Environmental Management

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 239–253 | Cite as

Land Use Planning and Social Equity in North Carolina’s Compensatory Wetland and Stream Mitigation Programs



The U.S. Clean Water Act requires compensatory mitigation for wetland and stream damage through restoration of damaged aquatic ecosystems. We evaluate the North Carolina’s Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP), a state agency responsible for compensatory mitigation. We compare communities gaining and losing aquatic resources during mitigation, finding new types of socioeconomic disparities that contradict previous studies of mitigation program behavior. We find average distances between impact and mitigation sites for streams (43.53 km) and wetlands (50.3 km) to be larger in North Carolina than in off-site mitigation programs in other regions previously studied. We also find that aquatic resources in the State are lost from urbanized areas that are more affluent, white, and highly educated, and mitigated at sites in rural areas that are less affluent, less well educated, and have a higher percentage of minorities. We also analyze the relationship between urban growth indicators and EEP accumulation of compensation sites. Growth indicators and long-term population projections are uncorrelated with both projected transportation impacts and advance mitigation acquired by the EEP, suggesting that growth considerations can be more effectively incorporated into the EEP’s planning process. We explore the possibility that spatial mismatches could develop between watersheds that are rapidly growing and those that are gaining mitigation. We make recommendations for ways that regulators incorporate growth indicators into the mitigation planning process.


Land use planning Section 404 clean water act Environmental planning Ecosystem service market Mitigation banking Ecological restoration 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of City and Regional PlanningUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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