In-Lieu Fee mitigation is an option where project proponents pay a third party to provide mitigation instead of building a project-specific mitigation site. In-Lieu Fee programs are defined by the 2008 federal mitigation rule (p. 19671), and by the Joint Guidance (Part 1, p.38-39) published by Washington State Department of Ecology, the Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency. This approach allows a third party such as a non-profit natural resources management entity or government agency with demonstrated competence in natural resource management to collect fees and use them to restore, establish (create), enhance, or preserve wetlands.
In-Lieu Fee mitigation is intended to be used mainly to compensate for minor impacts to wetlands when better approaches to compensation are not available, practicable, or when the use of an In-Lieu Fee program is in the best interest of the environment.
WSDOT will be able to either pay fees to purchase mitigation from an appropriate certified In-Lieu Fee program or develop a program for internal use. The process for procuring credit from an In-Lieu Fee program will be similar to that developed for procuring mitigation bank credits.
Several In-Lieu Fee programs have been proposed in Washington and are in various stages of development. The Department of Ecology In-Lieu Fee website has additional information on In-Lieu mitigation and current information about active and proposed in-lieu fee programs, including the types of mitigation credits available and the service area to which they can be applied.