In-Lieu Fee Mitigation (ILF) Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I verify stream and/or wetland mitigation credit availability when planning for a project?
A: Credit availability can be verified by visiting the USACE Regulatory In-Lieu Fee and Bank Information Tracking System (RIBITS). You may get a “certificate error” but click “continue to page (not recommended)” and it will take you to the main RIBITS site.
Scroll down and you will see SIX Indiana DNR links. The IN SWMP Service Areas are exhibited in RIBITS based on the Corps District(s) in which jurisdiction overlaps. Stream and wetland mitigation credits cannot be reserved and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
Find the one that contains your Indiana service area and click on it.
On the next page there will be a link to “Ledger” near the top. Click this link. It will show you a table, “ILF Program Ledger Summary” for the service area(s) you selected. The first column (Advance Credits Available) will show you how many credits DNR’s program has available in that service area for wetlands and streams.
Q: What are the costs for stream and wetland mitigation credits?
A: Stream and wetland mitigation credit prices vary per service area. Credit prices may need to be adjusted higher or lower by the DNR to account for the cost of full mitigation project delivery. Credit prices may not be the same at the time of purchase as when a permittee checked for credit availability. Current credit prices are found under the HOW TO PURCHASE CREDITS section.
Q: When can stream and/or wetland mitigation credits be purchased?
A: A permittee must obtain a Department of the Army Section 404 Permit from the Corps of Engineers and a Section 401 Water Quality Certification from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management authorizing the purchase of stream and/or wetland mitigation credits from the DNR for impacts to jurisdictional “waters of the U.S.” prior to purchasing in-lieu fee mitigation credits. Credits will not be sold until all required permits are issued documenting the required mitigation.
To purchase wetland mitigation credits for state isolated wetland impacts, a permittee must obtain a State Isolated Wetland Permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management authorizing the purchase of in-lieu fee wetland mitigation credits. Credits will not be sold for isolated wetland impacts until the State Isolated Wetland Permit has been issued by IDEM documenting the required wetland mitigation.
Q: What can ILF mitigation money be spent on?
A: ILF mitigation involves the restoration, creation, enhancement, or preservation of aquatic resources through funds paid to a governmental or non-profit natural resources management entity to satisfy compensatory mitigation for federal, state, and local permits. Therefore, ILF monies generated from the sales of mitigation credits can only be used for fulfilling compensatory mitigation obligations.
Q: How is ILF different from other types of mitigation?
A: In-lieu fee programs sell advance mitigation credits to permit recipients whose obligation to provide compensatory mitigation is then transferred to the sponsor of an approved in-lieu fee program. The sponsor of the ILF program then becomes responsible for the success of mitigation projects. The ILF projects are usually constructed after impacts have occurred and fees have been collected.
Other approaches to provide compensation for wetland impacts that result from development are listed below:
- “Permittee-responsible” mitigation: Generally, the wetlands are built after the permit is issued and the adverse impact occurs. Mitigation can occur on or off site. In these situations, the permit recipient retains responsibility for the success of the mitigation.
- Wetland mitigation banking: Wetland areas are established before unavoidable permitted losses occur. Bank credits can be sold to permit recipients to meet permit requirements. As with an in-lieu fee program, the responsibility for the success of the mitigation transfers to the bank sponsor when credits are purchased.
Q: What are the benefits of an ILF program?
A: ILF programs provide many benefits, such as:
- Selecting mitigation project sites using a watershed approach that looks at locally identified needs, local watershed plans and other conservation priorities.
- Providing flexibility to combine mitigation needs from small project impacts into larger, more sustainable aquatic resource restoration projects.
- Speeding up the permitting timeframes by nearly 50 percent.
- Providing the state a better opportunity at mitigation success by having an ILF sponsor that is experienced in completing restoration projects and carry out the mitigation plan.
- Providing permanent protection—the regulatory agencies require mechanisms for long-term protection, management, and maintenance of the project sites as well as funding for long-term management.