A primary goal of the regulatory program is to protect the nation's aquatic resources, particularly wetlands.
In some cases, projects will have an unavoidable impact on wetlands. In these instances, USACE requires replacement of the wetlands. In Fiscal Year 2005, USACE issued permits that affected 21,000 acres of wetlands. To offset those effects, more than 56,000 acres of wetlands were restored, created, enhanced or preserved under the program. In many cases, several small, separate, low value wetlands were replaced with more environmentally beneficial large wetland complexes. The regulatory program also plays a key role in protecting endangered species.
Because of the permit program, many developers also have begun taking steps early in their planning process to avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts. USACE's expedited general permit program also motivates developers to seek solutions that avoid or minimize harm so that they can receive a quicker permit decision.
Overall, the USACE permit program is making it possible for necessary development projects to go forward while minimizing environmental harm.
In addition to the permit process, USACE's enforcement program ensures that companies that harm the environment fix the damage. USACE acts on more than 6,000 reported violations each year.