Mitigation Program Manager, Maine
Bryan is TNC Maine’s Mitigation Program Manager and primarily oversees TNC's administration of the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program (MNRCP), a statewide In Lieu Fee Program that helps restore and preserve wetlands to offset the impacts of development in the state. In this role, Bryan works collaboratively with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage an annual grant funding round for wetland restoration and conservation projects. Bryan is working on expanding efforts to reach new prospective applicants for the program and deepening TNC’s support for wetland restoration and enhancement projects. He works with grant applicants to identify wetland conservation and restoration projects, provides guidance through the grant application process, coordinates the application reviews with state and federal agencies, and assists with implementation of projects that are awarded funding. MNRCP is widely viewed as a successful program in the state, region and country.
Bryan is also engaged with TNC Maine’s other mitigation work, including review and analysis of mitigation plans for significant state projects and planning for new and enhanced mitigation efforts for other high value resources in the state. Bryan has engaged with TNC’s mitigation efforts nationwide, working with other chapters and program leads to expand TNC’s mitigation practice and catalyze new mitigation markets.
“Development is going to continue in Maine, and the mitigation process is critical to ensuring that development does not negatively affect the state’s valuable natural resources," Says Bryan. "Mitigation starts with avoidance and minimization, and all efforts should be made to avoid and minimize impacts as part of any development. But for those impacts that cannot be avoided, high-quality, science-based compensation is critical to make sure that the natural resources in our state are protected and restored. I enjoy the blend of science and policy that is involved in mitigation efforts, and I’m proud of the fact that MNRCP is viewed as one of the most successful In Lieu Fee programs in the country.”
Prior to joining TNC, Bryan was an environmental consultant with Stantec in Topsham, Maine, where he worked as a project manager and project scientist for 12 years. Bryan worked with a wide variety of clients, ranging from private homeowners to national renewable energy companies, and managed projects including commercial developments, wind-energy developments, and multi-state pipelines. Bryan has extensive experience with wetland restoration design, state and federal natural resource permitting, mitigation site monitoring, wetland and natural resource surveys, and invasive species management. Prior to working with Stantec, Bryan lived in Seattle and worked for a small consulting firm managing a range of ecological restoration projects. Bryan is a certified Professional Wetland Scientist, a Certified Master Pesticide Applicator, and has a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Vermont.
Celebrate World Wetlands Day with a Program that Restores Wetlands!
February 2 is World Wetlands Day, a day that’s close to my heart. I’ve spent the majority of my professional career in and around wetlands. From delineating wetland boundaries to designing wetland restoration projects, I have always enjoyed tromping through (and sometimes falling in!) wetlands. As the Mitigation Program Manager at The Nature Conservancy in Maine, my focus every day is on restoration and conservation of wetlands and the protective lands that surround them. So many plants and animals depend on wetlands for their survival, and marshes, bogs, swamps, wet meadows and vernal pools are not only critical habitats for wildlife, they also help absorb floodwaters, prevent erosion and purify drinking water. Wetlands also play a large role in storing carbon and making communities more resilient to the effects of climate change.
According to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, roughly 25% of Maine's land area is wetlands—that’s four times the wetland area of the other five New England States combined. But our wetlands are also under threat. While Maine has relatively strong regulations that help manage development and push developers to avoid or minimize impacts on these important areas, there are times when it is just not possible. In those situations, developers must compensate for those impacts and that’s where the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program, or MNRCP, comes into play.
MNRCP was created to manage the allocation of funds collected through Maine’s In Lieu Fee (ILF) Compensation Program. The ILF Program allows applicants seeking permits for wetland impacts to pay a fee instead of more time-intensive traditional mitigation options. These so-called In Lieu Fees are collected by the Maine DEP and then transferred to The Nature Conservancy. This voluntary program provides flexibility for regulators as well as for businesses, agencies and others that are seeking state and federal permits.
MNRCP then runs an annual competitive grant process that awards funds to projects that restore and protect high priority aquatic resources throughout Maine. These projects are designed to offset the impacts from development. The program is administered by The Nature Conservancy on behalf of the Maine DEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Projects are reviewed by a committee of state and federal agencies and non-profit groups. It is personally very inspiring to see all the great projects that come through the program and to work collaboratively with a group of professionals who are trying to find the best projects to restore and protect wetlands across the state.
Now in its sixteenth year, MNRCP is widely considered to be a successful mitigation program. Since its launch in 2008, MNRCP has awarded over $26 million to non-profit groups, municipalities and public agencies to help restore, enhance or preserve wetlands and other important habitats at over 160 project sites across the state. MNRCP provides funds for restoration project design, construction oversight, and long-term monitoring, as well as for permanent land protection (fee acquisition or conservation easement), resulting in a wide variety of excellent conservation work. From projects like a salt marsh enhancement effort in Milbridge, to eelgrass restoration in Brunswick and Harpswell, to restoring a degraded stream at a road crossing in Atkinson, the program has made a big difference for wetlands all over Maine.
It is also timely that World Wetlands Day is focused on wetland restoration in 2023, as this mirrors a renewed focus of MNRCP to identify and fund high quality wetland restoration projects. Wetland restoration, as opposed to wetland preservation which has been more commonly funded by MNRCP, better meets state and federal mitigation goals by directly replacing wetland acreage that has been lost due to development.
In order to help meet these goals, we are also making program improvements that will hopefully provide more flexibility to those proposing wetland restoration projects. Allowing reimbursement for site selection costs, moving money between regions for high quality restoration sites and compensating for project management costs are just some of the ways MNRCP is adapting to try to better support restoration projects.
The 2023 funding round is expected to open in May. So, if you or your organization have a wetland restoration or conservation project idea that may be a good fit for MNRCP, I encourage you to reach out right away and our team can help walk you through the proposal process.