October 7, 2005
Wetlands Mitigation - The Honor System ???
GAO has published yet another report criticizing the Army Corps of Engineers for failing to supervise compensatory wetlands efforts. As GAO notes, full compliance with compensatory wetlands conditions in CWA 404 permits is essential to achieve the "no net loss" of wetlands goal -- and the Corps does not effectively enforce those conditions. GAO compensatory wetlands report
There is considerable variation among districts concerning compliance monitoring; however, in the vast majority of cases, the Corps could not locate the permit file, poorly specified mitigation requirements, failed to require mitigation reporting by the permittee, or filed to review mitigation reports filed by the permittee. Similarly, the Corps did not conduct compliance inspections in most cases. And the Corps did not file a single enforcement action against a permittee regarding failure to comply with mitigation requirements.
GAO advocates more specific guidance to districts on monitoring compliance and enforcement with compensatory wetland conditions, setting goals for districts on monitoring and enforcement, and review of existing mitigation banks and in-lieu-fee arrangements to assure they comply with mitigation policy.
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