Los Angeles Metro moves forward on advanced mitigation
EHL is working to bring meaningful mitigation to transportation projects that affect natural habitat.
The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will be constructing highway projects in coming years that will affect plants and animals. While mostly within urban areas, with projects such as freeway widenings, there are still significant impacts, including to wetlands and riparian habitat.
EHL has been steering an effort by conservation groups to convince Metro to adopt a Regional Advanced Mitigation Program, or RAMP, to better compensate for biological impacts. Under a RAMP, impacts are assessed early on and comprehensively, with both more meaningful mitigation and with greater cost efficiency than the old project-by-project approach. RAMPs have been successful for both transportation agencies and the environment in San Diego and Orange Counties, with treasured lands coming under protection.
EHL and its allies worked with the Office of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to initiate consideration of a RAMP by Metro. When Metro convened a Sustainability Council to which EHL was appointed, the opportunity arose to tangibly advance the effort.
Metro commissioned a study of options, which identified a new State program – Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (RCIS) – as the preferred choice. An RCIS identifies high priority conservation areas and protects land as “mitigation banks,” which are then used to offset future impacts. EHL chaired a committee of the Sustainability Council that reviewed the report and provided input. The full Council accepted our recommendation to approve the study and send it to the MTA Board, which concurred. EHL worked with other stakeholders on the Council in this successful joint effort, and we also note the positive role of MTA staff.
EHL will follow up with MTA on next steps, such as securing partner agencies for an RCIS.