What about wetlands? A guidebook for navigating wetland mitigation tailored for Airports

Posted in: Aviation, Environmental

“For every authorized discharge, the adverse impacts to wetlands, streams and other aquatic resources must be avoided and minimized to the extent practicable. For unavoidable impacts, compensatory mitigation is required to replace the loss of wetland and aquatic resource functions in the watershed.”
– U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

forest of trees and wetlandsThe Transportation Research Board Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) recently published Report 198: Wetland Mitigation Volume 2: A Guidebook for Airports (Report 198) and its companion Wetland Mitigation A Guidebook for Airports: Executive Summary (Executive Summary). Mead & Hunt, together with The Smart Associates and Environmental Resource Solutions, completed the project research and drafted these two companion documents.

These resources are designed to give airports comprehensive information on how to determine if wetland mitigation is necessary, what kinds of mitigation are available, and where to look for more information. Wetlands are valuable parts of our ecosystem, existing as habitats for fish and wildlife, protecting water quality, and preventing erosion, among various other functions.

Any action that has the potential to negatively affect federal or state wetlands or Waters of the United States (WOTUS) requires an evaluation of wetland impacts. This could then require wetland mitigation to offset the loss. Proposed development projects affecting wetlands that take place at or near airports require more complex mitigation strategies as additional constraints, such as wildlife attracted to wetland areas, can pose hazards to aircraft operations.

Three types of compensatory mitigation are options to offset adverse impacts to wetlands and WOTUS: permittee-responsible, bank credits, and in-lieu-fee. Six detailed case studies in Report 198 Volume 2 present interesting summaries of these various types of mitigation in action, discussing the results of the mitigation efforts and the unique aspects of each case including engineering issues, costs and funding.

The Executive Summary is an excellent resource presenting a high-level look at this complex topic. For those who wish to dive more deeply into the subject, Report 198 covers the information necessary to initiate and carry out a mitigation process:

  • Regulatory Issues
  • Wetland Identification and Impacts
  • Mitigation Types
  • Constraints
  • Engineering and Design Issues
  • Costs and Funding
  • Public Outreach and Stakeholder Involvement
  • Case Studies

The goal of this research project is to help airports of all sizes more effectively evaluate how to address wetland mitigation. While it can be easy to feel bogged down in light of the vast and complex regulations at local, state, and federal government levels, we at Mead & Hunt are dedicated to applying our collective wetland and mitigation knowledge and experience to meet client needs. It is a careful balance, but in this manner, adverse effects to our vital wetlands can be offset while still moving forward with airport development.

Laura Morland, PE

About the Author

As Environmental Practice Leader, Laura Morland, P.E., gets involved with a variety of projects. She enjoys the collaborative nature of the environmental practice, which involves clients, stakeholders and  environmental specialists in developing solutions. “I like having a chance to apply lessons-learned to new projects and situations.” In her spare time, she enjoys reading and working in her woods and prairie.


Read more posts by Laura Morland, PE

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