STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE FOR DETERMINATION OF MITIGATION RATIOS
Los Angeles District:
Daniel P. Swenson (213) 452-3414 (Daniel.P.Swenson@usace.army.mil)
San Francisco District:
Laurie Monarres (415) 503-6774 (Laurie.A.Monarres@usace.army.mil)
Deanna Cummings (505) 342-3280 (Deanna.L.Cummings@usace.army.mil)
Will Ness (916) 557-5268 (William.W.Ness@usace.army.mil)
South Pacific Division
Tom Cavanaugh (415) 503-6574 (Thomas.J.Cavanaugh@usace.army.mil)
INTRODUCTION: This informational public notice announces updates to a procedure for determining compensatory mitigation requirements as required for processing of Department of the Army (DA) permits under section 404 of the Clean Water Act, section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, and section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act.
This procedure applies to the Regulatory Program within South Pacific Division (SPD), including its four subordinate districts: Albuquerque District (SPA), Sacramento District (SPK), Los Angeles District (SPL), and San Francisco District (SPN). This procedure is applicable for all permit applications received after 20 April 2011 that require compensatory mitigation. Compensatory mitigation is the restoration (re-establishment or rehabilitation), establishment (i.e., creation), enhancement, and/or in certain circumstances preservation of aquatic resources for the purposes of offsetting unavoidable, adverse impacts that remain after all appropriate and practicable avoidance and minimization of aquatic resources has been achieved. The procedure was updated in January, August and November 2012 (updates described below).
Historically, the SPD Regulatory Program has lacked a procedure or guidance for determining compensatory mitigation ratios as required for processing of Department of the Army (DA) permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, and Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act. In addition, the 2008 mitigation rule (33 C.F.R. Part 332) does not provide a detailed procedure for determining compensatory mitigation ratios. However, it does provide some general guidelines and requires that the rationale for the required replacement ratio must be documented in the administrative record for the permit action. To address this long-standing need, a multi-district team was formed to develop a regional procedure for determining and documenting compensatory mitigation ratios, as well as accompanying guidance for Regulatory project managers. The purpose of this new, regional procedure is to reduce inconsistency between project managers, offices, and districts in determining compensatory mitigation requirements, to incorporate current scientific understanding of mitigation concepts, and to require documentation of these key decisions, thereby reducing uncertainty on behalf of the regulated community regarding compensatory mitigation requirements.
Benefits of the new procedure include:
· Provides a structured decision-making procedure while retaining flexibility;
· Allows for qualitative or quantitative assessments of impacts and mitigation;
· Results in a written rationale (decision document) for each ratio determination;
· Includes guidance (instructions) for each step of checklist; and
· Incorporates use of functional/condition assessments when available and/or required.
Factors considered as part of this procedure include:
· Impact-mitigation comparison (quantitative or qualitative);
· Mitigation site location;
· Net loss of aquatic resource surface area;
· Type conversion;
· Uncertainty of success; and
· Temporal loss.
Documents associated with the procedure (attached) include:
· Procedure document;
· Mitigation ratio setting checklist;
· Examples; and
· Before-after mitigation-impact spreadsheet.
AVAILABILITY: This procedure is part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Quality Management System (QMS). As such, it is not currently available for downloading by the public. In addition, this procedure may be updated periodically. To obtain the most recent version of these documents, please contact the Regulatory Division of the applicable SPD Corps district (contacts listed above).