Hood Canal In-Lieu Fee Mitigation Program

Photo by Haley Harguth

The HCCC In-Lieu Fee (ILF) Program provides an alternate mitigation option for authorized, unavoidable impacts to freshwater and marine aquatic resources and may offer some permit applicants an option to purchase mitigation credits from HCCC to fully satisfy mitigation obligations for their proposed projects. 

Federal, state, Tribal and local environmental regulations require that impacts from development on aquatic resources (e.g., wetlands, streams, and shoreline habitats) and their buffers be avoided and minimized to the extent practicable. If all impacts cannot either be avoided or minimized, compensatory mitigation for unavoidable, adverse impacts will be required. HCCC’s ILF Program works in concert with Integrated Watershed Plan goals when seeking mitigation opportunities.

Compensatory mitigation can be accomplished in several ways, including permittee-responsible, and ILF Program mitigation. Early in the permitting process, permit applicants should consult with the permitting agencies to select the most appropriate form of mitigation.

The ILF Program is a completely voluntary program sponsored by the Hood Canal Coordinating Council. Although it does have other authorities and legal responsibilities, HCCC is a non-profit organization with no regulatory authority. Under the ILF Program, landowners or developers may make a one-time payment to the ILF Program instead of implementing their own mitigation project. The payment funds will be used by HCCC to implement mitigation projects that are strategically sited with respect to a watershed's ecological needs.

The primary purpose of the ILF Program is to meet the goal for no net loss of aquatic resource functions. The primary benefit is to improve how and where mitigation is implemented, so that we can better compensate the Hood Canal ecosystem while accomplishing HCCC’s habitat conservation and stewardship goals.

Photo by Mike Hovis

Step-by-Step Process to Utilize the ILF Program

Here is a step-by-step example of the process for mitigating unavoidable permitted impacts to aquatic resources and buffers through the ILF Program:

  1. Permit applicants work with regulatory agencies and tribes to identify ways a proposed project can avoid and minimize environmental impacts. 
  2. Regulatory agencies determine preferred options for mitigating unavoidable impacts. Mitigation options may include: on-site mitigation, off-site mitigation completed by the permit applicant, purchasing credits from a mitigation bank (if one is available), or purchasing credits from the ILF Program.
  3. If the applicant chooses to use the ILF Program (and the regulatory agencies approve), the ecological impacts are translated into a number of debits associated with the impact.
  4. The applicant buys credits from the ILF Program to offset the debits associated with the impact. By purchasing credits, the applicant satisfies his or her compensatory mitigation requirements and has no further involvement in the mitigation implementation.
  5. The ILF Program determines an appropriate mitigation site based on science-based watershed priorities.
  6. The ILF Program plans, implements, monitors, and maintains the mitigation projects at the chosen site that will achieve ecological “lift.” On balance, completed projects should result in a number of credits equal to or greater than the number of debits associated with the original impacts. 
For additional guidance on determining permit applicant (permittee) versus ILF Program mitigation by County within the ILF Program service area, please see the links below:
Learn more about ILF Program oversight by the Interagency Review Team.


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Mike Lisitza
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