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The Next Generation of Mitigation: Advancing Conservation Through Landscape-Level Mitigation

January 2010

Citation: 40 ELR 10023

Issue: 1

Author: Jessica B. Wilkinson and Robert Bendick

Editors' Summary:

In coming years, the United States will experience significant loss of natural habitats due to population growth, infrastructure and energy development, and climate change. These trends will significantly impact natural systems, which provide habitat for plant and animal species and support the resources and processes that underpin human well-being. A more comprehensive approach to mitigation can effectively reduce and offset this damage and support significant conservation outcomes. Three fundamental changes are needed to advance this vision. First, existing, expanded, and future regulatory authorities must consistently and rigorously apply the mitigation protocol (avoid, minimize, compensate) to activities that will impact wildlife habitat. Second, federal conservation plans, such as State Wildlife Action Plans, fisheries and forest plans, and Endangered Species Recovery Plans, as well as regional plans should serve as the framework for the application of the mitigation protocol. Finally, compensatory mitigation expenditures should be prioritized based on landscape and watershed-scale planning.

Jessica Wilkinson is a Senior Policy Analyst and Director of the Wetlands Programs at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C. Bob Bendick is Director of U.S. Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy.

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