USFWS Mitigation Policy

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On November 18, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced a final revised Mitigation Policy that will guide its review of potential impacts of land and water development projects on America’s wildlife and their habitats.

The policy will be used by USFWS to help others mitigate (avoid, minimize and compensate) for a project’s impacts to species and their habitats.

The revisions implement a recent Presidential Memorandum directing certain federal agencies to adopt a common set of best practices to minimize the harmful impacts to wildlife and other ecological resources caused by land- or water-disturbing activities, and to ensure that any remaining harmful effects are appropriately addressed or mitigated. The revisions also implement a recent Secretarial Order on improving mitigation policies and practices within the Department of the Interior.

The revised policy is intended to be a single umbrella policy under which more detailed agency policies or guidance documents covering specific activities may be issued in the future. It expands the focus of mitigation to address larger-scale stresses such as climate change and invasive species that can work in tandem with development to adversely affect wildlife.

The policy applies to all authorities under which USFWS can make mitigation recommendations, including the agency’s authority to protect species listed under the Endangered Species Act, which was excluded from the 1981 policy.

It also establishes a goal of achieving a net conservation gain, or at a minimum, no net loss, when recommending project mitigation, whenever the situation merits and doing so is allowed by law.

The revised policy establishes a new approach that will promote the most effective and efficient mitigation measures to be implemented across the landscape. This will require improved collaboration and coordination between all interested parties and effective integration of mitigation planning and landscape-level conservation strategies.

The revised policy will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register on November 21, 2016.

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source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service