33 CFR 332.4 - Planning and documentation.
(a) Pre-application consultations. Potential applicants for standard permits are encouraged to participate in pre-application meetings with the Corps and appropriate agencies to discuss potential mitigation requirements and information needs.
(b) Public review and comment.
(1) For an activity that requires a standard DA permit pursuant to section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the public notice for the proposed activity must contain a statement explaining how impacts associated with the proposed activity are to be avoided, minimized, and compensated for. This explanation shall address, to the extent that such information is provided in the mitigation statement required by § 325.1(d)(7) of this chapter, the proposed avoidance and minimization and the amount, type, and location of any proposed compensatory mitigation, including any out-of-kind compensation, or indicate an intention to use an approved mitigation bank or in-lieu fee program. The level of detail provided in the public notice must be commensurate with the scope and scale of the impacts. The notice shall not include information that the district engineer and the permittee believe should be kept confidential for business purposes, such as the exact location of a proposed mitigation site that has not yet been secured. The permittee must clearly identify any information being claimed as confidential in the mitigation statement when submitted. In such cases, the notice must still provide enough information to enable the public to provide meaningful comment on the proposed mitigation.
(2) For individual permits, district engineers must consider any timely comments and recommendations from other federal agencies; tribal, state, or local governments; and the public.
(3) For activities authorized by letters of permission or general permits, the review and approval process for compensatory mitigation proposals and plans must be conducted in accordance with the terms and conditions of those permits and applicable regulations including the applicable provisions of this part.
(c) Mitigation plan -
(1) Preparation and approval.
(i) For individual permits, the permittee must prepare a draft mitigation plan and submit it to the district engineer for review. After addressing any comments provided by the district engineer, the permittee must prepare a final mitigation plan, which must be approved by the district engineer prior to issuing the individual permit. The approved final mitigation plan must be incorporated into the individual permit by reference. The final mitigation plan must include the items described in paragraphs (c)(2) through (c)(14) of this section, but the level of detail of the mitigation plan should be commensurate with the scale and scope of the impacts. As an alternative, the district engineer may determine that it would be more appropriate to address any of the items described in paragraphs (c)(2) through (c)(14) of this section as permit conditions, instead of components of a compensatory mitigation plan. For permittees who intend to fulfill their compensatory mitigation obligations by securing credits from approved mitigation banks or in-lieu fee programs, their mitigation plans need include only the items described in paragraphs (c)(5) and (c)(6) of this section, and the name of the specific mitigation bank or in-lieu fee program to be used.
(ii) For general permits, if compensatory mitigation is required, the district engineer may approve a conceptual or detailed compensatory mitigation plan to meet required time frames for general permit verifications, but a final mitigation plan incorporating the elements in paragraphs (c)(2) through (c)(14) of this section, at a level of detail commensurate with the scale and scope of the impacts, must be approved by the district engineer before the permittee commences work in waters of the United States. As an alternative, the district engineer may determine that it would be more appropriate to address any of the items described in paragraphs (c)(2) through (c)(14) of this section as permit conditions, instead of components of a compensatory mitigation plan. For permittees who intend to fulfill their compensatory mitigation obligations by securing credits from approved mitigation banks or in-lieu fee programs, their mitigation plans need include only the items described in paragraphs (c)(5) and (c)(6) of this section, and either the name of the specific mitigation bank or in-lieu fee program to be used or a statement indicating that a mitigation bank or in-lieu fee program will be used (contingent upon approval by the district engineer).
(iii) Mitigation banks and in-lieu fee programs must prepare a mitigation plan including the items in paragraphs (c)(2) through (c)(14) of this section for each separate compensatory mitigation project site. For mitigation banks and in-lieu fee programs, the preparation and approval process for mitigation plans is described in § 332.8.
(2) Objectives. A description of the resource type(s) and amount(s) that will be provided, the method of compensation (i.e., restoration, establishment, enhancement, and/or preservation), and the manner in which the resource functions of the compensatory mitigation project will address the needs of the watershed, ecoregion, physiographic province, or other geographic area of interest.
(3) Site selection. A description of the factors considered during the site selection process. This should include consideration of watershed needs, on-site alternatives where applicable, and the practicability of accomplishing ecologically self-sustaining aquatic resource restoration, establishment, enhancement, and/or preservation at the compensatory mitigation project site. (See § 332.3(d).)
(4) Site protection instrument. A description of the legal arrangements and instrument, including site ownership, that will be used to ensure the long-term protection of the compensatory mitigation project site (see § 332.7(a)).
(5) Baseline information. A description of the ecological characteristics of the proposed compensatory mitigation project site and, in the case of an application for a DA permit, the impact site. This may include descriptions of historic and existing plant communities, historic and existing hydrology, soil conditions, a map showing the locations of the impact and mitigation site(s) or the geographic coordinates for those site(s), and other site characteristics appropriate to the type of resource proposed as compensation. The baseline information should also include a delineation of waters of the United States on the proposed compensatory mitigation project site. A prospective permittee planning to secure credits from an approved mitigation bank or in-lieu fee program only needs to provide baseline information about the impact site, not the mitigation bank or in-lieu fee project site.
(6) Determination of credits. A description of the number of credits to be provided, including a brief explanation of the rationale for this determination. (See § 332.3(f).)
(i) For permittee-responsible mitigation, this should include an explanation of how the compensatory mitigation project will provide the required compensation for unavoidable impacts to aquatic resources resulting from the permitted activity.
(ii) For permittees intending to secure credits from an approved mitigation bank or in-lieu fee program, it should include the number and resource type of credits to be secured and how these were determined.
(7) Mitigation work plan. Detailed written specifications and work descriptions for the compensatory mitigation project, including, but not limited to, the geographic boundaries of the project; construction methods, timing, and sequence; source(s) of water, including connections to existing waters and uplands; methods for establishing the desired plant community; plans to control invasive plant species; the proposed grading plan, including elevations and slopes of the substrate; soil management; and erosion control measures. For stream compensatory mitigation projects, the mitigation work plan may also include other relevant information, such as planform geometry, channel form (e.g., typical channel cross-sections), watershed size, design discharge, and riparian area plantings.
(8) Maintenance plan. A description and schedule of maintenance requirements to ensure the continued viability of the resource once initial construction is completed.
(9) Performance standards. Ecologically-based standards that will be used to determine whether the compensatory mitigation project is achieving its objectives. (See § 332.5.)
(10) Monitoring requirements. A description of parameters to be monitored in order to determine if the compensatory mitigation project is on track to meet performance standards and if adaptive management is needed. A schedule for monitoring and reporting on monitoring results to the district engineer must be included. (See § 332.6.)
(11) Long-term management plan. A description of how the compensatory mitigation project will be managed after performance standards have been achieved to ensure the long-term sustainability of the resource, including long-term financing mechanisms and the party responsible for long-term management. (See § 332.7(d).)
(12) Adaptive management plan. A management strategy to address unforeseen changes in site conditions or other components of the compensatory mitigation project, including the party or parties responsible for implementing adaptive management measures. The adaptive management plan will guide decisions for revising compensatory mitigation plans and implementing measures to address both foreseeable and unforeseen circumstances that adversely affect compensatory mitigation success. (See § 332.7(c).)
(13) Financial assurances. A description of financial assurances that will be provided and how they are sufficient to ensure a high level of confidence that the compensatory mitigation project will be successfully completed, in accordance with its performance standards (see § 332.3(n)).
(14) Other information. The district engineer may require additional information as necessary to determine the appropriateness, feasibility, and practicability of the compensatory mitigation project.