(a) Site protection.(1) The aquatic habitats, riparian areas, buffers, and uplands that comprise the overall compensatory mitigation project must be provided long-term protection through real estate instruments or other available mechanisms, as appropriate. Long-term protection may be provided through real estate instruments such as conservation easements held by entities such as federal, tribal, state, or local resource agencies, non-profit conservation organizations, or private land managers; the transfer of title to such entities; or by restrictive covenants. For government property, long-term protection may be provided through federal facility management plans or integrated natural resources management plans. When approving a method for long-term protection of non-government property other than transfer of title, the district engineer shall consider relevant legal constraints on the use of conservation easements and/or restrictive covenants in determining whether such mechanisms provide sufficient site protection. To provide sufficient site protection, a conservation easement or restrictive covenant should, where practicable, establish in an appropriate third party (e.g., governmental or non-profit resource management agency) the right to enforce site protections and provide the third party the resources necessary to monitor and enforce these site protections.
(2) The real estate instrument, management plan, or other mechanism providing long-term protection of the compensatory mitigation site must, to the extent appropriate and practicable, prohibit incompatible uses (e.g., clear cutting or mineral extraction) that might otherwise jeopardize the objectives of the compensatory mitigation project. Where appropriate, multiple instruments recognizing compatible uses (e.g., fishing or grazing rights) may be used.
(3) The real estate instrument, management plan, or other long-term protection mechanism must contain a provision requiring 60-day advance notification to the district engineer before any action is taken to void or modify the instrument, management plan, or long-term protection mechanism, including transfer of title to, or establishment of any other legal claims over, the compensatory mitigation site.
(4) For compensatory mitigation projects on public lands, where federal facility management plans or integrated natural resources management plans are used to provide long-term protection, and changes in statute, regulation, or agency needs or mission results in an incompatible use on public lands originally set aside for compensatory mitigation, the public agency authorizing the incompatible use is responsible for providing alternative compensatory mitigation that is acceptable to the district engineer for any loss in functions resulting from the incompatible use.
(5) A real estate instrument, management plan, or other long-term protection mechanism used for site protection of permittee-responsible mitigation must be approved by the district engineer in advance of, or concurrent with, the activity causing the authorized impacts.
(b) Sustainability. Compensatory mitigation projects shall be designed, to the maximum extent practicable, to be self-sustaining once performance standards have been achieved. This includes minimization of active engineering features (e.g., pumps) and appropriate siting to ensure that natural hydrology and landscape context will support long-term sustainability. Where active long-term management and maintenance are necessary to ensure long-term sustainability (e.g., prescribed burning, invasive species control, maintenance of water control structures, easement enforcement), the responsible party must provide for such management and maintenance. This includes the provision of long-term financing mechanisms where necessary. Where needed, the acquisition and protection of water rights must be secured and documented in the permit conditions or instrument.
(c) Adaptive management.(1) If the compensatory mitigation project cannot be constructed in accordance with the approved mitigation plans, the permittee or sponsor must notify the district engineer. A significant modification of the compensatory mitigation project requires approval from the district engineer.
(2) If monitoring or other information indicates that the compensatory mitigation project is not progressing towards meeting its performance standards as anticipated, the responsible party must notify the district engineer as soon as possible. The district engineer will evaluate and pursue measures to address deficiencies in the compensatory mitigation project. The district engineer will consider whether the compensatory mitigation project is providing ecological benefits comparable to the original objectives of the compensatory mitigation project.
(3) The district engineer, in consultation with the responsible party (and other federal, tribal, state, and local agencies, as appropriate), will determine the appropriate measures. The measures may include site modifications, design changes, revisions to maintenance requirements, and revised monitoring requirements. The measures must be designed to ensure that the modified compensatory mitigation project provides aquatic resource functions comparable to those described in the mitigation plan objectives.
(4) Performance standards may be revised in accordance with adaptive management to account for measures taken to address deficiencies in the compensatory mitigation project. Performance standards may also be revised to reflect changes in management strategies and objectives if the new standards provide for ecological benefits that are comparable or superior to the approved compensatory mitigation project. No other revisions to performance standards will be allowed except in the case of natural disasters.
(d) Long-term management.(1) The permit conditions or instrument must identify the party responsible for ownership and all long-term management of the compensatory mitigation project. The permit conditions or instrument may contain provisions allowing the permittee or sponsor to transfer the long-term management responsibilities of the compensatory mitigation project site to a land stewardship entity, such as a public agency, non-governmental organization, or private land manager, after review and approval by the district engineer. The land stewardship entity need not be identified in the original permit or instrument, as long as the future transfer of long-term management responsibility is approved by the district engineer.
(2) A long-term management plan should include a description of long-term management needs, annual cost estimates for these needs, and identify the funding mechanism that will be used to meet those needs.
(3) Any provisions necessary for long-term financing must be addressed in the original permit or instrument. The district engineer may require provisions to address inflationary adjustments and other contingencies, as appropriate. Appropriate long-term financing mechanisms include non-wasting endowments, trusts, contractual arrangements with future responsible parties, and other appropriate financial instruments. In cases where the long-term management entity is a public authority or government agency, that entity must provide a plan for the long-term financing of the site.
(4) For permittee-responsible mitigation, any long-term financing mechanisms must be approved in advance of the activity causing the authorized impacts.
Title 33 published on 2012-07-01
no entries appear in the Federal Register after this date.