Session 12: California Perspectives

a) Challenges to Implementing Mitigation on Publicly Owned Lands in Southern California

Friday, May 12
9:20 AM - 10:50 AM
Location: Room 311/312

Local governments and state agencies own a substantial amount of highly sensitive land in southern California. This is due in part to successful conservation efforts including development of Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs). Often these lands are degraded and conservation efforts are focused on preservation of uplands and monitoring species with limited to no funding for restoration, particularly in waters and wetlands. Therefore, these large swaths of lands preserved as open space are ideal for compensatory mitigation programs and are often critical for applicants and permittees to meet the watershed approach required by the EPA and USACE Compensatory Mitigation Rule. Nonetheless, from land use agreements to establishing financial securities for long-term management, it’s more complicated on publicly owned lands. Challenges include, but are not limited to, the history of the land purchase or conveyance to the public entity, the desire of the public entity to retain mitigation options for future unforeseen projects, the perception of a “gift of public funds or property”, restrictions on site protection instruments, and limitations on establishing long term funding mechanisms with a third party. Overcoming these challenges requires creativity and flexibility by all parties, including regulatory agencies, and this presentation will provide successful examples, possible solutions, and a few failed attempts.

Michelle L. Mattson

Restoration Ecologist/Compensatory Mitigation Specialist, Institute for Water Resources
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Michelle Mattson is a stream and wetland restoration ecologist with over 18 years of experience as an environmental consultant and USACE regulator. She recently joined USACE Institute for Water Resources as a subject matter expert for compensatory mitigation. Michelle has spent her career in the field conducting functional and conditional assessments, designing and installing restoration projects, and working with clients and applicants on the design, implementation, and monitoring of their compensatory mitigation projects and programs. Michelle has worked on two Special Area Managements Plans (SAMPs) and helped to develope a watershed management plan for Otay River, in San Diego, California. At the USACE, Michelle worked across agencies to help develop the first Advanced Permittee-Responsible Compensatory Mitigation Program for San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). As a consultant, she has lead the early development of advanced mitigation programs in alignment with existing and planned habitat conservation plans and new water quality regulations.


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a) Challenges to Implementing Mitigation on Publicly Owned Lands in Southern California


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