New Wetlands Guidelines Draw Fire

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.