RELATED ECOLOGY PROGRAMS
Wetland Mitigation Banks, Chapter 173-700 WAC
The Department of Ecology (Ecology) adopted a rule for wetland mitigation banks. The rule was filed in the State Register on September 3, 2009, WSR 09-19-013. The purpose of the rule is to provide an efficient, predictable framework to certify, operate, and monitor wetland mitigation banks (banks) across the state. Current mitigation sequencing practices of avoidance, minimization, and compensation still apply. The wetland mitigation bank rule (WAC 173-700) focuses on procedures for certifying banks as well as their implementation process. Essentially, the rule adds another tool to the regulatory toolbox for protecting wetlands.
Background Information on the Rule
Rule Adoption Process
The proposed rule was published for public review and comment in the Washington State Register on March 18, 2009. Ecology also issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) under the State Environmental Policy Act, a Small Business Economic Impact Statement (SBEIS), and a Preliminary Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) as part of the public comment process.
Ecology reviewed all of the comments received during the public comment period. The agency's responses to those comments are published in a Concise Explanatory Statement (CES) and as part of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).
Rule Development Process
Ecology used a negotiated rule process to begin the rule process in 1999. A negotiated rule group was formed. The group played a pivotal role by adding diverse viewpoints from local, state, and federal agencies; environmental interests; private bank developers; agricultural concerns; and businesses. The group helped develop the initial negotiated draft rule text. Unfortunately, this first draft rule was withdrawn due to budget cuts in June 2001.
In 2004, the state legislature authorized the wetland mitigation banking program to test that negotiated rule text through a pilot program; under the Administrative Procedures Act (Chapter 34.05 RCW), an agency may test a rule before it is formally adopted. The pilot program focused on essentially two processes:
During the testing of the pilot program, an advisors group was formed. The members included local, state, and federal agencies; environmental interests; private bank developers; agricultural interests; and businesses. During the pilot program, the advisors group analyzed the negotiated draft rule text and how it was working and being implemented by the pilot projects. The group worked together for over a year and identified necessary revisions. The proposed rule text was published for public comments in April 2009. MORE on the pilot program
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