Who Approves Trust Fund Projects?
Regulatory agencies determine whether a permit applicant can use the Trust Fund as the selected mitigation option, as well as the required mitigation. The Conservancy establishes the fee schedule for credits which determines the amount that the permit applicant’s pays to provide the appropriate mitigation for the permitted impact.
The Conservancy holds the mitigation payments in an interest-generating account. These payments are then used by the Conservancy to complete the required stream and/or wetland mitigation.
Potential projects are proposed by the Conservancy, and regulatory agencies (Corps and DEQ) must approve both the proposed project and the requested funding amount before starting the project. The regulatory review panel is known as the IRT (Interagency Review Panel) and is co-chaired by the Corps and DEQ. Additional agency representatives from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), NOAA, EPA, and DGIF provide regular review and input of the proposed projects.
Each project site is also public noticed through the Corps and available for public comment for a specific period of time. The Conservancy addresses IRT and public comments in development of a final project plan.
How do the Conservancy and regulatory agencies select projects?
Conservancy Trust Fund staff pursue wetland and stream projects that meet a strict set of criteria. Conservancy staff also review projects proposed by regulatory or advisory agencies, localities, consultants, and other conservation organizations. Conservancy Trust Fund staff assist potential partners through the site review, proposal process, and implementation of funded activities. The following items are considered during the identification/search for and review of a potential project:
- Overall fit within the Trust Fund Compensation Planning Framework
- Appropriateness of the site to provide mitigation for permitted impacts
- Mitigation need and available funds in the project area (major river basin)
- Likelihood of long-term success
- Ability to permanently protect aquatic resources (ex. conservation easement)
- Proximity to identified areas of concern, environmentally sensitive sites, or other protected lands
- Project cost
What does the Conservancy need to propose new projects?
As Conservancy Trust Fund staff develop new projects they compile specific information needed for a project proposal. The proposal document includes the following:
- Clear objectives for the project
- Site selection factors
- Site protection method and details
- Baseline information
- Conceptual mitigation plan
- Proposed credits
This information is provided to the IRT at the time each site is proposed and made available through Public Notice.
How does the Conservancy implement new projects?
Once a project has been proposed, gone through a public comment period, and is approved by the Corps and DEQ, the Conservancy develops a final mitigation plan for each site. Any changes necessary since the project was proposed based on IRT input, or response to public comments is incorporated in the final plan which includes the following twelve elements:
- Site selection
- Site protection
- Baseline information
- Credit determination
- Final mitigation plan
- Maintenance plan
- Performance standards
- Monitoring requirement
- Long-term management
- Adaptive management
- Financial assurances
Additional details concerning the Trust Fund are included in the most recent annual report (pdf). A map of the project sites is also available (.pdf, 271KB). If you are interested in submitting a project for potential funding through the Trust Fund, please contact Karen Johnson (Mitigation Program Manager) at 804-644-5800 ext. 116.