Compensation as Mitigation for Fish and Wildlife Benefits: The Pigeon River Fund Example

Poor water quality upstream of the Carolina Power and Light Company (CP&L) Walters Hydroelectric Project (WHP) resulted in establishment of a mitigation fund in lieu of immediate water releases as a condition of a new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license. The negotiated agreement between state management agencies and CP&L includes provisions for future instream flow releases, but until that time, CP&L will make annual payments to the Pigeon River Fund (PRF). The PRF will grant money to nonprofit groups and government agencies for projects related to water quality, fish and wildlife habitat improvement, fishery management, and angler access outside the WHP boundaries. We suggest that agencies avoid, minimize, rectify, reduce, or eliminate projects over time before considering monetary compensation as mitigation. The PRF, while having apparent good potential for improving fish and wildlife habitat, made its first grants during 1996 so its future success is unknown.

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