Nationwide Evaluation of Transfer of Compensatory Wetland Creation Sites for Transportation Projects to Private Conservation Organizations or Government Conservation Agencies
Research Idea Scope
Selected for NCHRP 25-25 funding as Task 75. May 2013 Update: Completed August 2012.
To satisfy regulatory requirements of no net loss of wetlands, state transportation agencies develop mitigation sites that require long term management and ownership. Management of compensatory mitigation sites can divert the primary focus from maintenance and operation of the transportation system to include land management for ecological benefit and fish and wildlife habitat. Often this effort may not be in the best use of transportation agency resources and would be better suited to organizations with the manpower, mission and expertise to provide long term management of mitigation sites.
This research would be a resource for transportation agencies to initiate discussions with permit agencies about the transfer of ownership for transportation related mitigation sites. This research would compile best practices and case studies related to the existing process for transfer of ownership of mitigation sites to private conservation organizations or government conservation agencies. Based on the collection of best practices a recommended decision making framework would be developed to assist transportation agencies undertaking the process of the transfer of transportation mitigation sites that involve compensation wetland mitigation sites. Transfer of ownership of successful sites would potentially reduce the expenditure of funds by state transportation agencies in the area of long term maintenance and also provide a benefit regarding the maintenance of these sites.
This research would explore the processes and procedures that have been proven successful in property transfer of compensatory wetland mitigation sites to private conservation organizations or government conservation agencies. The research would involve collection of information from each of the fifty-two state Departments of Transportation about if they have transferred the maintenance of mitigation sites to conservation organization or government conservation agencies and the process and procedures that were used to successfully complete the transfer. The survey would include the collection of the following information: how to find willing parties, how state DOTs partner with other organizations/agencies, the terms of agreements, overcoming legal challenges and how to develop formulas used to determine financial compensation of taking on the long term responsibilities.
Task 1: Develop and distribute an electronic survey to the state Departments of Transportation to collect best practices and case studies related to successful attempts by the DOT to transfer ownership of compensatory wetland mitigation sites to private conservation agencies or government conservation agencies. The survey would collected information such as: how to find willing parties, how state DOTs partner with other organizations/agencies, the terms of agreements, overcoming legal challenges and how to develop formulas used to determine financial compensation of taking on the long term responsibilities.
Task 2: As a follow up to the electronic survey conduct a thorough follow up interview with select DOTs and their partners. Gain input from the partners regarding the successes and challenges of completing the transfer of the mitigation site. Where there any necessary incentives required completing the agreement? How would the partner agency improve the process? Would they partner again in the future?
Task 3: Bases on the collection of case studies and follow up interviews develop a compendium of best practices used by transportation agencies.
Task 4: As a result of the collection of best practices tease out the most successful portions of the processes. Develop a resource tool for state DOTs to utilize when attempting to partner on the transfer of mitigation sites. The recommended decision making framework should provide suggest means for DOTs to finding willing parties, suggested terms of the agreement, how to avoid legal pitfalls and how to develop formulas to justify fair compensation.
Task 5: Hold a webinar for transportation and environmental practitioners to highlight state DOT best practices and details on how to implement the decision making framework.
Robert Eppley, Pennsylvania Department of Transporation, Telephone: (610) 205-6713; Frannie Brindle, Chair Natural Systems and Ecological Communities Subcommittee