Wetlands Protection:

The Scope of the Section 404 Program Remains Uncertain

RCED-93-26: Published: Apr 6, 1993. Publicly Released: Apr 6, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Section 404 Program, focusing on: (1) the extent to which the Corps has implemented GAO recommendations concerning the program; (2) legislative and other developments that have affected the 404 program; and (3) whether budgetary constraints have affected program administration.

GAO found that: (1) the Corps and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have made progress in implementing some GAO recommendations aimed at improving section 404 program administration including the development of a data reporting system that would provide baseline information on the development of wetlands; (2) the Corps and EPA are developing guidelines to assess the cumulative impacts of wetlands development projects and revise their methodology for delineating wetland boundaries; (3) the Corps and EPA have not adequately emphasized section 404 permit enforcement and are primarily involved with permit processing; (4) proposed changes to the section 404 program would expedite the permit application process; and (5) budgetary and staffing constraints have limited the Corps' ability to carry out program activities including timely wetland delineations and site visits.

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