Authorities agree to new wetland mitigation guidelines in Alaska

Aerial view of wetlands surrounding Newtok, Alaska in July 2015. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have beefed up their guidelines for wetlands mitigation in Alaska, elaborating on ways a developer can compensate for disturbing bogs, ponds and streams.

The idea of mitigation is that developers are permitted to fill a wetland if they restore or protect a similar property nearby. But mitigation is challenging in Alaska, where much of the state is considered a wetland and opportunities to restore private land in the area may be scarce.

Energy & Environment News reviewed wetlands permits in Alaska going back to 2015 and found the Corps had only required mitigation 26 percent of the time.

What the agreement says

The new agreement between the federal agencies says the mitigation can be farther afield from the construction project and may be on public land. It also allows “out of kind” mitigation, meaning that the project may involve filling a wetland, but the mitigation for it could be the restoration of a stream.

It’s unclear whether the guidelines will result in more mitigation projects in Alaska, but E&E News says it seems to take aim at several of the justifications the Corps used to conclude mitigation was not required for particular permits.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada wants to up collaboration with First Nations, Inuit, Métis on national parks, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland expecting less blue-green algae blooms than in previous years, YLE News

Norway: Beauty spot in Arctic Norway set to become Barents oil terminal, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia adds small Arctic island to large national park, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: High-tech lasers to help Sweden build detailed maps of all its forests, Radio Sweden

United States: US Gov preparing for oil exploration in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska Public Media

Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media

For more news from Alaska visit Alaska Public Media.

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