Compensating for Wetland Losses Under the Clean Water Act

The National Research Council Committee on Mitigating Wetland Losses provides a comprehensive report reviewing the compensatory wetland mitigation program in the US. The report presents five findings with recommendations for improvement including: the goal of no net loss of wetlands is not being met for wetland functions by the mitigation program, despite progress in the last 20 years; a watershed approach would improve permit decision making; performance expectations in Section 404 permits have often been unclear, and compliance has often not been assured nor attained; Support for regulatory decision making is inadequate; and, third-party compensation approaches (mitigation banks, in-lieu fee programs) offer some advantages over permittee-responsible mitigation. Key considerations are also given that will guide regulators and mitigation bank proponents alike.