Click here to open the NWP and applicable regional and general conditions. Opens in a new window (pdf).
27. Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Enhancement, and Establishment Activities. Activities in waters of the United States associated with the restoration, enhancement, and establishment of tidal and non-tidal wetlands and riparian areas, the restoration and enhancement of non-tidal streams and other non-tidal open waters, and the rehabilitation or enhancement of tidal streams, tidal wetlands, and tidal open waters, provided those activities result in net increases in aquatic resource functions and services.
To be authorized by this NWP, the aquatic habitat restoration, enhancement, or establishment activity must be planned, designed, and implemented so that it results in aquatic habitat that resembles an ecological reference. An ecological reference may be based on the characteristics of an intact aquatic habitat or riparian area of the same type that exists in the region. An ecological reference may be based on a conceptual model developed from regional ecological knowledge of the target aquatic habitat type or riparian area.
To the extent that a Corps permit is required, activities authorized by this NWP include, but are not limited to: the removal of accumulated sediments; the installation, removal, and maintenance of small water control structures, dikes, and berms, as well as discharges of dredged or fill material to restore appropriate stream channel configurations after small water control structures, dikes, and berms, are removed; the installation of current deflectors; the enhancement, rehabilitation, or re-establishment of riffle and pool stream structure; the placement of in-stream habitat structures; modifications of the stream bed and/or banks to enhance, rehabilitate, or re-establish stream meanders; the removal of stream barriers, such as undersized culverts, fords, and grade control structures; the backfilling of artificial channels; the removal of existing drainage structures, such as drain tiles, and the filling, blocking, or reshaping of drainage ditches to restore wetland hydrology; the installation of structures or fills necessary to restore or enhance wetland or stream hydrology; the construction of small nesting islands; the construction of open water areas; the construction of oyster habitat over unvegetated bottom in tidal waters; shellfish seeding; activities needed to reestablish vegetation, including plowing or discing for seed bed preparation and the planting of appropriate wetland species; re-establishment of submerged aquatic vegetation in areas where those plant communities previously existed; re-establishment of tidal wetlands in tidal waters where those wetlands previously existed; mechanized land clearing to remove non-native invasive, exotic, or nuisance vegetation; and other related activities. Only native plant species should be planted at the site.
This NWP authorizes the relocation of non-tidal waters, including non-tidal wetlands and streams, on the project site provided there are net increases in aquatic resource functions and services.
Except for the relocation of non-tidal waters on the project site, this NWP does not authorize the conversion of a stream or natural wetlands to another aquatic habitat type (e.g., the conversion of a stream to wetland or vice versa) or uplands. Changes in wetland plant communities that occur when wetland hydrology is more fully restored during wetland rehabilitation activities are not considered a conversion to another aquatic habitat type. This NWP does not authorize stream channelization. This NWP does not authorize the relocation of tidal waters or the conversion of tidal waters, including tidal wetlands, to other aquatic uses, such as the conversion of tidal wetlands into open water impoundments.
Compensatory mitigation is not required for activities authorized by this NWP since these activities must result in net increases in aquatic resource functions and services.
Reversion. For enhancement, restoration, and establishment activities conducted:
(1) In accordance with the terms and conditions of a binding stream or wetland enhancement or restoration agreement, or a wetland establishment agreement, between the landowner and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Farm Service Agency (FSA), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the National Ocean Service (NOS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), or their designated state cooperating agencies;
(2) as voluntary wetland restoration, enhancement, and establishment actions documented by the NRCS or USDA Technical Service Provider pursuant to NRCS Field Office Technical Guide standards; or
(3) on reclaimed surface coal mine lands, in accordance with a Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act permit issued by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) or the applicable state agency, this NWP also authorizes any future discharge of dredged or fill material associated with the reversion of the area to its documented prior condition and use (i.e., prior to the restoration, enhancement, or establishment activities). The reversion must occur within five years after expiration of a limited term wetland restoration or establishment agreement or permit, and is authorized in these circumstances even if the discharge occurs after this NWP expires. The five-year reversion limit does not apply to agreements without time limits reached between the landowner and the FWS, NRCS, FSA, NMFS, NOS, USFS, or an appropriate state cooperating agency.
This NWP also authorizes discharges of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States for the reversion of wetlands that were restored, enhanced, or established on prior-converted cropland or on uplands, in accordance with a binding agreement between the landowner and NRCS, FSA, FWS, or their designated state cooperating agencies (even though the restoration, enhancement, or establishment activity did not require a section 404 permit). The prior condition will be documented in the original agreement or permit, and the determination of return to prior conditions will be made by the Federal agency or appropriate state agency executing the agreement or permit. Before conducting any reversion activity the permittee or the appropriate Federal or state agency must notify the district engineer and include the documentation of the prior condition. Once an area has reverted to its prior physical condition, it will be subject to whatever the Corps Regulatory requirements are applicable to that type of land at the time. The requirement that the activity results in a net increase in aquatic resource functions and services does not apply to reversion activities meeting the above conditions. Except for the activities described above, this NWP does not authorize any future discharge of dredged or fill material associated with the reversion of the area to its prior condition. In such cases a separate permit would be required for any reversion.
Reporting. For those activities that do not require pre-construction notification, the permittee must submit to the district engineer a copy of:
(1) The binding stream enhancement or restoration agreement or wetland enhancement, restoration, or establishment agreement, or a project description, including project plans and location map;
(2) the NRCS or USDA Technical Service Provider documentation for the voluntary stream enhancement or restoration action or wetland restoration, enhancement, or establishment action; or
(3) the SMCRA permit issued by OSMRE or the applicable state agency. The report must also include information on baseline ecological conditions on the project site, such as a delineation of wetlands, streams, and/or other aquatic habitats. These documents must be submitted to the district engineer at least 30 days prior to commencing activities in waters of the United States authorized by this NWP.
Notification: The permittee must submit a pre-construction notification to the district engineer prior to commencing any activity (see general condition 32), except for the following activities:
(1) Activities conducted on non-Federal public lands and private lands, in accordance with the terms and conditions of a binding stream enhancement or restoration agreement or wetland enhancement, restoration, or establishment agreement between the landowner and the FWS, NRCS, FSA, NMFS, NOS, USFS or their designated state cooperating agencies;
(2) Voluntary stream or wetland restoration or enhancement action, or wetland establishment action, documented by the NRCS or USDA Technical Service Provider pursuant to NRCS Field Office Technical Guide standards; or
(3) The reclamation of surface coal mine lands, in accordance with an SMCRA permit issued by the OSMRE or the applicable state agency. However, the permittee must submit a copy of the appropriate documentation to the district engineer to fulfill the reporting requirement. (Authorities: Sections 10 and 404)
Note: This NWP can be used to authorize compensatory mitigation projects, including mitigation banks and in-lieu fee projects. However, this NWP does not authorize the reversion of an area used for a compensatory mitigation project to its prior condition, since compensatory mitigation is generally intended to be permanent.