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State Technical Committee Meeting August 28, 2013 Ritch Nelson – State Wildlife Biologist.

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Presentation on theme: "State Technical Committee Meeting August 28, 2013 Ritch Nelson – State Wildlife Biologist."— Presentation transcript:

1 State Technical Committee Meeting August 28, 2013 Ritch Nelson – State Wildlife Biologist

2 National policy issued to allow State Conservationist to use an “off-site” wetland delineation procedure in limited instances: On-site visit is not required on actively managed cropland and pastureland where adequate “tools” exist to make an off-site determination On-site visits are required in the following instances: Off-site information is not adequate to make the call Producer requests an on-site determination A minimal effect determination is being made If there is an “appeal” by the producer Prior to withholding any benefits resulting from conversion

3 Current policy in NE only allows for off-site on fields entirely Non-Wetland (NW) using a number of tools to screen for possible wetlands Determine scenarios where wetlands and their boundaries could be delineated using these same off-site tools

4 Current Nebraska NRCS procedures require that a site visit be required where evidence of wetlands are present in the field/tract. Hydric soils data Aerial image “footprints” Old NWI maps

5 Requests for Certified Wetland Determinations have nearly tripled from 2010 to 2012 (1,006 to 2,704) and 2013 requests are on pace to surpass 2012 (1,850 through Feb.) In 2012, approximately 38 mitigation plans and 89 minimal effect agreements

6 Good Faith requests through FSA increased: 2010 = 0 2011 = 7 2012 = 13 2013 = 21 Consultant Developed Mitigation Plans increased: 2009 = 1 2010 and 2011 = 3 each 2012 = 5 2013 = 8 proposals

7 “Separation of Duties” requirements have increased time spent on wetland calls starting in October of 2012 – primarily due to travel time and logistics of making determinations in an unfamiliar county (location, soils, available resources, etc.)

8 Complexity of determinations is much higher than 5 or 10 years ago due to changes in procedures (new plant list, mapping procedures, etc.) as well as documentation requirements (Appeal hearing results, proper quality review process, etc.)

9 Using aerial photography (minimum of 10 years) to verify presence or absence of wetland signatures If 3 of 10, or less show signatures (NW or PC) More than 6 of 10 show signatures (W or FW) In Between? > Requires a field visit to verify ONLY APPLIES TO PRELIMINARY DETERMINATIONS!

10 Access to Historic Photos Historic Signatures, Pre-Manipulated Condition “Real Time” Satellite Images Access via Internet Old Paper Copy Soil Survey Books Spot Symbols, Drainages NWI Maps Color Infra-Red Photos


12 Sites to be sod-busted where wetland signatures obscured by tree cover Fields with multiple wetlands where at least one wetland requires field visit (30% to 60%)

13 HYDROLOGY ELEMENTS Modify precipitation charts to clarify wet-dry-normal periods by month/year Standardize selection of weather stations based on location of wetland site Finalize the technical note on tile installation and standardize lateral effect information Develop Scope and Effect worksheets for pits, tile, pumping, and make updates to existing ditch worksheet

14 SOILS AND GIS ELEMENTS Corrections to soils database with hydric inclusions and screening process Scanned FSA slides and historic photos LiDAR coverage for Nebraska Common data layer with certified wetland determinations mapped

15 WETLAND VEGETATION AND FUNCTIONAL ASSESSMENT ELEMENTS Develop methods to search new plant list for common name, prior scientific names, etc. Increase availability of plant field guides and wetland plant in-field training sessions Complete edits to existing wetland functional assessment methods (terminology and comments) Provide standard mitigation plans for different wetland types and conversion scenarios

16 Gain input on the issue from the State Technical Committee Test methods on different wetland situations and conduct quality review in Fall of 2013 Inform workgroup of wetland partners in Nebraska of details Adapt existing Off-Site Methods from Iowa and South Dakota to Nebraska circumstances Issue policy and procedure and provide training for staff to apply the new process


18 East – only 1/3 rd of the requests would qualify for off-site due to tree cover or a wetland signature in the “middle” North and South – maybe 50% of sites could use off-site on a portion of the wetlands (typically larger fields) Current estimates for off- site is an average of 4 hours per determination This would increase (since not just doing NW calls) to approximately 8 hours per determination Current on-site estimate is 12 hours per call (does this account for travel?)

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