Wetlands Net Loss

State and federal agencies have been regulating the destruction of wetlands and streams under the concept of “No Net Loss” since the first
Bush administration announced it in 1989. This means that permits to fill or alter public waterways are supposed to go through the hierarchy of
avoidance and minimization, and then if impacts are allowed, the permit requires mitigation by creation of new – formerly destroyed or newly
constructed – wetlands or stream length to more than replace the amount lost. Usually mitigation is required at ratios of 2 or 3 to 1, thus
gradually increasing the amount and having a net gain – or at least no net loss, as the catch phrase implies.

Mitigation: Putting Hamburger Back into the Cow
We have dubbed our mitigation campaign “Yes, Net Loss” as we have found numerous sites where mitigation efforts failed, never got done, or were
later destroyed. It is very difficult to recreate the environmental values of naturally functioning wetlands and streams. For more details
see Failed Mitigation.

Corps’ Dismal Record
The Clean Water Act (CWA) regulates such impacts under permits through section 404 of the CWA – administered mostly by the Army Corps of
Engineers – and companion state provisions under section 401 of the CWA and companion state laws. Many think of the 404 program as applying to
wetlands, but it also applies to stream alterations, either separately or as associated with a part of wetlands.

PEER has been: 1) working to document how well the program is functioning 2) participating in preventing bad permits from getting issued
and keeping rules from getting weakened, and 3) following up on mitigation to see if it got done or enforcing against violators. For more
details see Corps Wetlands Record.

PEER is also a part of the Mississippi River Collaborative. Click here for more info.

Phone: 202-265-7337

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Silver Spring, MD 20910-4453

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Environmental Responsibility

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