Capstone Title

Freshwater Wetlands Compensatory Mitigation: Is "No-Net-Loss" a Reality?

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Richard E. Dodge

Second Advisor

Stacy Myers

Third Advisor

Katherine Fanning


This review was conducted to determine the success of compensatory mitigation in freshwater wetland permitting programs throughout the United States, which affects the net gain or loss of wetland habitat in this country. Ten published reports from various environmental agencies regarding the success of compensatory mitigation programs, were analyzed and the results compared to one permitted mitigation site in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Compliance with all permit conditions regarding mitigation ranged from 3% to 60% in the agency reports. Only between 6% to 50% of the permitted mitigation projects in these reports achieved all of the success criteria, thereby replacing lost wetland functions. Similarly, the permitted mitigation site in Miami-Dade County experienced problems meeting the required success criteria. Such results indicate that the national "no-net-loss" policy for freshwater wetlands is not being met and that the U.S. is continuing to experience wetland losses. Suggestions for improving the current wetland regulatory permitting process include: considering the permit applicant's previous compliance record prior to permit issuance, requiring financial guarantees for mitigation success and maintenance, requiring clear goals and performance criterion in permits, better enforcement of permit/mitigation conditions, initiating prompt enforcement action and appropriate penalties for non-compliance, providing adequate staff to perform mitigation compliance work, shifting agency resources to mitigation monitoring, and considering the use of mitigation banks when on-site mitigation is not feasible.

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