CONCORD, Mass. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District is seeking comments on modifications proposed by the state to 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 site: https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Mitigation/In-Lieu-Fee-Programs/.
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 https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Mitigation/In-Lieu-Fee-Programs/.
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 objective of this proposal is to provide small scale eelgrass restoration by identifying and planting eelgrass across three coastal areas. The success of the small scale restoration will then be utilized for further large scale eelgrass restoration. The prospectus for the project is included with the public notice which is on the Corps website.
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 modifications to the ILF program. 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 modifications. To make this decision, the Corps will consider comments received in response to its public notice to assess impacts of the proposed modifications on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors.
The public notice, which provides more information on the proposed modifications to the MA DFG ILF program, can be reviewed on the Corps website at: https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/PublicNotices/.
Public comments on the proposed modifications to the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game ILF Program (file # NAE-2007-02926) should be forwarded no later than April 16, 2020 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Ruthann Brien), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Ruthann Brien at 978-318-8054 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.