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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Ecosystem Enhancement Program - Who Is EEP

Ecosystem Enhancement Program

 

EEP

 

 

WHO IS EEP?

EEP is the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program, a state Department of Environment and Natural Resources initiative that restores and protects wetlands and waterways for future generations while offsetting unavoidable environmental damage from economic development. 
 
EEP offers four In-Lieu Fee mitigation programs designed to assist private and public entities comply with state and federal compensatory mitigation for streams, wetlands, riparian buffers, and nutrients.  EEP utilizes receipts from the programs to restore streams and wetlands where the need is greatest by working with state and local partners, including willing landowners. The N.C. Department of Transportation and other developers voluntarily use EEP to move projects forward in a timely and affordable manner.
 

 History of EEP

A Time For Change

To address this situation, a cooperative process-improvement initiative in North Carolina involving more than 10 state and federal natural-systems agencies convened in 2001. Obstacles identified in the initiative included inadequate communication, undefined roles and responsibilities, poor synchronization in executing existing mitigation and permitting processes, and a lack of clearly understood mitigation-success objectives.

This panel's conclusions led to recommendations that mitigation for NCDOT should be provided years in advance of project impact, and be designed to replace unavoidable functional losses to wetlands and riparian buffers. The panel also conceived and set into motion events leading to the creation of the Ecosystem Enhancement Program.

Over the subsequent two years, business and operational planning occurred that encompassed funding authorization, consensus-building with environmental- and mitigation-interest groups, legal support, regulatory-agency agreements, and transition plans for staffing and logistics. 
A Memorandum of Agreement among NCDOT, NCDENR and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District established EEP's procedures on July 22, 2003.  (Note: In 2010, the MOA was superseded by a new legal document, or In-Lieu Fee Instrument, for the operation and use of EEP's In-Lieu Fee programs for stream and wetland mitigation.)  

                                                                     

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