Preservation of Wetlands as a Preferred Option for Impact Mitigation
Renner, James F.
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Current Section 404 regulatory policy focuses on wetland restoration and creation as the primary means of compensating for unavoidable wetland impacts. However, most wetland restoration and creation projects are inefficient; restoration efforts are often expensive, confined to small parcels, not coordinated with regional conservation plans, and of questionable functional value. In contrast, preserving existing wetlands is a cost-effective means of maintaining and enhancing a wide variety of aquatic ecosystem functions, and can be more easily directed within the framework of a statewide resource protection plan. Therefore, wetland preservation meets the goal of the Clean Water Act to restore and maintain the integrity of the nation's waters, and the Section 404 permitting program should favor impact mitigation plans that emphasize wetland preservation over restoration or creation.