USACE Regulatory: Protect, Restore, Maintain

By Jay Townsend

Twenty-three-thousand linear feet of a natural Texas stream, impacted by decades of unlimited cattle access, has been restored and turned into a mitigation bank for unavoidable wetland loss in the future.

The Mill Branch Mitigation Stream Bank is located in northwest Denton County, Texas. The bank is a 90-acre site located in a larger 720-acre working ranch.

Mill Branch stream and vegetation.
Mill Branch stream and vegetation.

Mitigation banks are wetlands, streams, or other aquatic resource areas that are protected, restored and maintained to provide compensation for unavoidable impacts to aquatic resources permitted under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

Each year thousands of property owners take on commercial and private projects that affect the nation’s aquatic resources. In order to alleviate the unavoidable loss of waters of the United States a Corps permit may require a property owner to restore, establish, enhance or preserve other aquatic resources in order to replace those impacted by the proposed project.

Brig. Gen. Hill looks over before and after images of the Mill Branch Stream Bank restoration.
Brig. Gen. Hill looks over before and after images of the Mill Branch Stream Bank restoration.

Mitigation banks are attractive for permit holders that would otherwise be responsible for the long-term design, restoration and protection of the site.

Stream mitigation banks appeal to the Corps and other agencies charged with protecting aquatic resources because they provide larger mitigation areas with greater benefits to the local ecosystem and habitat, opposed to small mitigation plots that don’t connect.

USACE Galveston District to host Stakeholder Partnering Forum

GALVESTON, Texas (July 26, 2016) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District will host a one-day Stakeholder Partnering Forum Aug. 4, 2016, from 10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., to introduce the district’s new commanding officer, Col. Lars Zetterstrom, to participants; address Texas Ports Association priorities for working with USACE staff; review USACE business processes for non-federal use of federal placement areas and lands as well as non-federal modifications to USACE projects and discuss Southeast Texas Flood Risk Management partnering successes, challenges and opportunities during the 2015-2016 floods. State Rep. Wayne Faircloth, District 23, will provide the keynote address: Building coalitions across the public and private sectors to support coastal storm risk management in Texas for sustaining national security and economics.

“This forum provides us with an opportunity to meet with non-federal sponsors, customers and agency partners to collaborate and gather feedback that will help us make better informed decisions as we work together on shared efforts for assessing and improving integrated watershed management as well as examine current challenges along the Texas coast,” said Col. Lars Zetterstrom, USACE Galveston District commander. “Our breakout workshops and seminars will provide the latest information about our programs, projects, business processes and capabilities.”

 

The forum will identify opportunities to better synchronize and integrate the district’s support of stakeholder commitments and emerging interests such as: the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration and Houston Ship Channel Improvement mega studies; and the Sabine Neches Waterway Project and Jefferson County ecosystem restoration feasibility study; and modernizing the Brazos River Floodgates and Colorado River Locks.

 

“Our Stakeholder Partnering Forum provides an important opportunity for agencies to foster effective working relationships and better understand the unique programs, processes, and capabilities of the USACE Galveston District in order to improve coordination that will facilitate and expedite the navigational safety and efficiency of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, an economic engine for the state and nation,” said Dr. Edmond Russo, USACE Galveston District’s deputy district engineer for programs and project management. “The partnering forum will provide an excellent venue to interface with our customers face to face to address their interests, issues, and concerns and to provide an explanation on how policies and authorities support management of customer priorities in studies, new work construction, and the operations and maintenance programs.”

Early bird special topic seminars will be offered on calculating economics for flood risk management and navigation business line studies and projects. Registration will be open for the main event from 9-10 a.m., coupled with a networking coffee social that will showcase a new visual and interactive capability for exploring coastal resiliency with the Community Health And Resource Management Tool by Texas A&M Agrilife Extension. Additional resources are posted online at:

 

 

Non-federal sponsors and agency representatives are encouraged to contact Dr. Russo at Edmond.J.Russo@usace.army.mil for additional information and to sign up to attend this forum.

The USACE Galveston District was established in 1880 as the first engineer district in Texas to oversee river and harbor improvements. The district is directly responsible for maintaining more than 1,000 miles of channel, including 250 miles of deep draft and 750 miles of shallow draft as well as the Colorado River Locks and Brazos River Floodgates. Its main missions include navigation, ecosystem restoration, emergency management, flood risk management and regulatory oversight. The Corps also supports a robust Regulatory Program that interacts with the local community through a variety of public outreach opportunities.

 

For more news and information, visit www.swg.usace.army.mil. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.