Compliance with wetland mitigation standards in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA

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The United States has lost about half its wetland acreage since European settlement, and the effectiveness of current wetland mitigation policies is often questioned. In most states, federal wetland laws are overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but Michigan administers these laws through the state's Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). Our research provides insight into the effectiveness of the state's implementation of these laws. We examined wetland mitigation permit files issued in Michigan's Upper Peninsula between 2003 and 2006 to assess compliance with key MDEQ policies. Forty-six percent of files were out of compliance with monitoring report requirements, and forty-nine percent lacked required conservation easement documents. We also conducted site assessments of select compensatory wetland projects to determine compliance with MDEQ invasive plant species performance standards. Fifty-five percent were out of compliance. We found no relationship between invasive species noncompliance and past site monitoring, age of mitigation site, or proximity to roads. However, we found wetland restoration projects far more likely to be compliant with performance standards than wetland creation projects. We suggest policy changes and agency actions that could increase compliance with wetland restoration and mitigation goals. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

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Environmental Management