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

The Fish and Wildlife Habitat Mitigation Policy (Policy) provides guidance to ODFW in evaluating the potential impact of land and water development actions on fish and wildlife habitat. Depending on the life history needs for a particular species and the habitat condition or set of conditions that support those needs, a proposed development action may have an adverse effect on fish and wildlife habitat. The Policy sets guidelines to avoid, minimize or mitigate the impact from a development action on fish and wildlife habitat.

Fish and Wildlife Habitat Mitigation - Key Definitions

The following specific terms are used in the policy to define the value of the habitat to a particular species.

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 Categories and Mitigation Strategies

The Policy classifies habitat into one of six categories depending upon the functions and values of the habitat to a specific species, population or a unique assemblage of fish or wildlife species, and establishes mitigation goals for each category of habitat. Depending on the functions and values the habitat provides to fish and wildlife species, the policy 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 valuable the habitat is to support fish and wildlife, the more options that may be considered for mitigation. The Mitigation Category Flow Chart is a helpful guide for determining habitat categories.

The table below provides some examples of the various habitat categories. ODFW evaluates the habitat categories based on the best available data and on the functions and values of the habitat. For some habitats, such as big game winter range, ODFW has developed additional guidance documents that provide the rationale for designating a habitat category. Based on the functions and values the habitat provides 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 mitigate habitat impacted by a proposed development action

Habitat Category Definition Example Goal for Mitigation Mitigation Strategy
Category 1 Essential, limited, and irreplaceable habitat Bogs and fens, certain springs, seeps, and heron rookeries No loss of habitat quantity or quality Avoidance
Category 2 Essential and limited habitat Salt marshes, cottonwood galleries, big game winter range, subtidal habitat. 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 Big game summer range, some wetlands No net loss of habitat quantity or quality In-kind, in-proximity mitigation
Category 4 Important habitat Isolated or degraded wetlands 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 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 Minimize impacts Minimize direct habitat loss and avoid off-site impacts

Working with ODFW

The project proponent is responsible for the expenses of developing, evaluating, and implementing the mitigation plan and monitoring the mitigation site.  However, ODFW provides technical assistance to the permitting entity and applicants when reviewing proposed development actions.  ODFW biologists may, to the extent that available resources allow, assist in identifying fish and wildlife species and habitats, determine the Habitat Categories, identify the nature, extent, and duration of potential impacts, and identify mitigation measures to achieve the goals and standards of the Policy. As part of the permitting process, ODFW provides recommendations to avoid, minimize or mitigate impacts to fish, wildlife, and their habitats to the permitting entity. The permitting entity 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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