Although designed to prevent the loss of Oregon's wetlands, mitigation projects in the state destroyed more wetlands than they created, according to a state study. While Oregon has some of the strongest wetland protection laws in the nation, it still allows wetlands to be drained and developed if their destruction is offset by creating, restoring or enhancing other wetlands. The study, which examined 72 projects in the Portland metropolitan area, found that overall the projects resulted in a net loss of wetlands. Most projects failed to comply with permit requirements, and their planning, implementation and monitoring was usually inadequate. The study also found a bias toward replacing emergent wetlands - wetlands with grasses and weeds - with open-water duck ponds. The number of wetlands projects in the Portland area more than doubled since the end of the study in 1990, and there are now approximately 450 of them throughout the state. To receive a free copy of the 25-page Monitoring and Evaluating Wetland Compensatory Mitigation Projects in Portland, Oregon, write the Division of State Lands, 775 Summer St., NE, Salem, OR 97310-1337 (503/378-3805).


* John Rosapepe