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    Cumulative Impacts - Regulatory Division

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    Video by Annie Chambers 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District

    The goal of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit evaluation process is to ensure that permit decisions balance the need for proposed development with the protection of the nation’s aquatic environment.

    In reviewing project proposals, the Corps considers them in the context of the watershed. A watershed is an entire region that drains into a particular water body such as a lake, river or ocean. When a project is proposed, the Corps looks not only at what is being done, and how it’s affecting the project location, but how that project will affect the bigger picture.

    Cumulative impact assessment includes the review of direct and indirect impacts. A direct impact may be the construction of a single family home subdivision. Examples of an indirect impact may be any future construction such as road infrastructure or water quality degradation downstream.

    The Corps also considers the implementation of past, present and reasonably foreseeable projects in the vicinity of a project area. For example, with a residential community now present, there would be a need for future development such as fire stations, hospitals and schools.

    Taking all these factors into consideration, the Corps is able to address potential impacts to aquatic resources on a more comprehensive, system-wide level.

    In its Environmental Operating Principles, the Corps pledged to strive to achieve environmental sustainability. Whether the Corps builds a project, or approves permits for projects to be built by others, it advocates that an environment maintained in a healthy, diverse and sustainable condition is necessary to support life.

    The consideration of cumulative impacts is vital to achieving a sustainable environment. Let’s take a closer look at cumulative impacts and how they are considered in the regulatory process.

    Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time or distance.

    In other words, a single family subdivision impacting two acres of wetlands may be individually minor. However, over time, the need for the road infrastructure, hospitals, schools and fire station; resulting in additional wetland impacts, may be unacceptable.

    In order to weigh the cumulative impact of a proposed project, here are some of the things that the Corps considers:

    Is the aquatic resource currently in a sustainable state, given past, present and reasonably foreseeable future actions?
    Is the health of the aquatic resource declining because of human activity?

    Have conservation actions or recovery plans reversed a declining trend for the resource, and helped it return to a healthy state?

    Cumulative impact assessments consider past, present and anticipated future impacts within a watershed, helping to achieve the Corps’ goal of no net loss of wetland functions and services. In order to achieve this goal, the Corps looks into various aspects like:

    The loss of locally important wetland functions and services;

    The potential for successful compensatory mitigation;

    The temporary loss of wetland functions and services during the time required for the compensatory wetlands to become fully functional;

    The potential for habitat to be fragmented or broken up;

    The potential to reverse a trend for systematic wetlands or related ecosystem restoration;

    The potential for cumulative impacts to wetlands to affect other resources, such as animal or plant species that depend upon healthy wetland habitat.

    Together, these considerations help to achieve the Corps’ goal of a sustainable environment with “no net loss of wetland functions or services.”

    The Corps recognizes the interdependence of life and the physical environment. Striving for balance and synergy between development activities and natural systems that support and reinforce one another is the cornerstone of the Corps’ regulatory program.



    Date Taken: 08.30.2012
    Date Posted: 08.30.2012 17:42
    Category: Package
    Video ID: 153402
    VIRIN: 120830-A-#####-085
    Filename: DOD_100478576
    Length: 00:06:01
    Location: JACKSONVILLE, FL, US 

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