $517,000.
Obion Creek, Kentucky -- 6,000 to 9,000 acres; $4.9 million.
Harry S. Truman Dam and Reservoir, Missouri -- no more than 1,000 acres; $2.1
Trimble Wildlife Area, Smithville Lake, Missouri -- $1.57 million.
Trinity River, Texas -- $10.4 million (10,000 acres).
- In addition, many of the project construction authorizations contain language addressing
specific fish and wildlife problems, such as:
Duluth-Superior Navigation Project, Minnesota and Wisconsin [section 201];
Locks and Dams 7 and 8 Replacement, Monongahela River, Pennsylvania
Yakima-Union Gap Flood Control Project, Washington [section 401]; and
Souris River Basin (Lake Darling), North Dakota [section 1124].
In discussing section 406 of this Act on the floor of the Senate, Chairman Stafford said:
"Until now, mitigation for land turned over to water development projects came about on a
hit-or-miss basis . . . For the first time, mitigation will have to go forward with the project
requiring the mitigation, not afterward. This bill requires that the Corps develop mitigation plans
for each and every project, or tell the American people why such work is not justified. . . In
addition, this section establishes a new continuing authority, funded at $30 million a year. This
authority will allow the Corps to go back and repair the fish and wildlife damage that its existing
projects have produced."
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