November 28, 2001
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers adopted new internal guidelines on Oct. 31, 2001, to standardize management of wetlands mitigation projects, sparking strong protests from a range of groups and agencies. The guidelines came after critical reports published earlier in the year by the National Research Council and the General Accounting Office. Mitigation projects are required of developers, farmers, and others to compensate for destruction of existing wetlands or other aquatic resources.
Environmentalists say the guidelines have many flaws. For instance, the Corps now says a 50-foot width will normally be adequate for vegetated stream buffers, while other jurisdictions have adopted widths of 100-200 feet. Environmentalists also say the Corps used a mechanism, the "Regulatory Guidance Letter," that allows it to avoid review by other agencies or the public.
- Corps: Becki Dobyns, 202-761-1809, Release.
- National Wildlife Federation: Julie Sibbing, 202-797-6832, "Greening of the Corps of Engineers."
- EPA: John Goodin, 202-260-9910, EPA Wetlands page.
- National Association of Home Builders: Susan Asmus, 202-266-8538.
- National Research Council, "Compensating for Wetland Losses Under the Clean Water Act." NRC media: Bill Kearney, 202-334-2138.
- U.S. General Accounting Office, "Wetlands Protection: Assessments Needed to Determine Effectiveness of In-Lieu-Fee Mitigation," Peg Reese, 202-512-9695.
- See June 27, 2001, TipSheet for additional information on wetlands and the Corps.