Ecosystem Restoration Authorities

Ecosystem Restoration is one of the primary missions of the Corps. The purpose of Corps ecosystem restoration activities is to restore significant ecosystem function, structure and dynamic processes that have been degraded. Ecosystem restoration efforts involve an examination of the problems contributing to the system degradation, and the development of alternative means for their solution. The intent of restoration is to partially or fully reestablish the attributes of a natural, functioning and self-regulating system. Restoration opportunities associated with wetlands, riparian and other floodplain and aquatic systems are likely to be most appropriate for Corps involvement. Authorities through which the Corps can participate in the study, design and implementation of ecosystem restoration projects include:

  1. Section 206, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration;
  2. Section 1135, Project Modifications for Improvement of the Environment;
  3. Section 204, Beneficial Uses of Dredged Material; and
  4. Studies specifically authorized by Congress, pursued under Investigations. The Corps also implements projects under the Estuary Restoration Act.

The purpose of the Section 206, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration this authority is to develop aquatic ecosystem restoration and protection projects that cost effectively improve the quality of the environment, and are in the public interest.

The Section 1135, Project Modifications for Improvement of the Environment authority provides for the review and modification of structures and operations of water resources projects constructed by the Corps for the purpose of improving the quality of the environment. Projects must be feasible, consistent with the authorized project purposes, and improve the quality of the environment in the public interest. In addition, if a Corps water resources project has contributed to the degradation of the quality of the environment, restoration measures may be implemented at the project site or at other locations that have been affected by the construction or operation of the project, if such measures do not conflict with the authorized project purposes.

The purpose of the Section 204, Beneficial Uses of Dredged Material authority is to carry out projects for the protection, restoration and creation of aquatic and ecologically related habitats, including wetlands, in connection with dredging for construction, operation, or maintenance of a Corps authorized navigation project.

Investigations and projects to address ecosystem restoration objectives may be undertaken in response to either a study specific or standing authority provided by the Congress. Study-specific authorizations may be provided in resolutions from the House Committee on Infrastructure and Transportation or the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Ecosystem restoration projects must be consistent with the requirements of the authorization.

The purpose of the Estuary Restoration Act, as amended, is to promote the restoration of estuary habitat; to develop a national Estuary Habitat Restoration Strategy for creating and maintaining effective partnerships within the federal government and with the private sector; to provide federal assistance for and promote efficient financing of estuary habitat restoration projects; and to develop and enhance monitoring, data sharing and research capabilities. The ERA authorizes a program under which the Secretary of the Army (through the Corps) may carry out projects and provide technical assistance to meet the restoration goal.

Planning Assistance to States

Under the authority provided by Section 22 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1974 (PL 93-251), as amended, the Corps can provide states, local governments, other non-federal entities and eligible Native American Indian tribes assistance in the preparation of comprehensive plans for the development, use and conservation of water and related land resources. Typical studies are only planning level of detail; they do not include detailed design for project construction. The program can encompass many types of studies dealing with water resources issues. Types of studies conducted in recent years under the program include the following: water supply/demand, water conservation, water quality, environmental/ conservation, wetlands evaluation/restoration, dam safety/failure, flood damage reduction, coastal zone protection and harbor planning.

Cost Sharing Requirements. Efforts under this program are cost shared on a 50 percent federal – 50 percent non-federal basis. The study sponsor has the option of providing in-kind services for up to one-half of its share of the study cost.

Study Process. The process for PAS investigations begins after a state, regional, local government or Native American Indian tribe requests Corps  assistance under the program. The Corps will work with the requesting organization to develop a scope of work and assemble the appropriate study team for the effort being requested. Once a scope of work has been developed, a cost sharing letter agreement will be prepared and sent to the sponsor for their signature. Once the both parties have signed the agreement, the study may begin, subject to the availability of both federal and local funding.

Study Cost

PAS assistance is cost shared on a 50 percent federal and 50 percent non-federal basis. The study sponsor has the option of providing in-kind services up to 100 percent of its share of the study cost.            

Final Design/Construction Costs

The program does not give the Corps the authority to complete detailed final designs or construction activities.

How to Request Assistance. Requests for assistance should be in the form of a letter that includes the location and nature of the problem to be investigated. The request should be submitted by a state, local government agency to Mario Beddingfield, USACE Galveston District, 2000 Fort Point Road, Galveston, TX 77550. For more information call 409-776-3913.