Opportunity for Improved Wetland Mitigation in Utah - In-Lieu Fee Mitigation Potential in Utah (OFR-755)

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By: Diane Menuz and Rebekah Downard

Wetlands in Utah are regulated primarily by the federal government under the Clean Water Act (CWA), which requires mitigation to replace ecological services that are lost to permitted activities. This report explores the potential for an In-Lieu Fee (ILF) mitigation program in Utah, which would allow entities seeking CWA permits to pay a fee to mitigate impacts to streams and wetlands rather than having to develop their own mitigation plans. An ILF program would improve the quality of wetland mitigation projects, improve coordination between the various entities involved in natural resource protection and restoration, and streamline the permitting process. A recent change by the federal government as to which wetlands are protected under the CWA may reduce permit levels to a point where an ILF program would be difficult to sustain. To address both the need for improvements to the mitigation process and concerns about accelerated loss of wetlands functions due to changing federal regulations, we recommend establishing a position for a wetland mitigation and restoration coordinator who can explore multiple options to preserve and restore wetlands in Utah, coordinate among agencies, and begin to implement an ILF program at a rate and scale appropriate to the new regulatory conditions.

Published: 2023
Pages: 22
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