Wetlands play an important role in the environment, which is why there are very strict policies in place when it comes to development in or around wetland areas. If you’re planning a project in an area that turns out to include wetlands, there are a number of environmental review steps you must take in order to ensure that your project is compliant. These steps include:
- Mitigation banking
In this post, we’ll cover each of these four steps and what they mean to you. However, working with environmental assessment services is the best way to ensure that your project is compliant.
The first step in responsible wetland regulatory compliance is finding out exactly where the wetlands are within your project plan. This is accomplished through a process known as delineation.
When you hire an environmental analyst to conduct a wetlands delineation on your behalf, the analyst will come to your project site and collect scientific data about the soil, vegetation and topography of the area. If, based on these three elements, the analyst finds that the area meets the legal definition of wetlands, then performing work in that area will require special considerations on your part.
Once the reviewer has an idea of where the wetlands are, the professional land surveyor can mark the boundaries of the area. Then they can map the wetland boundaries and add the map to a project plan, which can be presented to local authorities.
The specific wetlands regulatory compliance permits required for a project will vary greatly based on the specific local, state, and federal regulations. This is why it can be so helpful to work with experienced professionals who know the specifics of a particular area and can walk you through the process.
In spite of the fact that there are so many different permits out there, almost all construction projects will be held in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. In order to conduct a project that may affect the area in or around wetlands, a company must first receive a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. These permits are issued in accordance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Your professional environmental review firm can help you understand what’s involved with Section 404, so that you can approach the permit application process with confidence.
The idea behind mitigation banking is that companies should have a plan in place to help offset the negative impact they may cause to a wetlands area. By performing preservation, enhancement, restoration or creation (PERC) activities in similar ecosystems near the affected area, organizations can make sure they are in compliance with any mitigation banking requirements that affect their project.
Mitigation banking requirements are also covered by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and involve the use of credits assigned by a Mitigation Banking Review Team. A MBRT is made up of representatives from various different local, state, and federal environmental agencies.
Mitigation banking credits are a qualitative representation of ecological value, and if a company is able to secure enough credits before beginning their project, it is assumed that they can complete the project while causing no net loss of habitat for wetland species.
Finally, it’s important to remember that wetlands regulatory compliance isn’t just something that happens once before a project begins. Organizations must monitor their projects to ensure that they stay compliant over time, because permits can be pulled even after a project has already started. In order to ensure ongoing compliance and avoid unscheduled delays, organizations should work with surveying firm that offers environmental assessment services to help perform monitoring.
To learn more about wetlands regulatory compliance and how it can impact your construction project, contact us at Landpoint today. Our environmental assessment services can ensure that your project stays compliant and on-track.
Image Source : New York District