The Raleigh News Observer http://www.newsobserver.com/  notes a recent round of layoffs in the state’s Ecosystem Enhancement Program (NCEEP) resulting from legislative changes leveled in 2011 intended to fix the failing program.  Read Story via http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/03/14/3703089/denr-cuts-jobs-in-wetlands-restoration.html

While concern lingers regarding private mitigation banking efforts currently underway within the state, the expensive, spectacular failures of NCEEP point out the ineffectual concept of paying fees in lieu of actual mitigation.  For those who care about the environment, importantly what failed for North Carolina was appropriate ecological offset under the Clean Water Act -offset for some impacts to streams and wetlands incurred long ago.

This is far from the first In-Lieu Fee (ILF) program failure. In mid-2013, some 35 ILFs in the U.S. were still non-compliant according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).   Despite this consistent pattern of failure in achieving ‘no net loss’ of the nation’s wetlands, there are a handful of these ILF’s under development in the U.S. today.

For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, USEPA and others, the 2008 Mitigation Rule created a needed rationale for selecting from available mitigation alternatives, placing advanced compensatory mitigation at the top of its hierarchy.  Part of this consideration had to do with the issue of temporal loss of resource function or quality under other types of mitigation.

Advance mitigation (by proven, successful ecological restoration projects) creates needed offsets in advance of the environmental impact being permitted.  These mitigation banks create offsets (known as mitigation credits) and without taxing government with the restoration costs or risks.  They create permanent, lasting conservation.

The state of North Carolina has taken critical actions to ‘turn the ship around’ and is working to bring its mitigation ledgers into much-needed balance.  But NCEEP remains a cautionary tale for other states currently taking risks and incurring costs to run their own programs.  Compensatory mitigation needs can very often be served by private investment in successful restoration.

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Graphic courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

Graphic courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

In Conservation Magazine’s recent good read, “Point of No Return: Why Aren’t Fish Populations Recovering?” author Natasha Loder examines why fishery management policies may have resulted in an insurmountable “Darwinian Debt.”

In the 1940s, cod in the northeast Arctic had an average size of 95 cm. Today they average only 65 cm. And average size and age of fish at maturation have been decreasing for decades in many commercially exploited fish stocks. Size limits may be the culprit.

A controlled, peer-reviewed study published in the journal Science in 2002, turned conventional thinking about fisheries management on its head.
“In most commercial fisheries, fish are removed on the basis of size. There are minimum, not maximum, size limits. But the study’s results show that this approach may have results that are exactly the opposite of what is intended. Within only four generations, taking out larger fish produced a smaller and less fertile population that also converted food into flesh less efficiently,” writes Loder.

Read more: http://conservationmagazine.org/2008/07/point-of-no-return/?utm_source=Conservation+Magazine&utm_campaign=7582ac4c87-This_Week_s_Good_Read_Nov+30_2013_10_19_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d0cc46f2ab-7582ac4c87-294168197

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Water FootprintThe Water Footprint Assessment Tool provides clear insight into how water is appropriated for human uses and the impacts resulting from those uses. It offers an easy way to calculate and map the water footprint, assess its sustainability and identify strategic actions to improve the sustainability, efficiency and equitability of water use.  If you live in the United States and you are a meat eater, you probably have a high water footprint.

Use the calculator and find out!
Read more:  http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=cal/WaterFootprintCalculator

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“There are two great joys in life: the tilling of the land, and the cultivation of character. One anchors us and one elevates us,” said conservation capitalist Chandler Van Voorhis late last year at TEDxCharlottesville.

Chandler Van Voorhis is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of GreenTrees, which plants, grows, and sells permanent forests. He is working to make sure people see what he sees: carbon, water, habitat, air filtration, and soil building mulch – all of the valuable ecological services a tree provides while it is a living part of the ecosystem.

Quipping that his family calls him “The Lorax with a Calculator,” Van Voorhis discusses the evolution of conservation in America from the notion of using our resources wisely, to conservation as a national duty, and now, to an ecosystem marketplace where we attach price and value to nature’s assets.

 

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Arizona Canal Photo courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Arizona Canal photo courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

It wasn’t so long ago that the job of a sustainability executive was to make a company more “green” or “eco-friendly.”

But as GreenBiz.com producer Joel Makower points out in a recent blog post things are changing.

“Risk and resilience haven’t typically been part of most companies’ sustainability vocabularies,” writes Makower, “But Mother Nature’s fury is changing that, as droughts, floods, hurricanes and wildfires disrupt companies and their supply chains.”

Hurricane Sandy, so close to a huge metropolitan area, was a huge wake up call to the kind of disruption a major weather event can cause. But Sandy was far from the only weather event that upended business and society. Among the worldwide increase in extreme weather, the most obvious areas of vulnerability are food, fuel and water.

When we started Trout Headwaters nearly 20 years ago “climate change” was just coming to the fore.  The frequency with which we now see extreme weather events has infused our company with a renewed sense of urgency.

Nature offers us a most effective protection against weather extremes, if we would only recognize these protections.  Marshes, wetlands, and riparian buffers naturally protect against wind and water erosion, flooding, and drought.  These margins between land and water serve as barriers, sponges and filters to regulate water levels and filter pollutants.  But we have to take care of them, so they can take care of us.

Businesses, which think regularly about risk mitigation, are just beginning to think about climate change and resource constraints like other business risks.  “Keeping an eye on this is becoming part of the job of a growing handful of sustainability executives in global companies,” writes Makower… As the World Economic Forum wrote in a paper, “Global Risks 2012,” “rising greenhouse gas emissions” and the “failure of climate change adaptation” are in the same risk quadrant as food shortages and terrorism.”

Read more: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/02/25/state-green-business-sustainability-becomes-matter-risk-and-resilience

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state of green biz report cover“State of Green Business” is Greenbiz.com’s seventh annual assessment of corporate sustainability trends and metrics. In the free report (download here), Greenbiz identifies the 10 Top Sustainable Business Trends of 2014.

Toppping the list in the 108-page document is “Collaboration Becomes an Accelerator.” Rather than reinventing the wheel on every issue, collaboration can address systemic challenges more easily and quickly. At No. 2 is “Chemical Transparency” and at No. 3 is “Water Rises as a Risk Factor.”

“Companies, communities and countries are coming to recognize that water is increasingly being paired with the words “crisis” or “risk,” states the report. Climactic shifts causing more common storms, floods, and drought, along with growth of consumption, are driving the rise in risk.

Read more: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/01/21/state-green-business-2014

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THI-TCN photo 1

The Corps Network is working with Trout Headwaters, Inc. on a new training program to put “Waders in the Water.” THI president Michael Sprague (pictured) says his company is looking forward to readying America’s youth and veterans for work along our waterways. Photo credit: Trout Headwaters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 22, 2014—America’s Service and Conservation Corps have always been known for training a ready and able workforce of Americans, but today’s Corpsmembers will not only provide “Boots on the Ground,” they will also soon have “Waders in the Water.”

Thanks to a new public-private partnership between The Corps Network and Trout Headwaters, Inc., a national innovator in restoring the protective qualities of streams, rivers and wetlands, members of The Corps Network will gain enhanced capacity to complete aquatic restoration projects. Simultaneously Corpsmembers will obtain industry-recognized credentials and additional pathways to a conservation career—all while improving the health, beauty, and climate-resiliency of our public streams, rivers, and wetlands.  Functioning and healthy floodplains, wetlands, and marshes reduce flooding, storm damage, protect infrastructure, and improve water quality and quantity.

Trout Headwaters, Inc. will work with The Corps Network to develop projects and train Corpsmembers, whose 127 member Corps programs engage 27,000 young people and veterans in all states and the District of Columbia.  The partnership, and its nationwide opportunities for workforce development and learning, will be formally announced at The Corps Network 2014 National Conference to be held February 9 – 12, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

“Thanks to the expertise of Trout Headwaters, Inc., Corpsmembers will have another vehicle to obtain valuable experience and industry-recognized credentials while working directly on projects that help conserve and protect waterways, lakes, parks, and other important resources for current and future generations. In addition, it will help us fulfill the goal of the recently-launched 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, which aims to have 100,000 young people and veterans working to improve public lands and waters every year,” said Mary Ellen Ardouny, President & CEO of The Corps Network.

California Conservation Corps

The California Conservation Corps works to restore salmon habitat, while supplying veterans with transitional job opportunities. Photo credit John Griffith.

“We believe deeply in the work of The Corps Network and its focus on creating more opportunities for youth to serve their country while they are likewise trained to be the next great generation of conservation and community leaders,” says THI President Michael Sprague. “As a private company we look for the best opportunities to give back, and what could be better than training young people to love, protect and restore our nation’s natural resources?”

 The Corps Network

The Corps Network’s 127 members operate in all states and the District of Columbia. Each year they collectively enroll over 27,000 Corpsmembers from ages 16-25. Corps organize an additional 289,000 community volunteers who work alongside Corpsmembers to generate 638,684 additional hours of service annually, at an estimated value of $14,140,463. It is the mission of The Corps Network to provide national leadership and promote the growth and quality of its member Corps as they provide education, workforce development, and an ethic of stewardship to diverse youth who address important community and conservation needs.

Trout Headwaters, Inc.
Trout Headwaters, Inc. is the industry leader in sustainable approaches to stream, river, and wetland renewal and repair.  As one of the oldest firms in the industry, THI has pioneered approaches using natural materials and native vegetation that can reliably replace hard, invasive treatments that often damage our nation’s streams and rivers.  Besides developing and refining new techniques THI is a staunch advocates for greater sharing of information and more consistent use of assessment and monitoring tools, providing greater certainty of environmental benefits to restoration.

 

Media Contacts:

Michael Sprague, President, Trout Headwaters, Inc.
(800) 218-8107 mike@troutheadwaters.com

Levi Novey, Director of Communications & Marketing, The Corps Network
(202)737-6272 lnovey@corpsnetwork.org

 

 

 

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WSMPThe United States Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District Wyoming Regulatory Office has approved the first Wyoming Stream Mitigation Procedure (WSMP) for the state.

The WSMP establishes a method for calculating compensatory mitigation debits and credits that will provide predictability and consistency.   Such a procedure is necessary for allowing the development of mitigation banks in the state.  The practice of using compensatory mitigation to minimize unavoidable losses of aquatic resources is an important component of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Clean Water Act Section 404 Regulatory Program.

According to the WSMP document, Wyoming’s procedure was adapted from similar methodologies used in other Corps Districts that have been in effect for several years, and is based on the Montana Stream Mitigation Procedure  originally drafted a decade ago, but updated this year as well.

The idea of mitigation banking has been around for 30 years, and has steadily gained ground as a preferred method of protecting aquatic resources.  In 2008, the EPA and the Corps issued revised regulations governing compensatory mitigation.  The 2008 Compensatory Mitigation Rule (22 CFR Parts 325 and 332) established equivalent and effective standards for all three compensatory mitigation mechanisms: mitigation banks, in-lieu fee mitigation, and permittee-responsible mitigation.  Since mitigation banking is the most reliable form of compensatory mitigation, these regulations establish a hierarchy for the use of banks when appropriate credits are available.

Mitigation bank credits may be purchased by a permittee from a mitigation bank where aquatic resources (e.g., wetlands, streams, riparian areas) are restored, established, enhanced, and/or preserved in advance of impacts.

The WSMP represents an important step forward for Wyoming’s aquatic resources.

Read more: http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Portals/23/docs/regulatory/WY/WSMP_Feb2013.pdf

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watershortageTopping Trout Headwaters’ list of water wishes for the new year was: “Wishing that all water users will increase their conservation efforts so that healthy flows may be returned to our rivers.”

Securing access to plentiful, renewable sources of fresh water is among the biggest struggles large cities around the world face. Growing populations and declining fresh water supplies – from rapidly depleting aquifers as well as drought-stricken reservoirs and rivers – mean that cities are scrambling to find solutions.

“The ultimate price for not taking care of our streams and rivers is chronic water shortage,” says THI President Michael Sprague. “These shortages are upon us.  We need to work even harder to reverse this trend by protecting and restoring our freshwater resources before many suffer the consequences.”

The Weather Channel looked at 10 major U.S. cities facing some of the nation’s most acute water shortages, and the hurdles they face in obtaining enough water to meet their citizens’, and industries’, needs.

The list begins with the driest major city in Texas.

Read more: http://www.weather.com/news/science/environment/10-cities-could-run-out-water-20131212?utm_source=Water+Headlines+for+December+18&utm_campaign=Water+Headlines+Dec+18&utm_medium=email

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THIProjectSite2013Water alerts continued to receive notice throughout 2013. Both drought and flooding again topped the nation’s headlines. 

My Top Water Wishes for the New Year include a quick look back at some of the important water stories that streamed our network this past year.

Top Ten Water Wishes for 2014:

#10: Wishing that our nation recognize the growing importance of water to our economy. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/two-reports-reinforce-link-between-environment-and-economy/

#9: Wishing that extreme and invasive strategies to resource management be shelved. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/rotenone-1952-called-and-wants-its-fisheries-management-strategy-back/

#8: Wishing that we harness green infrastructure – not pour more concrete. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/why-we-must-harness-green-infrastructure-not-concrete-to-secure-clean-water/

#7: Wishing that stream, river and wetland restoration efforts consider practical and low­-cost  approaches.  http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/the-johnny-willowseed-approach-to-stream-restoration-is-both-practical-and-low-cost/

#6: Wishing that solid economic analysis be applied to the environmental impacts we are creating in our pursuit of progress (insuring our respect and reinvestment in the basic ecosystem services which provide us life)  http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/none-of-the-worlds-top-industries-would-be-profitable-if-they-paid-for-the-natural-capital-they-use/

#5: Wishing that the U.S. continue to increase transparency and available public information relating to implementation of its environmental programs. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/obama-directs-agencies-to-make-more-data-public/

#4: Wishing that we work together to restore more resilient landscapes in response to increased frequency and intensity of storm events. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/the-science-behind-colorados-catastrophic-floods/

#3: Wishing that our cities may become more like forests. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/how-a-city-can-be-more-like-a-forest/

#2: Wishing that policy makers, land owners and resource managers respect the importance of conserving small streams. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/study-focus-on-smaller-streams-can-save-big-river-fish/


#1: Wishing that all water users will increase their conservation efforts so that healthy flows may be returned to our rivers. http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/how-to-keep-trout-streams-cool-in-a-warming-climate/

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