The Georgia Wetlands Trust Fund: An In-lieu Fee Program for Wetlands Mitigation
Neuhauser, Hans N.
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The Georgia Wetlands Trust Fund (GWTF) provides an alternative strategy for meeting wetlands mitigation requirements under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Upon approval by the U.S. Anny Corps of Engineers, permittees can meet some or all of their mitigation requirements by contributing a fee to the GWTF. The fee is used to help local partners, either a land trust or government entity, acquire and permanently protect wetlands with high conservation value. For the developer, use of the GWTF simplifies the task of meeting mitigation requirements imposed by the Corps of Engineers, and depending on circumstances, may also be more cost effective than on-site mitigation or the purchase of credits from a mitigation bank. For the regulatory agency, the GWTF increases regulatory flexibility and simplifies the Corps' administrative oversight. For the conservation community, the GWTF allows land trusts or natural resources agencies to permanently protect wetlands with high conservation value. The GWTF may also be used for Settlement Agreements. The GWTF is administered by the Georgia Land Trust Service Center, a private, non-profit organization headquartered in Athens, Georgia. The agreement that established the GWTF, the first such agreement of its kind in the United States, was signed by representatives of the Georgia Land Trust Service Center and the Savannah District of the U.S. Anny Corps of Engineers in July, 1997.