Each year, GBF’s Wetlands Permit Review Committee examines approximately 100 public notices from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for permit applications to conduct activities in Galveston Bay wetlands, and recommends changes or denials when the projects do not appear to meet applicable regulations, mitigation requirements, or do not represent the least environmentally damaging alternative. GBF’s wetland permit committee is made up of one GBF staff person and several volunteers with a variety of professional backgrounds. The Foundation considers the current science and research relevant to the affected habitat, and coordinates with other natural resource agencies and organizations as part of the review process, in addition to working proactively with applicants by meeting with them early in the permit process when possible.
Priorities for those planning any project should be to avoid sensitive and valuable habitats and reduce potential impacts on those habitats. GBF strongly supports the USACE overall goal of “no net loss of wetlands” in the Galveston Bay watershed. The Foundation also supports the USACE project sequencing guidance:
- Avoid impacts
- Reduce or minimize impacts
- Mitigate for unavoidable impacts to wetlands and the waters of the U.S.
When formulating comments, GBF considers whether efforts have been made to avoid or reduce impacts to the Bay, and whether plans are in place to use alternative strategies. In cases where avoidance or reduction is not possible and mitigation is required, the Galveston Bay Foundation reviews and comments on the proposed compensation. GBF recommends that for mitigation to be effective, new habitat should be:
- Provide the same habitat type, function, and value as the affected area
- Within the watershed of the proposed project
Since its beginning in 1987, the Galveston Bay Foundation has been reviewing public notices for permits that could affect Galveston Bay habitats or any of its many users. The Wetlands Permit Review Committee meets monthly to discuss current U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public notices. Local experts and interested citizens are invited to participate in GBF’s regular committees that address Bay-related issues.
For more information on GBF’s Wetland Permit Review Committee, please contact Scott Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.