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The basic form of authorization used by Corps districts is the Individual Permit. Processing such permits involves evaluation of individual, project specific applications in what can be considered three steps: pre-application consultation (for major projects), formal project review and decision making.
You are encouraged to contact the local Corps of Engineers field office in your area prior to making a permit application. Pre-application consultation usually involves one or more meetings between an applicant, Corps district staff, interested resource agencies (federal, state and/or local), and sometimes the interested public. The basic purpose of such meetings is to provide for informal discussions about the pros and cons of a proposal before an applicant makes irreversible commitments of resources (funds, detailed designs, etc.). The process is designed to provide the applicant with an assessment of the viability of some of the more obvious alternatives available to accomplish the project purpose, to discuss measures for reducing the impacts of the project, and to inform him of the factors the Corps must consider in its decision making process.
By discussing the work prior to submitting an application, your application can be processed more efficiently.
Helpful Hints for Submitting a Permit Application:
This information will assist individuals in identifying and acquiring permits for projects affecting waters of the United States under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. Hopefully, this information will minimize not only the time, effort and expense needed to accomplish projects, but will also help to lessen any adverse impact a project may have on the aquatic environment.
If you have questions about the extent of wetlands on your site, please contact your local field office to arrange for a wetland jurisdictional determination or a site review. This will allow you to plan your project to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands where possible. Pre-application meetings or a phone call to your local field office may be necessary or helpful to determine the extent of the project and what measures might need to be taken into consideration during your project design.
Please provide clear drawings. Do not clutter the drawings with extraneous information. A simple drawing which clearly shows the project is easier to copy and will be more readable by the time a permit decision is finally reached. Remember, these drawings must be copied for publication in the Public Notice.
It is very important that you provide complete information and details of the project. The following information is required for review by the Corps:
- Name, address, and phone number of applicant.
- Complete description of the proposed project, including the purpose, type and quantity of material to be discharged.
- All related activities. Is this a multiphase project? Have additional permits been applied for or received?
- A list of all adjacent property owners and their addresses.
- The project location. This should be clearly marked on a road map and a description of the directions should be included. In addition to the map and directions, you should submit the section, township and range and the latitude and longitude of the site.
- Has the application been signed?
- Be sure to include a full set of drawings on 8.5 inch by 11 inch format. These should include plan view, section view, elevation view, profile and grade drawings. Please use match lines where necessary.
After the application is received by the Corps, it will be assigned an identification number and reviewed for completeness. A request for additional information may be sent to notify you of any additional information which may be necessary for the Corps to review your proposed project. Then within 15 days of receiving all the required information, a public notice will be issued with a 15- to 30-day comment period. The proposal is then reviewed by the Corps, local, state and federal agencies, special interest groups and the general public.
After the comment period, the Corps reviews all of the comments received and consults with other agencies where appropriate. The Corps may ask for additional information at this time, and a public hearing may be conducted if one has been specifically requested and a decision has been made that there is a need.
The project manager evaluates the impacts of the project and all comments received, negotiates necessary modifications of the project if required, and drafts appropriate documentation to support a recommended permit decision. The permit decision document includes a discussion of the environmental impacts of the project, the findings of the public interest review process, and any special evaluation required by the type of activity such as compliance determinations with the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines or the ocean dumping criteria.
When all considerations are satisfied, the District Engineer decides to either issue or deny the permit application. If a denial is warranted, you will receive a written explanation of the reason for denial.
Fees are required for any issued individual permit and consist of $10.00 for individual, non-commercial projects, and $100.00 for commercial projects.
The Corps makes every effort to process Individual Permit applications within 120 days of the date a complete application is submitted. In some cases, such as controversial projects or projects dealing with endangered species concerns, the processing time may be greater than 120 days.
Survey Information that may be required:
If you need additional information concerning the permit process please contact your local Regulatory field office.
The Corps supports a strong partnership with states in regulating water resource developments. This is achieved with joint permit processing procedures (e.g., joint public notices and hearings), programmatic general permits founded on effective state programs, transfer of the Section 404 program in non-navigable waters, joint EISs, special area management planning, and regional conditioning of nationwide permits.
NOTE: The term “you” and its derivations, means the permittee or any future transferee. The term “district” or “we” or “us” refers to the Mobile District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and/or resource agencies which administers the general permits within the area of their management.
I. SPECIAL CONDITIONS (SP-1 through SP-9): The above-described structures and/or activities may be authorized under these general permits subject to the following conditions:
SP-1. An authorization will not be issued if you have been found by this office to be in noncompliance with any prior Corps permit, or have been cited for unauthorized work, until the noncompliance or violation has been resolved.
SP-2. Authorizations will not be issued for structures and activities that are found to be hazardous to navigation, or may produce adverse effects on the chemical, physical, or biological integrity of water bodies such as dredging or filling of wetland areas. The term “wetland’ means those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequently and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas. Such areas serve important purposes relating to water quality, fish and wildlife, recreation, and other elements in the general public interest. As environmentally vital areas, they constitute productive and valuable public resources, the unnecessary alteration or destruction of which are contrary to the public interest. Activities which would result in the alteration or destruction of bottom land hardwoods may not be authorized unless full coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is performed.
SP-3. You must submit a complete Joint Application and satisfactory plans. You are advised that all State and local permits must be obtained before work can be initiated. A copy of the Joint Application may be found at the Regulatory Website: http://www.sam.usace.army.mil/RD/reg.
SP-4. Conformance with descriptions and qualities contained herein does not necessarily guarantee consideration and/or subsequent authorizations. Additionally, you must have the requisite property rights to perform the requested work.
SP-5. These general permits will be valid for a five-year period or until suspended, revoked, or extended. They may be suspended or revoked, in whole or in part, if it is determined that the cumulative effects of any activities pursuant to them adversely affect water quality, navigation, or other public interest factors. Such suspension shall be effective upon issuance of a public notice which shall indicate the date periodically to determine if continuation of these permits is in the overall public interest. These general permits will be re-advertised via public notice every five years as part of a public interest review.
SP-6. Authorizations will not be issued which will adversely impact threatened or endangered species, or their critical habitat.
SP-7. Authorizations will not be issued which will impact, affect, or otherwise degrade cultural resources such as archaeological, scientific, prehistoric, or historic sites or data. Activities which will impact cultural resources will be evaluated as individual permits. If you discover any previously unknown historic or archeological remains while accomplishing an authorized activity, you must immediately notify the Mobile District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of what you have found. We will initiate the Federal and State coordination required to determine if the site warrants recovery efforts or if it is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
SP-8. Authorizations will not be issued for activities located in State or National Wild and Scenic streams, rivers, or components thereof, or other areas provided special protection unless the administering agency concurs.
SP-9. Authorization will be suspended if State water quality and/or coastal consistency standards are not met.
A Standard Permit is required when a proposed project does not meet the criteria to qualify for a General Permit, Nationwide Permit, or Letter of Permission. A Standard Permit usually has a 21-day comment period under public noticing, though it can be as short as 15 days or up to 30 days. A copy of the permit drawings and a description of the project are mailed out to the adjacent property owners and the applicant and their consultant. All other interested parties have to access pending public notices from the web. Processing time for these types of permits is usually 60 to 120 days from the receipt of a complete application in non-controversial projects. Controversial or larger projects may take longer.
Nationwide Permits (NWP) authorize a category of activities throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and are valid for an individual project only if the conditions of the appropriate permit type are met. After a review of the project, the Corps issues a verification letter pursuant to the applicable NWP.
An integral part of the Corps' regulatory program is the concept of NWPs for minor activities. NWPs are activity specific, and are designed to relieve some of the administrative burdens associated with permit processing for both the applicant and the federal government. Some activities authorized by NWPs require pre-construction notification to the District Engineer before commencing with the work. This notification requirement to the District Engineer is necessary to ensure that activities authorized by these NWPs have minimal individual and cumulative adverse impacts on the aquatic environment. Anyone not complying with the terms and conditions of a NWP may still receive authorization via a "standard permit," but the application must be individually evaluated and coordinated with third parties, including the federal and state resource agencies. Review of an application for a "standard permit" takes additional time to complete, as conflict resolution may be required.
In addition to the NWP general conditions, Division Engineers are authorized to add regional conditions specific to the needs and/or requirements of a particular region or state. Regional conditions are an important mechanism to ensure that impacts to the aquatic environment authorized by the NWPs are minimal, both individually and cumulatively.
NWPs can only be authorized for a five-year period, at which time they must be re-evaluated for their impacts on the aquatic environment. The current NWPs became effective on March 19, 2012.
2012 Nationwide Permits:
Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 34 / Tuesday, February 21, 2012 / Notices – Reissuance of Nationwide Permits *
* Detailed information for each of the NWPs begins on Page 87
* General conditions that apply to all NWPs begin on page 100
2012 NWPs with Corrections
Index of March 2012 Nationwide Permits:
1. Aids to Navigation
2. Structures in Artificial Canals
4. Fish and Wildlife Harvesting, Enhancement, and Attraction Devices and Activities
5. Scientific Measurement Devices
6. Survey Activities
7. Outfall Structures and Associated Intake Structures
8. Oil and Gas Structures on the Outer Continental Shelf
9. Structures in Fleeting and Anchorage Areas
10. Mooring Buoys
11. Temporary Recreational Structures
12. Utility Line Activities
13. Bank Stabilization
14. Linear Transportation Projects
15. U.S. Coast Guard Approved Bridges
16. Return Water From Upland Contained Disposal Areas
17. Hydropower Projects
18. Minor Discharges
19. Minor Dredging
20. Response Operations for Oil and Hazardous Substances
21. Surface Coal Mining Activities
22. Removal of Vessels
23. Approved Categorical Exclusions
24. Indian Tribe or State Administered Section 404 Programs
25. Structural Discharges
27. Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Establishment, and Enhancement Activities
28. Modifications of Existing Marinas
29. Residential Developments
30. Moist Soil Management for Wildlife
31. Maintenance of Existing Flood Control Facilities
32. Completed Enforcement Actions
33. Temporary Construction, Access, and Dewatering
34. Cranberry Production Activities
35. Maintenance Dredging of Existing Basins
36. Boat Ramps
37. Emergency Watershed Protection and Rehabilitation
38. Cleanup of Hazardous and Toxic Waste
39. Commercial and Institutional Developments
40. Agricultural Activities
41. Reshaping Existing Drainage Ditches
42. Recreational Facilities
43. Stormwater Management Facilities
44. Mining Activities
45. Repair of Uplands Damaged by Discrete Events
46. Discharges in Ditches
48. Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture Activities
49. Coal Remining Activities
50. Underground Coal Mining Activities
51. Land-Based Renewable Energy Generation Facilities
52. Water-Based Renewable Energy Generation Pilot Projects
2012 NATIONWIDE PERMIT REGIONAL CONDITIONS FOR THE STATE OF ALABAMA
2012 NATIONWIDE PERMIT WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION FOR ALABAMA
2012 NATIONWIDE PERMIT CZM for ALABAMA
2012 NATIONWIDE PERMIT CERTIFICATION SUMMERY TABLE ALABAMA
2012 NATIONWIDE PERMIT REGIONAL CONDITIONS for MISSISSIPPI
2012 NATIONWIDE PERMIT WATER CERTIFICATION for MISSISSIPPI
2012 NATIONWIDE PERMIT CZM for MISSISSIPPI
The term "general permit" means a Department of the Army authorization that is issued on a nationwide or regional (District-wide or more limited geographic scope) basis for a category of activities when: those activities are substantially similar in nature and cause only minimal individual and cumulative impacts. General permits are a way to reduce the burden of the regulatory program on the public and ensure timely issuance of permits while effectively administering the laws and regulations which establish and govern the program.
General permits are reviewed every five years. An assessment of the cumulative impacts of work authorized under the general permit is performed at that time if it is in the public interest to do so. In most instances, anyone complying with the conditions of the general permit can receive project specific authorization. Anyone not complying with the conditions of a general permit may still receive authorization via a "standard permit", but the application must be individually evaluated and coordinated with third parties, including the federal and state resource agencies. Review of an application for a "standard permit" takes additional time to complete as conflict resolution may be required.
A list of the applicable general permits can be obtained by contacting a project manager in your geographical location. Below, view the current list of general permits administered by the Mobile District. As additional permits are reauthorized, or new permits are effected, they will be added.
Refer to: General Conditions
If work is minor or routine with minimum impacts and objections are unlikely, then it may qualify for a Letter of Permission (LOP). An LOP can be issued more quickly than a standard permit since a public notice is not required.
The term "letter of permission" means a type of individual permit issued in accordance with the abbreviated procedures of 33 CFR 325.2(e).
33 CFR 325.2(e)(1) reads as follows:
e. Alternative procedures. Division and district engineers are authorized to use alternative procedures as follows:
1. Letters of permission. Letters of permission are a type of permit issued through an abbreviated processing procedure which includes coordination with Federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, as required by the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, and a public interest evaluation, but without the publishing of an individual public notice. The letter of permission will not be used to authorize the transportation of dredged material for the purpose of dumping it in ocean waters. Letters of permission may be used:
I. In those cases subject to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 when, in the opinion of the district engineer, the proposed work would be minor, would not have significant individual or cumulative impacts on environmental values, and should encounter no appreciable opposition.
II. In those cases subject to section 404 of the Clean Water Act after:
1. The district engineer, through consultation with Federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, the Regional Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, the state water quality certifying agency, and, if appropriate, the state Coastal Zone Management Agency, develops a list of categories of activities proposed for authorization under LOP procedures;
2. The district engineer issues a public notice advertising the proposed list and the LOP procedures, requesting comments and offering an opportunity for public hearing; and
3. A 401 certification has been issued or waived and, if appropriate, CZM consistency concurrence obtained or presumed either on a generic or individual basis.
A determination by the Corps that no permit is required for a specific project may be based on one or more of the following:
1. A proposed project will not require a Department of the Army permit in accordance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 if it is not located within the navigable waters of the United States. Furthermore, a permit will not be required in accordance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act if it will not involve the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States.
2. A project as proposed will not require a Department of the Army permit in accordance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 if it is considered a bridge and, therefore, is under the regulatory jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard.
3. A project does not require a Department of the Army permit if the proposed work has been determined to be an exempt silviculture, farming, or ranching activity pursuant to the Code of Federal Regulations (33 CFR Part 323.4), provided the work is done in accordance with the provisions and conditions identified in 33 CFR Part 323.4 a Department of the Army authorization will not be required.
4. A project will not require a Department of the Army permit if the activity itself is not regulated. Examples of non-regulated activities may include work in uplands or non-regulated wetlands, as well as some piling supported structures and some excavation activities.
As always, you should contact your local Corps Regulatory Office for assistance in determining whether or not a permit is required.
A No Permit Required determination by the Corps:
- Does not obviate the requirement to obtain any other Federal, State, or local permits which may be necessary for your project.
- Does not constitute a federal evaluation of possible impacts to species protected under the Endangered Species Act. Projects that have the potential to impact federally listed species should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Does not constitute a federal evaluation of possible impacts to historic resources protected under Section 106 of the Natural Historic Preservation Act. Projects that have the potential to impact historic sites should contact the State Historic Preservation Officer in Tallahassee.
- Does not determine if your project may be subject to local building restrictions mandated by the National Flood Insurance Program. You should contact your local office that issues building permits to determine if your site is located in a flood-prone or floodway area, and if you must comply with the local building requirements mandated by the National Flood Insurance Program.
- May not be valid for the wetland conservation provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985, as amended. If you or your tenant are U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program participants, or anticipate participation in USDA programs, you should request a certified wetland determination from the local office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service prior to starting work.
- Reflect current policy and regulations and are usually valid for a period of no longer than five years from the date of the letter unless new information warrants a revision of the determination before the expiration date. If after the five-year period, the Corps has not specifically revalidated the determination, it will automatically expire. Any reliance upon a determination beyond the expiration date may lead to possible violation of current federal laws and/or regulation
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What is a wetland?
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency define wetlands as those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands are areas that generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.
Wetlands are areas that are covered by water or have waterlogged soils for long periods (14-21 days) during the growing season. Plants growing in wetlands are capable of living in saturated soil conditions for at least part of the growing season. Wetlands such as swamps and marshes are often obvious, but some wetlands are not easily recognized, often because they are dry during part of the year or "they just don't look very wet" from the roadside.
Some of these wetland types include, but are not limited to, many bottomland forests, pocosins, pine savannahs, bogs, wet meadows, potholes and wet tundra. Information is given here to help you determine if you have a wetland. If you intend to place dredged or fill material in a wetland or in an area that might be a wetland, contact the local Corps regulatory office to see if a permit is required.
Why is it necessary to consider whether an area is a wetland?
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act requires that anyone interested in depositing dredged or fill material into "waters of the United States, including wetlands," must receive authorization for such activities. The Corps has been assigned responsibility for administering the Section 404 permitting process. Activities in wetlands for which permits may be required include, but are not limited to:
- Placement of fill material
- Ditching activities when the excavated material is sidecast
- Levee and dike construction
- Mechanized land clearing
- Land leveling
- Most road construction
- Dam construction
The final determination of whether an area is a wetland and whether the activity requires a permit must be made by a Corps regulatory office.
How can wetlands be recognized?
The Corps uses three characteristics of wetlands when making wetland determinations: vegetation, soil and hydrology. Each characteristic is discussed below. Unless an area has been altered or is a rare natural situation, wetland indicators of all three characteristics must be present during some portion of the growing season for an area to be a wetland.
There are some general situations in which an area has a strong probability of being a wetland. If any of the following situations occur, you should ask the local Corps office to determine whether the area is a wetland.
- Area occurs in a floodplain or otherwise has low spots in which water stands at or above the soil surface during the growing season. Caution: Most wetlands lack both standing water and waterlogged soils during at least part of the growing season.
- Area has plant communities that commonly occur in areas having standing water for part of the growing season (e.g., cypress-gum swamps, cordgrass marshes, cattail marshes, bulrush and tule marshes and sphagnum bogs).
- Area has soils that are called peats or mucks.
- Area is periodically flooded by tides, even if only by strong, wind-driven, or spring tides.
Many wetlands can be readily identified by the general situation stated above. For the boundary of these areas and numerous other wetlands, however, it is unclear whether these situations occur.
In such cases, it is necessary to carefully examine the area for wetland indicators of the three major characteristics of wetlands: vegetation, soil and hydrology. Wetland indicators of these characteristics, which may indicate that the area is a wetland, are described below:
Nearly 5,000 plant types in the United States may occur in wetlands. These plants, known as hydrophytic vegetation, are listed in the Corps' 2012 National Wetland Plant List (NWPL). The NWPL and other information concerning the NWPL can be found on the Corps Headquarters Regulatory web page under the listing of Technical and Biological Resources.
However, you can usually determine if wetland vegetation is present by knowing a relatively few plant types that commonly occur in your area. For example, cattails, bulrushes, cordgrass, sphagnum moss, bald cypress, willows, mangroves, sedges, rushes, arrowheads and water plantains usually occur in wetlands.
Other indicators of plants growing in wetlands include trees having shallow root systems, swollen trunks (e.g., bald cypress, tupelo gum) or roots found growing from the plant stem or trunk above the soil surface. Several Corps offices have published pictorial guides of representative wetland plant types.
If you cannot determine whether the plant types in your area are those that commonly occur in wetlands, ask the local Corps regulatory office or a local botanist for assistance.
There are approximately 2,000 named soils in the United States that may occur in wetlands. Such soils, called hydric soils, have characteristics that indicate they were developed in conditions where soil oxygen is limited by the presence of saturated soil for long periods during the growing season. If the soil in your area is listed as hydric by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the area might be a wetland.
If the name of the soil in your area is not known, an examination of the soil can determine the presence of any hydric soil indicators, including:
- Soil consists predominantly of decomposed plant material (peats or mucks)
- Soil has a thick layer of decomposing plant material on the surface
- Soil has a bluish gray or gray color below the surface, or the major color of the soil at this depth is dark (brownish black or black) and dull
- Soil has the odor of rotten eggs
- Soil is sandy and has a layer of decomposing plant material at the soil surface
- Soil is sandy and has dark stains or dark streaks of organic material in the upper layer below the soil surface. These streaks are decomposed plant material attached to the soil particles. When soil from these streaks is rubbed between the fingers, a dark stain is left on the fingers.
Wetland hydrology refers to the presence of water at or above the soil surface for a sufficient period of the year to significantly influence the plant types and soils that occur in the area. Although the most reliable evidence of wetland hydrology may be provided by gaging station or groundwater well data, such information is limited for most areas and, when available, requires analysis by trained individuals. Thus, most hydrologic indicators are those that can be observed during field inspection. Most do not reveal either the frequency, timing, or duration of flooding or the soil saturation.
The following indicators provide some evidence of the periodic presence of flooding or soil saturation:
- Standing or flowing water is observed on the area during the growing season
- Soil is waterlogged during the growing season
- Water marks are present on trees or other erect object. Such marks indicate that water periodically covers the area to the depth shown on the objects.
- Drift lines, which are small piles of debris oriented in the direction of water movement through an area, are present. These often occur along contours and represent the approximate extent of flooding in an area.
- Debris is lodged in trees or piled against other object by water.
- Thin layers of sediments are deposited on leaves or other objects. Sometimes these become consolidated with small plant parts to form discernible crust on the soil surface.
Wetlands are currently defined by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as "those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted to life in saturated soil conditions." Not all wetlands fall within the Corps' regulatory jurisdiction. Information regarding how the Corps evaluates whether or not a wetland is regulated is available from the CWA Guidance page.
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The goal of the Clean Water Act and the 404(b)(1) Guidelines is to maintain, restore, and enhance the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters. The Corps strives to avoid adverse impacts to waters of the United States, and to achieve a goal of no net loss of wetlands functions and values. To achieve this goal, replacement acreage may often be greater than the acreage lost. Replacement acreage will be determined based on functional values of the area being impacted, the temporal loss of habitat that will occur, as well as an adequate margin to reflect the expected degree of success associated with the mitigation plan. The purpose of compensatory mitigation is to develop long-term self-sustaining wetlands that are not dependent on human intervention after the establishment period. The Corps will determine the acreage ratio that will be required after receiving recommendations from the applicant and the appropriate resource agencies. The Corps will consider the functions and values of the wetlands that will be eliminated or degraded, the functions and values of the proposed mitigation site, and the likelihood of success of the proposed mitigation. Compensation for impacts to waters of the United States should be completed in advance but no later than concurrent with the impact, as near to the site of impacts as practicable, and protected from subsequent loss or degradation. In-lieu payments and purchase of property are usually not sufficient means of wetland compensation. Wetland mitigation may include habitat preservation, restoration and/or creation. The mitigation must be based on the functions and values of wetlands that are affected and the local opportunities to utilize these two approaches: Mitigation Banking and Preservation.
Consistent with the Corps’ regulations at 33 CFR Part 332, concerning compensatory mitigation for aquatic resource impacts, one objective is to provide a minimum one-to-one functional replacement for wetland loss. To do this, the functions of a wetland can be identified and evaluated through a numeric functional assessment methodology. While the Corps neither prescribes nor prohibits any specific numeric functional assessment, the Corps desires to be responsive to the needs of the public by accepting the same methodology required by state and local levels, when appropriate.