Intact wetlands along coastal Louisiana.

New Orleans' Corps of Engineers to Use Modified Charleston Method

The mitigation assessment tool should improve process consistency when the Corps is determining the environmental impact of a particular project.

To improve consistency when determining a project’s environmental impact and required wetland mitigation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District’s Regulatory Branch will begin using the Modified Charleston Method (MCM) in its permit application evaluation process.

“The Modified Charleston Method will assist our project managers in assuring that unavoidable impacts to wetland functions are fully compensated by an applicant’s mitigation plan,” stated Pete Serio, chief of the New Orleans District’s Regulatory Branch. “Additionally, this method will not only promote consistency between our project managers but between all of the Corps districts that operate within Louisiana.”

The Charleston Method is a mitigation assessment tool developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District in 2002 and has been adopted by numerous districts throughout the Corps. For each permit application, the project manager evaluates a suite of factors, selecting the option that best describes site conditions for each. These responses are then quantified using pre-established values to determine the project’s overall impact and required mitigation.

The New Orleans District worked closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, National Marine Fisheries Service, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and other Corps districts to modify the existing criteria priorities to better reflect wetland conditions found in South Louisiana.

In addition to increased consistency, other advantages associated with the MCM include providing a quick assessment of impacts and mitigation requirements while requiring minimal field data collection, simplifies mixing of appropriate mitigation location and types, and provides a reliable tool for use by developers and planners to compare mitigation options.