Abstract: Session D 8:30 am (Back to Session D)
Improving aquatic connectivity for compensatory mitigation in New Hampshire
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Wetlands Bureau Mitigation Program
Concord, New Hampshire
Authors- Bondi, C and Sommer, L
The Aquatic Resource Mitigation (“ARM”) Fund is New Hampshire’s in-lieu fee program that provides a compensatory mitigation option to offset the functions and values lost from impacts to aquatic resources. The ARM program pools the funds collected from permitted impacts according to nine watersheds and then distributes the money as grants to fund restoration and protection projects. To offset the stream impacts that generated the funds, the ARM program has recently supported several stream restoration projects to restore aquatic connectivity— including stream crossing upgrades and replacements, and dam removal projects. Because of the sheer number of potential aquatic barriers throughout the state, it is critical that stakeholders prioritize the projects that maximize the environmental benefits to mitigate for the stream impacts in the watershed. In collaboration with the New Hampshire Stream Crossing Initiative, the ARM Fund program is part of a multi-agency partnership with the goal to inventory stream crossings throughout the state to identify opportunities to restore aquatic connectivity, enhance stream habitat, and increase flood resiliency. Since 2008, information on fish passage, geomorphic compatibility, and flood vulnerability has been collected at ~7,000 stream crossings across the state. To assist ARM grant applicants in identifying suitable stream restoration projects, the ARM Fund program established evaluation criteria and created an interactive web mapping tool— The Aquatic Restoration Mapper—to aid in prioritization. The mapper provides data on aquatic barriers, species of concern, important wildlife habitat, diadromous migratory corridors, and flood vulnerability, which can be used to target mitigation opportunities. Since 2010, the ARM program has disbursed $1,593,000 to stream restoration projects including three dam removals, five culvert upgrades, and two instream improvement projects to restore aquatic connectivity and enhance stream habitat. These projects have regained access to 62 miles of upstream habitat, removed tidal barriers for diadromous fish migrations, and opened passage for coldwater fisheries to headwater tributaries. We will provide examples of ARM-funded stream restoration projects and the mitigation credits generated from these various projects.