NHI views litigation as a last resort in conservation of aquatic resources. It is plainly necessary when a regulatory agency or user of an aquatic resource will not act in minimum compliance with the law. However, nearly all resource uses, such as water diversions, are controlled by regulatory permits, and the permitting agencies have substantial discretion in their decisions. We use negotiation and other forms of collaboration to resolve disputes between permit applicants and other stakeholders and otherwise develop solutions that will result in effective and durable conservation.
We design each settlement to establish accountability and collaboration in the performance of required management measures. We favor a comprehensive scope so that the settlement resolves all related disputes between the stakeholders, not just those within the jurisdiction of an agency or court. As an example, the relicensing settlement for Dominion Generationís Roanoke Rapids-Lake Gaston Project (VA and NC) is designed to protect and restore the biodiversity of the riparian bottomlands reaching 147 miles below the project to Albermarle Sound on the Atlantic Ocean. The adaptive management program consists of measurable objectives for future resource conditions, along with collaborative monitoring and adaptation of the projectís peaking operations over the course of the next 50 years. Similarly, the 1998 settlement in the Mono Lake Cases establishes such a collaborative program for restoration of the tributary trout fisheries, waterfowl habitat, and lake level.