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Questions and Discussion Topics from
“Avoid-Minimize-Compensate Through Integrated Shoreline Management” Meeting, Williamsburg, VA
March 10, 2006

Sponsored by Center for Coastal Resources Management,
Virginia Institute of Marine Science


The following are questions and discussion topics submitted by participants at the Spring 2006 workshop titled "Avoid-Minimize-Compensate Through Integrated Shoreline Management" held on the campus of the College of William and Mary. The panel discussion about the Tidal Wetlands Compensation/Mitigation policy was not recorded and not all of these issues were addressed, so we are making them available on our website for those interested in discussing them via the Wetlands Board Forum at .

These questions and topics were transcribed directly from submitted forms and may not include all of the issues raised during the panel discussion.


I. No Net Loss Policy

  1. Are there guidelines for compensating for the loss of wetlands due to development? What is considered an acceptable compensation ratio?
  2. Are mitigation banks saleable items in no net loss projects?
  3. How does the wetlands board ensure that the applicant has fulfilled their compensation requirement?
  4. Should we require compensation for nonvegetated as well as vegetated wetlands? If not, why not?
  5. What is the preferred sequence of compensation alternatives?
  6. Can performance bonds be used and who has the legal authority to assess? Could these be instruments to ensure perpetuity of mitigation?
  7. Please provide an explanation as to specific requirements of each county of no net loss obligations.
  8. “No net loss is an unreasonable goal.”

II. Legal Issues

  1. In VMRC policy change it is written, “suggests local boards require compensation for all permitted tidal wetlands losses.” Nowhere does it say, “shall.” Provide documentation clarifying should vs. shall.
  2. Seaside vs. bayside (Chesapeake Bay). Should policy apply to seaside of Virginia Beach and Eastern Shore?
  3. Can we require what type of structure (bulkhead vs. riprap) is actually built? The Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code provides that localities cannot dictate (or restrict) use of products or materials that meet standards.
  4. If wetlands boards are charged with the responsibility (of making decisions), why question or review their decision if they feel they have adequately reviewed applications and made a sound decision?
  5. What restrictions are there for use of funds? Can they be used for creation of public water access?
  6. What options do property owners have if they do not possess any land for mitigation of a wetland loss and the locality has no access to a mitigation bank or an in-lieu fee fund and site conditions are not conducive to a living shoreline (steep slope with highly erodible soil?)
  7. Does state law require local wetlands board to require compensation for all wetlands impacts?
  8. In a small jurisdiction with no mitigation banks, no on or off site opportunities for wetland creation and no fund to take in-lieu fees, how does the local wetlands board enforce compensation policy?
  9. “Legal protections to laud owners should be addressed by you.”
  10. Is the new policy guidance or regulation? In other words, are localities required to implement it or is it optional?
  11. Are the wetlands boards that have little or no support from professional staff getting the legs they need to effectively implement the new policy?
  12. How can wetlands boards be prevented from ignoring or only selectively applying the new policy?
  13. “Basis for policy – why do you need the local boards?”

III. In-Lieu Fees

  1. How do we establish in-lieu fees and what are they used for?
  2. Do wetlands boards have the legal authority to establish in-lieu fee accounts?
  3. Does a locality need plans for money prior to accepting in-lieu fees?
  4. What is the basis for the fee rate and how is value established?
  5. Why doesn't the state have an in-lieu of fund for wetlands losses to meet the state goal of no net loss policy?
  6. In lieu fees – what are the recommended formulas? What formulas do other localities use?
  7. When a board of supervisors chooses not to adopt/establish in-lieu fees for a county, what are options, plan of action?
  8. Since in-lieu fees are indeed, fees, no local governments have to change ordinances, have public hearing, etc. prior to initiating them?
  9. How can we assist in the establishment of in-lieu fee programs in localities?
  10. How much money is currently in the USCOE in-lieu fee fund?
  11. What government budget or accounting rules and procedures are relevant for taking and managing in-lieu fees? Our board can't manage money.
  12. Where in a local government can funds be held until a mitigation/restoration project is available?
  13. What can we require of an applicant if he/she has no place to mitigate and there is no tidal wetlands bank? What counts – does not count as wetlands (1) restoration and (2) creation?

IV. Tidal Wetland Creation

  1. In cases where a landowner creates a living shoreline, can the newly created wetland fringe be used as a wetland credit for impacts elsewhere?
  2. What is the timeline until a restored or created wetlands is viable?
  3. What are the monitoring parameters (what animals are used)?
  4. Is erosion a problem on properties adjacent to an area with a sill and associated sand fill?
  5. What is the ideal location for marsh creation in order to prevent adjacent erosion?
  6. How can the process of creating tidal wetlands for erosion control be changed so as to include VIMS and others at the beginning of planning rather than at the end?
  7. What are the recommended segmented sill gap widths?
  8. Are there recycled materials or aggregate that are recommended for tidal wetland creation?
  9. Why should phragmites be considered the same as “native” wetlands when the state/conservation groups are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove them?
  10. Should manmade canals be considered the same as “undisturbed” shorelines? Should replacement bulkheads be considered the same as a new bulkhead in an “undisturbed” shoreline?
  11. Many VA waterfront/nonwaterfront residents are not familiar with tidal wetland conditions or integrated coastal management or the effects on overall water quality. What is planned for public forum to acquaint the general public in the importance of protecting these natural resources?
  12. Are fiber logs still used? Is the old type of bulkhead “punching” still used and if permitted how does it differ from today's bulkhead?
  13. Are there differences in business vs. residence permitting?
  14. What consideration is being given to the constant rise (now accelerated) in sea level?
  15. Since hurricanes cause most erosion well above MHW, what is the plan to include these forces or events?
  16. Would like to learn more about channelward expansion of marsh (sand fill and marsh planting) and sea level rise.
  17. Would like to learn more about site-specific structures that have gaps in them. Will the gaps ultimately need protection due to flanking?
  18. If a property owner creates wetlands or wet-regulates a non-vegetated area, should staff or wetlands boards monitor them for 5 years? 2 years?
  19. Can “living shorelines” projects be exempted from wetland permit requirements if there is no “hardening” proposed (just fiber logs and planting – with or without fill)?
  20. What is the total annual wetlands loss in Virginia – tidal and nontidal, tidal by development, tidal/natural by wave action, wind, and sea level?
  21. Do mitigation banks and wetlands created with in-lieu fees have to be in the same watershed as the impacted wetlands?
  22. How are localities spending (or how do they intend to spend) in-lieu fees to provide compensation?

V. Mitigation Banking

  1. What are the monitoring requirements going to look like for tidal wetlands banks?
  2. How do we establish mitigation banks?
  3. How do we monitor/handle on-site mitigation to ensure they work?
  4. How do we compensate if a locality has no mitigation banks or established in-lieu fees?
  5. What is the success rate of wetlands mitigation banks in Virginia?
  6. What are the advantages/disadvantages of public mitigation banks vs. private mitigation banks?
  7. How do we really know mitigation banks are really working and how do we measure effectiveness?
  8. How do we ensure perpetuity? What kinds of safeguards are required to assure that future community boards do not sacrifice the integrity of a mitigation bank?
  9. How do we monitor mitigation/compensation? What must be included in a monitoring plan?
  10. What are the recommended mitigation ratios for localities (urban vs. rural localities)?
  11. What are the recommended mitigation ratios for non-vegetated wetlands?
  12. What is the probability of successful small-scale mitigation (on-site) vs. a higher probability of larger banked sites being successful?
  13. If no mitigation bank is established in a county, what are the recommendations?
  14. Would like to know about costs and timeliness and contractor expertise relative to on-site mitigation.
  15. Should riprapping be considered wetland creation?
  16. Is shore stabilization valuable to waterways? If so, should the impact be a credit to offset wetland mitigation/compensation?
  17. What are the regulatory requirements in VA with regards to clean fill in wetlands creation? Specifically, are there any such soil parameters for creating mitigation banks?
  18. Would like to see more practical applications.
  19. How can we get past the “territorial” issues, which seem to prevent some localities from using mitigation banks in their watershed but not their political boundaries?
  20. Is there opportunity for use of tidal mitigation bank credits on a watershed wide basis not hindered by jurisdictional boundaries, or is the political climate such that each local wetland board is protecting their own resources?
  21. Who can create wetlands banks – where do we go on information for this?

VI. New Policy/Other Information

  1. What is the oversight process for ensuring boards correctly implement new policies?
  2. Explain VMRC process including advertising and public notices that lead to this policy change
  3. What can homeowners do in terms of taking down trees, bushes? Is there any publications or informational websites for my neighbors on wetlands (land-owners) to educate on leaving the leaf litter and natural vegetation (instead of planting lawns) and not cutting wetland grasses?
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