Wetlands mitigation bill to pass out of committee with edits

January 25th, 2012  |  Published in HB 2388

HB 2238 (Regarding wetlands mitigation) received a due pass vote in the House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources yesterday. The bill report from the committee indicates that it will pass with some edits.

The differences from the original bill are described below, from the report (pdf file):

A new wetland mitigation option is created for the proponents of projects that reduce existing
wetland function. This option is the agreement to provide a monetary payment to a specific
state program that enhances or preserves riparian and aquatic resources. The programs that
are eligible to receive monetary payments in exchange for wetland mitigation credits are the
Forestry Riparian Easement Program, cost assistance for small forest landowners to repair
forest roads, riparian and open space conservation easements, and incentives to promote
landowner conservation measures.

The exercise of this option, like all mitigation plans, must be agreed to and approved by the
Department of Ecology or other appropriate agency responsible for environmental
management. The agreement and approval process must include commitments as to which
program will be funded, the appropriate funding level commitment, and how the funds will
be ultimately used by the selected program. This negotiation process must occur between the
project proponent and the approving agency; however, the Forest Practices Board and any
other relevant state or federal agency must be consulted in an attempt to match the funding
with an appropriate project within the selected state program.

Substitute Bill Compared to Original Bill:

The original bill created a new account, managed by the Forest Practices Board (Board), in
which mitigation payments would be deposited. The Board would have been responsible for
matching the payments with the selected state programs absent input from the project
sponsor or the agency responsible for approving the mitigation plan. The original bill also
allowed other, unnamed state programs to be considered for mitigation payments. The
substitute bill limits the programs to a specific list.

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