The WDNR made an announcement on Friday, November 21 that a new in-lieu fee program for wetland mitigation, also referred to as The Wisconsin Wetland Conservation Trust (WWCT), is now in effect and can be used as a type of compensatory mitigation for impacts to wetlands. The WDNR has been working on the creation of this new program for the last couple of years and the Final Instrument was finally signed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Interagency Review Team Compensatory, which legally establishes the program.
Per the WDNR, this new in-lieu fee program “involves the restoration, establishment, enhancement and/or preservation of aquatic resources through funds paid to a government or non-profit natural resources management entity to satisfy compensatory mitigation requirements for permits. An in-lieu fee program sells credits to permittees whose legal obligation to provide compensatory mitigation is then transferred to the sponsor of the in-lieu fee program upon receipt of an associated credit fee.”
Under WI Act 118, mitigation became a requirement back in March 2012 for unavoidable adverse impacts approved under an Individual Permit (IP). This is typically required for impacts to wetlands 10,000 square feet or greater, but can also be required under certain circumstances when impacts are less than 10,000 square feet. Prior to the in-lieu fee program, applicants only had two choices for wetland compensatory mitigation: purchasing credits from privately owned wetland mitigation banks or permittee-responsible mitigation.
The WDNR has indicated that the mitigation banking will still be preferred over the in-lieu fee option, but when mitigation bank credits are sparse or non-existent, the in-lieu fee option will be available as the next preferred option to receive credit purchases.
If you have any questions related to wetland mitigation, wetlands permitting, or wetland delineations, please contact one of raSmith’s professional wetland ecologists: Tina Myers at (262) 317-3389 or Theran Stautz at (608) 421-5317.