The Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District (Corps), jointly announce the publication and availability of the Stream Function Assessment Method (SFAM) version 1.0 dated June 2018. The method provides a scientifically supported, rapid assessment tool for gathering information on the functions and values associated with wadeable streams that may be subject to regulatory jurisdiction under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Oregon’s Removal-Fill Law. The method does not imply or represent a change in the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” or “Waters of the State.”
The purpose of this notice is to make the public aware of SFAM and associated tools, explain the need for and development of the method, and to invite feedback from users. SFAM has four components:
• Excel Workbook
• User Manual
• Scientific Rationale
• SFAM Map Viewer
The SFAM documents are available from the DSL website, www.oregon.gov/dsl/WW/pages/aquatic-resources-mitigation-framework.aspx. The documents and the SFAM Map Viewer are available from the Oregon Explorer Aquatic Mitigation topic page at oregonexplorer.info/topics/aquatic-mitigation?qt-subtopic_quicktab=0&ptopic=38.
SFAM was developed by experts from federal and state agencies with experience across Oregon and reflects the technical expertise and critical review of others from relevant professional and academic fields. The method has been field tested by interagency teams of state and federal scientists, as well as by private consultants, and was also the subject of statistical testing using data resulting from a field study. Use of the method will help to support decision making in a consistent, predictable, robust, repeatable and defensible way.
SFAM will change how stream mitigation is achieved in Oregon. It will provide a stream assessment tool, which had previously been lacking, thereby making stream mitigation more function- and watershed-based and providing better ecological outcomes.
With this notice, DSL and the Corps recommend that project proponents use SFAM in their applications for state removal-fill permits and/or federal Section 404 dredged and fill material permits, where appropriate and practicable. SFAM can help to describe and quantify stream (and related resource) type and functions that will be impacted and replaced at the proposed impact and mitigation sites, respectively. DSL is currently conducting rulemaking to change from acre-based mitigation to function- and value-based mitigation, and is proposing that SFAM be required, with some exceptions, beginning July 2019.
The agencies will be providing technical training for the public to use and understand SFAM. Training opportunities will be offered through DSL’s website at: www.oregon.gov/dsl/WW/pages/aquatic-resources-mitigation-framework.aspx.
In the future, through additional state rulemaking, the agencies anticipate using SFAM outputs to determine how much stream compensatory mitigation is required. To reach this goal, the agencies will be conducting additional work following the release of SFAM to:
• Understand SFAM’s ability to detect changes in functions due to on-site actions
• Improve SFAM based on user-feedback and work toward an approach for larger rivers
• Seek input on proposed stream accounting protocols for determining mitigation amount
This phased-in approach to stream mitigation policy will provide incremental improvements in program outcomes, while providing time to adjust to new tools and protocols.
We encourage you to stay informed by visiting the Aquatic Resources Mitigation Framework website: www.oregon.gov/dsl/WW/Pages/Aquatic-Resources-Mitigation-Framework.aspx and the proposed rulemaking website: www.oregon.gov/dsl/Laws/Pages/Rulemaking.aspx. You may ask questions and provide comments regarding SFAM via DSL’s dedicated email box AquaticResourceMitigationProject@dsl.state.or.us
For additional information, contact any one of the following Project Team leads: