In-lieu fee (ILF) programs present a desirable option to both project permittees and local resource conservation districts (RCD) for offsetting wetland impacts. An ILF program matches the permittee’s compensatory mitigation need with an RCD’s charter to be the on-the-ground leader for conservation efforts in their local community.
In-Lieu Fee Program Advantages
An ILF program can have greater ecological benefits within a watershed by siting multiple, smaller restoration projects strategically throughout the watershed, said David Wickens, Dudek regulatory specialist.
ILF programs can ultimately save money as well, Wickens said. Since they are not for profit, ILF programs are not generally required to provide costly financial assurances in the form of performance bonds, which serve as collateral if the mitigation is not satisfactory. Additionally, an ILF program generates revenue through mitigation credit sales to public agencies and landowners who need mitigation for project impacts prior to construction and completion of the restoration project.
RCDs present an ideal partner for permittees seeking to implement an ILF program due to their presence within local communities. In fact, some RCDs have already initiated the compensatory planning framework required to set up an ILF program, including:
- Identifying threats to aquatic resources in the watersheds they serve;
- Demonstrating an understanding of the historic loss of certain resources;
- Analyzing current condition of aquatic resources;
- Compiling field documentation; and
- Developing aquatic resource goals and objectives.
An ILF program offers multiple benefits to RCDs including creating a new revenue stream through the sale of mitigation credits, which is used to fund mitigation projects that benefit preserved lands and long-term land management.
David Wickens has 22 years’ professional experience as a regulatory specialist in Northern California, New Mexico, and the Midwest, and has reviewed numerous complex and controversial permit applications under the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act. For more information, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415.321.5314.