In 2003, the Mitigation Wetlands Team developed a technical/regulatory guidance for mitigation/restoration wetlands. Mitigation wetlands are built to replace wetland habitats lost to development or degradation. A no-net-loss policy among federal and state governments mandates that degraded or destroyed wetlands be restored or replaced. Mixed authorities in the federal and state government strain resources for mitigating or restoring wetlands and often lead to overlapping, if not duplicative, authorities. Some states are still in the process of delineating their wetlands areas as a first step toward implementing no-net-loss policies and rules.
The technical/regulatory guidance envisioned by the Mitigation Wetlands Team helped standardize criteria for evaluating and documenting the performance of a mitigation or restoration wetland. The adoption of this guidance by state and federal authorities will help ensure the sustainability of wetlands as wildlife habitats.
The Mitigation Wetlands Team first conducted a regulatory overview to assess overlapping, conflicting, and dual authorities that oversee no-net-loss policies that affect restored wetlands. The team then developed a flow diagram depicting the regulatory framework and the key decision points within the regulatory approval process. The team identified issues that impede completion of wetlands and recommended alternative solutions. This project included the review of existing case studies to evaluate different criteria being used to assess the value of a wetland and the health of wetlands as a habitat for wildlife. The team also developed an Internet-based training course based on the guidance document Characterization, Design, Construction, and Monitoring of Mitigation Wetlands (WTLND-2, 2005).