Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sign In-Lieu Fee Agreement
CONCORD– Friday, May 23, 2014 – The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New England District (Corps) today signed an In-Lieu Fee agreement, offering Massachusetts permit seekers who are required to compensate for their project’s impacts to natural resources to pay a fee to a larger fund to address impact mitigation.
The In-Lieu Fee Program (ILFP) advances the protection of aquatic resources, wetlands and waters in Massachusetts by providing individuals and firms seeking a Corps permit the ability to make a monetary payment in-lieu of, or in addition to the required mitigation. These aggregated fees can then be used for greater mitigation projects.
“We are pleased that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved DFG to sponsor this state-wide program that will result in the protection and restoration of critical habitats, as well as the flexibility for developers in obtaining permits from the Corps,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan.
“Protecting the environment is one of our core missions and part of the Chief of Engineers' campaign plan. This In Lieu Fee agreement contributes to accomplishing that mission," stated Colonel Charles Samaris, New England District Commander.
Eligible projects are activities authorized under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and/or Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. These in-lieu fee payments are made to the ILFP and administered by DFG.
By aggregating the fees from multiple permitted impacts, the ILFP can use the fees to develop larger compensation projects that offer greater ecological benefits than smaller permittee-conducted mitigation. This results in projects that better contribute to watershed level conservation goals. Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and New York already have Corps-approved ILFPs.
“This program will improve our efforts to protect and restore natural habitats throughout the Commonwealth, including coastal waters,” said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. “We have well-established programs in land acquisition and aquatic habitat restoration that will use funds collected through the In-Lieu Fee Program to protect and enhance ecologically important aquatic resources and wildlife habitat.”
From June 2008 to June 2013, DFG’s Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) served as the program sponsor for an ILFP established to provide mitigation for impacts to marine resources and Essential Fish Habitat in Massachusetts. Mitigation was limited to projects that altered less than one acre of aquatic resource and met the criteria for coverage under the Corps’ General Permit (GP) in Massachusetts.
The Department of Fish and Game’s three divisions—the Division of Marine Fisheries, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Division of Ecological Restoration—will implement mitigation projects that permanently protect or restore aquatic resources and upland buffers. Examples of projects include acquisition of threatened fisheries and wildlife habitats, dam removals that improve passage for fish and eel grass restoration in coastal waters.
For more information on In Lieu Fee program in New England visit the website at http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Mitigation/InLieuFeePrograms.aspx.
DFG is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.
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