The Corps reviews each project application for its potential to adversely impact aquatic resources.  On June 10, 2008, the Final Rule for Compensatory Mitigation for Losses to Aquatic Resources (the Mitigation Rule) went into effect.  The Mitigation Rule clarifies what must be considered and what information is required when developing compensatory mitigation for unavoidable impacts to the nation’s aquatic resources, including wetlands, streams, and ocean waters.  When mitigation is required remains unchanged.  The Mitigation Rule also stresses that impacts must be avoided and minimized, in that order, prior to the development of a compensatory mitigation plan to offset permitted impacts.


Each permit application must contain a statement on how the project avoids, minimizes, and compensates for proposed adverse impacts to aquatic resources.

In addition to the Rule, projects that require the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S. as regulated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, must comply with the Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines (Guidelines).  The Guidelines only allow the Corps to authorize the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative to achieving the project purpose. 

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Providing compensatory mitigation

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 There are three ways to provide compensatory mitigation:

Mitigation Banks, In-Lieu Fee Programs and Permittee-Responsible Mitigation. Mitigation banks and in-lieu fee programs are generally the preferred options for mitigation because they consolidate resources and involve more financial planning and scientific expertise. These factors help reduce the risk of failure of mitigation projects. The following are acceptable mitigation options, listed in order of environmental preference as described in the mitigation rule:

 Mitigation bank

A mitigation bank is one or more sites where aquatic resources such as wetlands or streams are restored, established, enhanced and/or preserved for the purpose of providing compensatory mitigation in advance of authorized impacts to similar resources. A bank sells mitigation “credits” to permittees. The obligation to provide mitigation is then transferred to the bank sponsor. The bank sponsor is then responsible for implementing the mitigation, monitoring its performance and long-term site management.

 In-lieu fee program

An in-lieu fee program involves the restoration, establishment, enhancement and/or preservation of aquatic resources through funds typically paid to state governments, local governments, or non-profit natural resources management organizations. As with banks, credits are sold to permittees by the in-lieu fee sponsor. The in-lieu fee sponsor is then responsible for implementing the mitigation, monitoring its performance and managing the site long-term

 Permittee-responsible mitigation

Individual mitigation projects constructed by permittees can also compensate for environmental impacts authorized by the Corps. This option makes the permittee responsible for implementing the mitigation, monitoring its performance and long-term site management. Mitigation projects may occur on the same site as the permitted project or at an offsite location usually within the same watershed. In some cases, permittee-responsible mitigation is the only option. This is typical when proposed impacts are not located within the service area of an approved mitigation bank or in-lieu fee program, or if these mitigation options would not provide appropriate mitigation for the proposed impacts.

 Regulatory In-lieu Fee and Bank Information Tracking System (RIBITS)

RIBITS (Regulatory In lieu fee and Bank Information Tracking System) was developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with support from the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Federal Highway Administration, and NOAA Fisheries to provide better information on mitigation and conservation banking and in-lieu fee programs across the country. RIBITS allows users to access information on the types and numbers of mitigation and conservation bank and in-lieu fee program sites, associated documents, mitigation credit availability, service areas, as well information on national and local policies and procedures that affect mitigation and conservation bank and in-lieu fee program development and operation.

What to include in a mitigation plan:

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 The mitigation rule (33 CFR 332.4(c)) describes these 13 components in detail (click for list):

If you’re using a bank or in-lieu fee program you do not need to provide all of the components listed below. However, you should include a description of the baseline conditions at the impact site, the number and type of resource credits to be secured and how these were determined. If compensatory mitigation is required, you must submit a mitigation plan. There are 13 required components in every mitigation plan.

1) Preparation and approval (This component is guidance specific and is not included as an actual component of a compensatory wetland mitigation plan.)
2) Objectives
3) Site selection
4) Site protection instrument
5) Baseline information
6) Determination of credits
7) Mitigation work plan
8) Maintenance plan
9) Performance standards
10) Monitoring requirements
11) Long-term management plan
12) Adaptive management plan
13) Financial assurances
14) Other relevant information
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Although not required, assistance from a qualified environmental consultant may be beneficial in developing a comprehensive and acceptable mitigation plan. All mitigation plans require Corps approval.

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Contact Information

Regulatory Office
Building 230
Fort Shafter, HI  96858-5440
(808) 835-4303 

Guam Field Office
Apra Harbor Naval Complex
PSC 455 Box 188
FPO, AP 96540-1088  Guam
(671) 339-2108