CONCORD, Mass. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District is seeking comments on three projects which have applied for funding through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (MA DFG) In-lieu Fee ("ILF") program.
The Department of Fish and Game is the sponsor of the Massachusetts ILF Program which serves as an alternative form of compensatory mitigation for aquatic resource impacts. The Massachusetts ILF program is authorized by the Corps’ New England District. A copy of the signed ILF agreement titled "Commonwealth of Massachusetts Final In-Lieu Fee Program Instrument," dated May 23, 2014, includes details about the ILF Program goals and objectives in general and can be found at the following link:
The Massachusetts ILF Program accrues funds from in-lieu fee payments made by Corps permittees as mitigation for their permitted impacts. These funds are being used for mitigation projects proposed by DFG's Divisions and programs based on the project evaluation and selection process in the Instrument. These proposed mitigation projects are for the preservation, restoration and enhancement of wetland and watercourse resources and associated upland buffers in the state of Massachusetts.
The Corps has received three applications to conduct work in waters of the U. S. from various applicants who have applied for 2019 funding under the ILF Program. The addendum to the online public notice includes fact sheets with project descriptions and locus maps for each of the three applications. They are: 1) Nemasket River Preservation Project, Middleboro, Mass., Coastal-South Service Area; 2) Town Farm Road Preservation Project, Ipswich, Mass., Coastal-North Service Area; and 3) Williams River Preservation Project, West Stockbridge, Mass., Berkshire-Taconic Service Area.
Compensatory mitigation occurs in circumstances where a permittee is required to compensate for the functions and values of aquatic resources lost as a result of the authorization after all efforts are made to avoid and minimize impacts. In-Lieu Fee is an option available to the permit applicant instead of completing permittee-responsible mitigation. Use of the In-Lieu Fee program (ILFP) is contingent upon Corps of Engineers approval. All In-Lieu Fee agreements in New England are available for review on the Corps’ website at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Mitigation.aspx.
In 2014, the Corps of Engineers approved the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to be the sponsor of the state-wide program that would provide in-lieu fee compensatory mitigation associated with Corps permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and/or Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbor Act of 1899 and related federal rule at 33 CFR Part 332 (the federal mitigation rule).
The availability of DFG’s In-Lieu Fee program allows permittees, with the Corps’ approval, to make a monetary payment in compensation for project impacts to aquatic resources of the U.S. in Massachusetts, in-lieu of on-site mitigation. When these in-lieu fee payments are made to the ILFP, DFG assumes legal responsibility for implementing the required mitigation, which it does by aggregating and expending the in-lieu payments on mitigation projects.
The Corps is soliciting comments from the public; federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties on MA DFG's proposed mitigation projects. Any comments received will be provided to the MA DFG for its review and consideration. The Corps, in consultation with MA DFG and the Interagency Review Committee, will make the final decision whether to approve the proposed mitigation projects. To make this decision, the Corps will consider comments received in response to its public notice to assess impacts of the proposed mitigation projects on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors.
The public notice, which provides the proposed project descriptions and locus maps for the three applications, can be reviewed on the Corps website at: www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx.
Public comments on the three projects applying for Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game ILF Program funds (file # NAE-2007-02926) should be forwarded no later than Feb. 14, 2019 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Joshua Helms), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Joshua Helms at 978-318-8211 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.