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Owl WILDLIFE DIVISION
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What is the Fish and Wildlife Habitat Mitigation Policy?

The Fish and Wildlife Habitat Mitigation Policy provides guidance to ODFW in evaluating the potential impact of development actions on fish and wildlife habitat.  The Fish and Wildlife Habitat Mitigation Policy (pdf) classifies habitat into one of six categories, depending upon the importance of the habitat to a specific species of fish or wildlife. The more important the habitat is to a particular species, the greater the potential that disturbing the habitat will have a negative impact on the species. The Fish and Wildlife Habitat Mitigation Policy sets guidelines to reduce, offset, or avoid the impact on fish and wildlife habitat. Specific terms are used in the policy to define the importance of the habitat to a particular species.

Fish and Wildlife Habitat Mitigation - Key Definitions

Essential habitat

Any habitat condition or set of habitat conditions which, if diminished in quality or quantity, would result in depletion of a fish or wildlife species.

Limited habitat

An amount insufficient or barely sufficient to sustain fish and wildlife populations over time.

Important habitat

Any habitat recognized as a contributor to sustaining fish and wildlife populations over time.

Irreplaceable habitat

Successful in-kind habitat mitigation to replace lost habitat quantity and/or quality is not feasible within an acceptable period of time or location, or involves an unacceptable level of risk or uncertainty.

Habitat with High Restoration Potential

Previous uses or activities that have reduced habitat values need to be able to be eliminated or severely reduced.

The Fish and Wildlife Habitat Mitigation Policy establishes mitigation goals for each category of habitat and, depending upon the importance of the habitat, identifies preferred strategies to avoid or mitigate the impact of proposed actions on fish and wildlife habitat. The policy sets sideboards within which ODFW considers recommended options and alternatives for mitigation. The less important the habitat is, the more options that may be considered for mitigation.

Habitat Categories and Mitigation Strategies

Habitat Category

Definition

Example

Goal for Mitigation

Mitigation Strategy

Category 1

Irreplaceable, essential and limited habitat

Bogs and fens, certain springs and pools

No loss of habitat quantity or quality

Avoidance

Category 2

Essential and limited habitat

Salt marshes, cottonwood galleries, big game winter range, salmonid migration corridors, some spawning and rearing areas.

No net loss of habitat quantity or quality and to provide a net benefit of habitat quantity or quality

In-kind, in-proximity mitigation

Category 3

Essential habitat, or important and limited habitat

Older forested areas, reed canary grass wetland, spawning and rearing areas.

No net loss of habitat quantity or quality

In-kind, in-proximity mitigation

Category 4

Important habitat

Isolated or degraded wetlands, big game summer range, spawning, rearing and foraging areas.  

No net loss of habitat quantity or quality

In-kind or out-of-kind, in-proximity or off-proximity mitigation

Category 5

Habitat having high potential to become either essential or important habitat

Restorable rye grass fields or diked or drained coastal marshes, marshes, some types of reservoirs.

Net benefit in habitat quantity or quality

Actions that improve habitat conditions

Category 6

Habitat that has low potential to become essential or important habitat

Urban areas and other areas with little or no restoration potential, artificial ponds without native species.

Minimize impacts

Minimize direct habitat loss and avoid off-site impacts

Based on the importance of the value of the habitat to fish and wildlife, ODFW biologists may recommend avoiding all impact to the habitat or may recommend a variety of approaches or actions to offset or replace habitat affected by the proposed project.  ODFW provides the recommendations to the permitting agency as part of the permitting process. The permitting agency may choose to include the ODFW recommendations for mitigation as a requirement of the final permit. 

Useful Links

State of Oregon Permitting Agencies

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