California Eelgrass Mitigation Policy and Implementing Guidelines
It is NMFS’ policy to recommend no net loss of eelgrass habitat function in California.
For all of California, compensatory mitigation should be recommended for the loss of existing eelgrass habitat function, but only after avoidance and minimization of effects to eelgrass have been pursued to the maximum extent practicable. Our approach is congruous with the approach taken in the federal Clean Water Act guidelines under section 404(b)(1) (40 CFR 230). In absence of a complete functional assessment, eelgrass distribution and density should serve as a proxy for eelgrass habitat function. Compensatory mitigation options include comprehensive management plans, in-kind mitigation, mitigation banks and in-lieu-fee programs, and out-of- kind mitigation. While in-kind mitigation is preferred, the most appropriate form of compensatory mitigation should be determined on a case-by-case basis.