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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 4. Conservation And Natural Resources
Agency 20. Marine Resources Commission
Chapter 390. Wetlands Mitigation -- Compensation Policy

4VAC20-390-20. Policy.

In spite of the passage of the Virginia Wetlands Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in 1972, the pressures to use or develop tidal wetlands along Virginia's shoreline, have continued to accelerate as evidenced by the increasing number of permit applications being submitted. While losses are controlled by existing permit programs, data compiled by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) over the last 11 years (1993-2004) has shown a total permitted loss of 132 acres of tidal wetlands. Of these losses, most are associated with shoreline stabilization projects where each individual project may account for only a few hundred square feet of impact. Compensation for these losses has not usually been required. In fact, during the same period only 20.3 acres of mitigation have been required. Research, however has demonstrated that certain wetlands can be established or reestablished in areas where wetlands are not presently found. As such, compensation for permitted wetland losses is viewed as a means of offsetting impacts of necessary projects.

The commission, through this policy, intends to encourage, where appropriate, the compensation of all permitted tidal wetland losses, especially vegetated losses, provided all mitigative measures have been considered to avoid any impact. This should include compensation on-site, compensation within the watershed, compensation through the use of a mitigation bank as authorized by § 28.2-1308 of the Code of Virginia or through acceptance of an applicant's offer of payment to an in-lieu fee account established at the local, regional or state level and dedicated to wetland creation and restoration.

The need to compensate for all permitted wetland losses is further emphasized by the Commonwealth's commitment to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. In 2000, Virginia, as a Chesapeake Bay Program partner committed to "achieve a no-net loss of existing wetlands acreage and function in the signatories' regulatory programs." If Virginia is to meet this goal, wetland losses permitted through the tidal wetland regulatory program, no matter how small, must be replaced.

Statutory Authority

§§ 28.2-103 and 28.2-1301 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR450-01-0051 § 2, Virginia Register Volume 5, Issue 20, eff. August 2, 1989; amended, Virginia Register Volume 21, Issue 22, eff. July 1, 2005.

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