SYRACUSE, N.Y. – March 9, 2023 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) has received approval from the Buffalo and New York District of Army Corps of Engineers to increase the pool of wetland mitigation credits available through the New York In Lieu Fee program.
In Lieu Fee (ILF) is a mitigation approach that allows small wetland impacts from many projects to be consolidated at larger, more sustainable sites. Essentially when developers remove or damage existing wetlands under regulatory protections, they are legally obligated to replace a larger amount of wetland habitat at an alternate site. DU’s program produces wetland offsets that are verified by monitoring against performance requirements the acres must meet, and they are used to offset development project impacts through a simple credit-purchase process. This mitigation approach allows DU to focus on its mission and vision of protecting and restoring important habitats for wildlife, while providing an economical service for developers.
“It is a pretty large vote of confidence from the regulatory community to say, ‘yes, do more of what you are doing,’” said program director, Dr. Patrick Raney. “The approved program amendment increases the number of credits the program can sell to offset development pressures from 275 credits to 390, about a 70% increase.”
Through New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019, the state has agreed to limit statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 60% of 1990 levels by 2030 and 15% of 1990 levels by 2050. Much of the reductions in greenhouse gases targeted by this legislation are geared toward producing cleaner sources of energy.
New energy production and grid overhauls means that wetlands will be impacted, requiring mitigation. Deferred road and railway maintenance are also key sectors that benefit from having a predictable, economical source of mitigation. ILF is proving an effective tool to achieving ecological outcomes and contributing to a much smoother permitting process for these important industries.
DU is the largest provider of wetland mitigation credits in New York State, having protected nearly 1,500 acres through its first 11 ILF projects. Our continued work throughout the state has expanded the network of wetland habitats that are critical to wildlife, water quality, flood mitigation, and nutrient filtration.
“When mitigation is done well, it is an exceptional tool for stemming wetland loss,” Raney said. “The permitting process is geared toward keeping developments out of sensitive areas like wetlands, and then requiring offsets for unavoidable impacts. It’s important that if we’re going to require wetland mitigation offsets that the process works as smoothly as possible for the developers, and that we measure the outcomes in thousands of acres protected and restored through high-integrity projects. That is why we got to work right away when the state began enacting legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that would spur development – we spoke with the regulatory community about doing our best to get ahead of associated mitigation demand.”