Environmental Management

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 263–274 | Cite as

Wetland loss and substitution by the Section 404 permit program in southern California, USA

  • Aaron O. Allen
  • Johannes J. Feddema
Environmental Auditing


To test the effectiveness of the 404 permit program in preventing a net loss of wetland resources, 75 Section 404 projects permitted in the years 1987–1989 and located in a portion of southern California were evaluated. From this group of projects, 80.47 ha of wetlands were affected by Section 404 permits and the Army Corps of Engineers required 111.62 ha of wetland mitigation. To verify the successful completion of each mitigation project, all 75 project sites were visited and evaluated based on the amount of dead vegetation, growth and coverage, and the number of invasive species. Based on the field verification results, the actual amount of completed mitigation area was 77.33 ha, resulting in a net loss of 3.14 ha of wetland resources in the years 1987–1989. By comparing the types of wetlands lost to the types of wetlands mitigated, it is apparent that, in particular, freshwater wetlands are experiencing a disproportionately greater loss of area and that riparian woodland wetlands are most often used in mitigation efforts. The net result of these accumulated actions is an overall substitution of wetland types throughout the region. Results also indicate that, typically, large-scale mitigation projects are more successful compared to smaller projects and that successful compliance efforts are not evenly distributed throughout the region. We recommend that better monitoring, mitigation in-kind, mitigation banking, and planning on a regional or watershed scale could greatly improve the effectiveness of the Section 404 permitting program.

Key words

Wetlands Clean Water Act Southern California Wetland mitigation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron O. Allen
    • 1
  • Johannes J. Feddema
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of California at Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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