What is mitigation and do you need it?
People hear the word ‘mitigation’ and often times do not understand what that means or what it does.
Wetlands are special habitats that provide unique wildlife and water quality benefits to all of us. As a result, these habitats are protected by local, state, and federal laws. Sometimes wetland impacts are unavoidable (such as for roads). This is where mitigation comes in.
Simply put, mitigation is a way to offset impact to a regulated area. Impacts include dredging, filling, draining, or other substantial changes to wetland habitats. In certain circumstances mitigation may be required for upland wildlife habitat.
The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have established quantitative methods to determine how much mitigation is required for a particular project. This keeps the focus on wetland function instead of someone’s ability to negotiate. Wetland assessment methods are still somewhat subjective in their approach. The two most used methods in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia are the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM) and the Wetland Rapid Assessment Procedure (WRAP). Both methods have their strengths and weaknesses. We use WRAP and UMAM for a variety of projects and have successfully completed many projects using these tools.
We always recommend avoiding wetland impacts if at all possible because the mitigation credits are extremely expensive depending on the mitigation basis your project is in. Plus, the permitting process may take a long time. Six months to a year or more is not unusual. Keep in mind also that nobody is guaranteed a wetland permit.
This is a complicated subject. If you feel you are in need of this service, call us and we’ll walk you through your options. 904.384.7020