|Seal Trust Mitigation Agreement|
Development in wetland areas is generally prohibited by law. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can approve projects that affect wetlands if the projects benefit the public and the wetland impacts are avoided, minimized and mitigated. When on-site mitigation options are not available, the Corps may require the developer to pay a “fee in-lieu” of mitigation. The project mitigation responsibility and these “in-lieu fees” are then transferred to a designated in-lieu-fee sponsor to conduct wetland restoration, creation, enhancement or preservation projects. Under an agreement with the Army Corps, the Southeast Alaska Land Trust is authorized to receive fees-in-lieu of mitigation.
The Southeast Alaska Land Trust places all mitigation funds we receive into a separate account used primarily for preservation of wetlands, other aquatic habitat, and important adjacent upland buffers. Before we invest these funds in a project, the Trust consults with a team of resource agency experts and the Army Corps to ensure that the proposed project advances their program goals.
To date, Southeast Alaska Land Trust has used these “in-lieu fees” to secure conservation easements on wetlands bordering the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge, on an estuarine parcel near Petersburg, and a riparian/wetland area on Hilda Creek near Juneau. We are currently partnering with other organizations and agencies in pursuit of important preservation projects around the region.
The rules governing the in-lieu fee program changed significantly in June, 2008 with heightened attention paid to compensatory mitigation requirements. The 2008 regulations, the Corps of Engineers Alaska Region Guidance paper, and an EPA-Corps summary can be found here. Important agency links are also provided.
In response to the 2008 regulations, SEAL Trust is now working with the Corps and other resource agencies to upgrade our existing in-lieu fee agreement with the Corps. A one-page introduction, draft “Compensation Planning Framework”, draft “ILF Program Account”, and our 1998 agreement can be found in the upper right of this page.