Guidelines for Wetland Compensatory Mitigation in Wisconsin finalized

MADISON – Guidelines for Wetland Compensatory Mitigation in Wisconsin are now available to help people meet state and federal requirements for wetland mitigation and provide information for anyone interested in developing a new mitigation bank. The guidelines are also the subject of a year-long public comment period ending August 1, 2014.

Wisconsin law now requires property owners to mitigate for wetland impacts if they receive permission to fill wetlands under an individual permit. Federal law requires mitigation for some projects as well, says Pam Schense, Department of Natural Resources wetland mitigation coordinator.

Compensatory mitigation involves restoring, enhancing, creating or preserving a wetland to “compensate” for wetland loss either by buying credits from a pre-approved mitigation bank or completing a project-specific mitigation projects.

“Federal and state wetland mitigation regulations have both changed since our last guidelines were issued. These new guidelines reflect these changes and help us find one consistent approach for applicants to meet agencies’ mitigation requirements,” says Schense.

DNR, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service worked together to update the interagency guidelines from the last version of the document published in 2002. The guidelines are used by agency personnel, mitigation bank sponsors, permit applicants and others involved in the identification, planning, crediting and construction of wetland compensatory mitigation sites, she says.

The guidelines are available on DNR’s website. They are known as “Version 1” of the Guidelines for Wetland Compensatory Mitigation in Wisconsin, because DNR and the U.S. Army Corps are accepting comments on the guidelines for the next year. The comments will be evaluated as officials work on a second version to assure the guidelines work as well in practice as they do on paper, Schense says.

Comments should be submitted to Pam Schense, DNR Wetland Mitigation Coordinator, at Pamela.Schense@Wisconsin.gov, or sent to her by U.S. Mail at WI Dept. of Natural Resources, 101 S. Webster St – WT/3, Madison, WI 53707-7921.