Notice of Availability of Proposed Changes to Section I of the Indiana Field Office Technical Guide for Public Review and Comment, 27393-27406 [2016-10218]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices Dated: May 2, 2016. Julie K. King, Forest Supervisor. Forest Service [FR Doc. 2016–10721 Filed 5–5–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411–15–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES May 2, 2016. The Department of Agriculture has submitted the following information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104–13. Comments are requested regarding (1) whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of burden including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques and other forms of information technology. Comments regarding this information collection received by June 6, 2016 will be considered. Written comments should be addressed to: Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), New Executive Office Building, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503. Commentors are encouraged to submit their comments to OMB via email to: OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov or fax (202) 395–5806 and to Departmental Clearance Office, USDA, OCIO, Mail Stop 7602, Washington, DC 20250– 7602. Copies of the submission(s) may be obtained by calling (202) 720–8681. An agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless the collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number and the agency informs potential persons who are to respond to the collection of information that such persons are not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 27393 Jkt 238001 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Title: Recreation Fee and Wilderness Program Administration. OMB Control Number: 0596–0106. Summary of Collection: The Federal Lands Recreation and Enhancement Act (16 U.S.C. 6801–6814) authorizes the Forest Service (FS) to collect recreation fees for use of government facilities and services. The Organic Administration Act (16 U.S.C. 473), the Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1131), and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (16 U.S.C. 1271) authorize FS to collect information from National Forest System visitors who are asked to describe the location of their visit and estimated duration of stay. Every year millions of people visit National Forest System recreations sites. At some of these sites, the public is required to pay a fee to use the site. Fees are charged to help cover the costs of operating and maintaining fee sites, areas, and facilities such as campgrounds. FS will collect information from the forms to document when visitors pay a required recreation fee and to schedule requests for use and occupancy of government owned facilities. Need and use of the Information: Forms used to collection information and fees from visitors: (1) The Recreation Fee Permit Envelope (FS 2300–26 and 26a); (2) Permit for ShortTerm, Non-commercial Use of Government-Owned Cabins and Lookouts (FS 2300–43); (3) Visitor Permit (FS–2300–30); (4) Visitor Registration Card (FS–2300–32); (5) National Recreation Application (FS– 2300–47) and (6) National Recreation Permit (FS–2300–48). Personal information includes, but not limited to, names, addresses, telephone number, length of stay, amount paid, requested dates of occupancy, party size and vehicle registration are collected. If this information and fees was not collected FS could not monitor visitation rates in special management areas to prevent overuse and site deterioration in environmentally sensitive areas. Description of Respondents: Individuals or households. Number of Respondents: 2,228,000. Frequency of Responses: Reporting: Other (per visit). Total Burden Hours: 119,000. Natural Resources Conservation Service Charlene Parker, Departmental Information Collection Clearance Officer. [FR Doc. 2016–10722 Filed 5–5–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411–15–P PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 [Docket No. NRCS–2016–0003] Notice of Availability of Proposed Changes to Section I of the Indiana Field Office Technical Guide for Public Review and Comment Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). ACTION: Notice and request for comments. AGENCY: NRCS is proposing to revise Section I of the Indiana Field Office Technical Guide to include ‘‘Guidance for Indiana Wetland Determinations, Including the use of Offsite Methods, to Identify Wetlands, Wetland Types, and Their Size for the 1985 Food Security Act, as amended,’’ which will replace the existing ‘‘Wetland Mapping Conventions for Agricultural Land and Narrow Band and Small Pocket Inclusions of Non-Agricultural Land’’ (commonly referred as State Wetland Mapping Conventions). DATES: Effective Date: This notice is effective May 6, 2016. ‘‘Guidance for Indiana Wetland Determinations, Including the use of Offsite Methods, to Identify Wetlands, Wetland Types, and Their Size for the 1985 Food Security Act, as amended’’ is in final draft, subject to revision and will be utilized immediately in order to better service requests for wetland determinations for compliance with the Food Security Act of 1985 (as amended) in a timely manner. Comment Date: Submit comments on or before June 6, 2016. ADDRESSES: Comments should be submitted, identified by Docket Number NRCS–2016–0003, using any of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Mail or hand-delivery: Submit state specific comments to the Indiana NRCS State Office, located at 6013 Lakeside Boulevard, Indianapolis Indiana 61821. NRCS will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. In general, personal information provided with comments will be posted. If your comment includes your address, phone number, email, or other personal identifying information, your comments, including personal information, may be available to the public. You may ask in your comment SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1 27394 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices that your personal identifying information be withheld from public view, but this cannot be guaranteed. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jane E. Hardisty, State Conservationist, Telephone: (317) 295–5801 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: ‘‘Guidance for Indiana Wetland Determinations, Including the use of Offsite Methods, To Identify Wetlands, Wetland Types, and Their Size for the 1985 Food Security Act, as amended’’ will be used as part of the technical documents and procedures to conduct wetland determinations on agricultural land as required by 16 U.S.C. 3822. NRCS is required by 16 U.S.C. 3862 to make available for public review and comment all proposed revisions to standards and procedures used to carry out highly erodible land and wetland provisions of the law. All comments will be considered. If no comments are received, ‘‘Guidance for Indiana Wetland Determinations, Including the use of Offsite Methods, to Identify Wetlands, Wetland Types, and Their Size for the 1985 Food Security Act, as amended’’ will be considered final. Electronic copies of the proposed ‘‘Guidance for Indiana Wetland Determinations, Including the use of Offsite Methods, to Identify Wetlands, Wetland Types, and Their Size for the 1985 Food Security Act, as amended’’ are available through http:// regulations.gov by accessing Docket No. NRCS–2016–0003. Alternatively, copies can be downloaded or printed from the Indiana NRCS Web site located at http:// www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/ site/in/home/. Requests for paper versions or inquiries may be directed to the Indiana State Conservationist at the contact point shown above. Signed this 21 day of April, 2016. Jane E. Hardisty, Indiana State Conservationist. United States Department of Agriculture Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service Guidance for Indiana Wetland Determinations, Including the use of Offsite Methods, To Identify Wetlands, Wetland Types, and Their Size For the 1985 Food Security Act, as amended. TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 1.0 FOOD SECURITY ACT OF 1985, AS AMENDED WETLAND DETERMINATION PROCESS STEP 1: WETLAND IDENTIFICATION .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 1.1 DEVELOPMENT OF SAMPLING UNTS BASED ON NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES .................................................................. 1.2 DETERMINE REMOTE INDICATORS FOR HYDRIC SOILS ......................................................................................................... 1.3 DETERMINE REMOTE INDICATORS FOR WETLAND HYDROLOGY ........................................................................................ 1.4 DETERMINE REMOTE INDICATORS FOR HYDROPHYTIC VEGETATION ............................................................................... 1.5 DEVELOPEMENT OF THE BASE MAP .......................................................................................................................................... 2.0 FOOD SECURITY ACT OF 1985, AS AMENDED WETLAND DETERMINATION PROCESS STEP 2: ASSIGNMENT OF WC LABELS ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 2.1 VERIFICATION OF PRE–DECEMBER 23, 1985 CROPPING HISTORY ........................................................................................ 2.2 VERIFICATION OF PRE–DECEMBER 23, 1985 MANIPULATIONS ............................................................................................ 2.3 VERIFICATION OF POST–DECEMBER 23, 1985 MANIPULATION OR CONVERSION ............................................................ 2.4 VERIFICATION OF CROPPED GLACIATED POTHOLE LANDFORM ......................................................................................... 2.5 VERIFICATION OF PASTURED DEPRESSIONAL LANDFORMS ................................................................................................ 2.6 VERIFICATION OF CROPPED DEPRESSIONAL LANDFORMS ................................................................................................... 2.7 DETERMINATION OF THE REQUIRED CONDITIONS FOR WC LABELS ................................................................................. 3.0 FOOD SECURITY ACT OF 1985, AS AMENDED WETLAND DETERMINATION PROCESS STEP 3: CERTIFIED WETLAND DETERMINATION MAP ........................................................................................................................................................... 3.1 TRANSFERRING BASE MAP SAMPLING UNITS TO WC COMPLIANCE LABELED POLYGONS .......................................... 3.2 CERTIFIED WETLAND DETERMINATION (CWD) MAP .............................................................................................................. 4.0 ATTACHMENTS .............................................................................................................................................................................. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES INTRODUCTION The National Food Security Act Manual (NFSAM) provides internal agency policy related to the Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation provisions of the 1985 Food Security Act, as amended (FSA *). Part 514.7 of the NFSAM explains that the FSA wetland determination process requires a technical determination of whether the site (sampling unit) is a wetland, then a separate, independent determination of whether any exemptions to the provisions apply. Based on these two decisions, a certified wetland determination map is prepared with an appropriate Wetland Conservation (WC) label assigned to each sampling unit. The size of each area with a WC label is provided. Thus, the FSA wetland * To properly differentiate between the Food Security Act and the Farm Service Agency, ‘‘FSA’’ will refer to the 1985 Food Security Act and ‘‘Farm Services Agency’’ will be spelled out. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 determination decision includes three independent steps: Step 1: Wetland Identification, Step 2: Assignment of WC Labels and Step 3: Sizing. STEP 1: WETLAND IDENTIFICATION To accomplish the first step (wetland identification), the Secretary of Agriculture directed the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop and use offsite and onsite wetland identification procedures (7 CFR 12.30(a)(4)). The NRCS responded by providing such procedures in the NFSAM. The NFSAM Part 527 FSA Wetland Identification Procedures, as distributed through Circular 6 in December 2010, directs that NRCS will utilize Part IV: Methods, contained in the Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual (Corps Manual) for onsite and offsite determinations. The NFSAM explains that the on-site procedures contained in the Corps Manual are supplemented by the Corps Regional Supplements and PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 4 11 15 17 19 25 26 27 27 29 30 32 34 35 37 38 39 39 40 the FSA variances to the Corps Methods, as provided in Part 527 FSA Wetland Identification Procedures. STEP 2: ASSIGNMENT OF WETLAND CONSERVATION LABELS The second step (Assignment of Wetland Conservation Labels) assigns labels identified in NFSAM Part 514 to each sampling unit. The methodology for this step involves taking the Step 1: Wetland Identification, which is either ‘‘Yes, the site meets the FSA definition of a wetland’’ or ‘‘No, the site does not meet the FSA definition of a wetland’’, reviewing the data for activities that have affected the wetland nature of the site and assigning a FSA label to the sampling unit in response to the disturbances, if any, done to the area within the sampling unit. This assigning of FSA labels is a straight forward determination that the data reviewed indicates that the site meets the definition of the FSA label. E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES STEP 3: SIZING The third step is to review the ecological conditions of the site for a change in the overall size from the Step 1: Wetland Identification, to the present day with an analysis of the correctness of a specific Wetland Type Label for a specific size. This step is designed to take notice of sample units meet a FSA label of a type of wetland that then may have decreased in size after December 23, 1985, and may require a change in label to document that the sampling unit was manipulated or converted. On the other hand, an increase in the size of a sampling unit may also indicate the change in a FSA label from a type of non-wetland to wetland where an exemption still applies to the increased size and can be converted into land suitable for crop production. The FSA Wetland Identification Procedures provide that the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) offsite procedures found in Part IV, Section D, Subsection 1—‘‘Onsite Inspection Unnecessary’’ can be augmented with the development of State Offsite Methods (SOSM). The purpose of this document is to provide procedures that the NRCS in Indiana will use for rendering decisions when onsite inspection (field indicators) is unnecessary. Additionally, this document provides guidance related to the assignment of FSA labels and sizing. The SOSM incorporates by reference the current versions and pertinent sections of the following Documents (and their location): 1. National Food Security Act Manual (NFSAM) 2. 20101 Food Security Act Wetland Identification Procedures (NFSAM Part 527 Appendix) 3. 1987 United States Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual, Technical Report Y–87–1 (on-line edition) 4. USACE Regional Supplements Eastern Mountains and Piedmont, Midwest, and North Central and Northeast Regions to the ’87 Manual (on-line editions) 5. Hydrology Tools for Wetland Determination (Title 210 Engineering, National Engineering Handbook (NEH), Part 650, Engineering Field Handbook (EFH), Chapter 19) The Assignment of Wetland Types and The Sizing of Wetlands Procedures (WTSP) can be used either offsite or onsite, and both incorporate by reference the current versions and pertinent sections of NFSAM Parts 514 (Labels) and 515 (Minimal Effect and Mitigation Exemption). These labels were VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 developed to account for all of the various kinds of wetlands defined in 7CFR12.2–Wetland determinations and the different exemptions to be applied to those wetlands as found in 7 CFR 12.5(b)–Exemptions for wetlands and converted wetlands. The sizing of wetlands is a procedure to ensure that the label is correct for the entire area of the sampling unit based on the aforementioned references used for the Assignment of Wetland Types. NRCS has used Part IV of the 1987 USACE Delineation Manual as the base document for the development of SOSM while incorporating the variances from the FSA Wetland Identification Procedures without any alterations, so it is anticipated that there will be few, if any, differences with the existing wetland determination system. Paragraph (2–14) of the FSA Wetland Identification Procedures defines SOSM as ‘‘Methods developed by the NRCS for the sole purpose of supplementing the offsite methodology in the Corp Manual (decisions made using Level 1 or Level 3) for use in identifying wetlands for FSA purposes. The adoption process for State Offsite Methods will include solicitation of State Technical Committee recommendations. These methods may replace or supplement methods provided for in State Mapping Conventions.’’ Indiana NRCS presented the SOSM to the Indiana State Technical Committee on February 24, 2015 and April 9, 2015 to solicit feedback and recommendations as required in paragraph (2–14) of the FSA Wetland Identification Procedures. NRCS also presented the WTSP to the committee to demonstrate how the FSA label assignment and sizing procedure carries on the information collected to make the Wetland Identification. All of the methodologies and procedures developed for Indiana take into account unique regional, state, and local wetland characteristics. This document adheres to regulations and policies in effect as of the date of this document but may be subject to change. Specific changes required by CFR will be implemented without concurrence from other agencies while changes in methodology and procedures will be vetted with the committee. For FSA purposes, the term ‘‘wetland’’ is defined in 16 U.S.C. 3801(a)(18) as land that— A) Has a predominance of hydric soils. B) Is inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 27395 typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. C) Under normal circumstances supports a prevalence of such vegetation. According to paragraph (3–2) of the FSA Wetland Identification Procedures, ‘‘This definition is unique to the statute, and all decisions regarding the identification of FSA wetlands must be based on this definition. The statute adds further clarity to the concept of an FSA wetland by defining ‘‘hydric soil’’ and ‘‘hydrophytic vegetation’’ (as those concepts will be applied to the Wetland Conservation provisions) and by the specific direction given to the Secretary as to the hydric soils and hydrophytic vegetation criteria that must be developed by USDA (16 U.S.C. Section 3801(b)(1)).’’ Wetland identification decisions are based on conditions that are expected to occur under Normal Circumstances. The FSA Wetland Identification Procedures paragraph (2–10) defines Normal Circumstances (NC) as, ‘‘The soil and hydrologic conditions that are normally present, without regard to whether the vegetation has been removed (7 CFR 12.31(b)(2)(i)). For FSA wetland identification purposes, this concept is the consideration of normal and abnormal climate-based site changes and natural and artificial disturbancebased site changes that can create wetland identification challenges. ‘‘Normally present’’ is further explained as the vegetative, soil, and hydrologic conditions that occur under both of these conditions: a. Without regard to whether the site has been subject to drainage actions (see drainage definition) after December 23, 1985, and without regard to whether the vegetation has been removed or significantly altered. b. During the wet portion of the growing season under normal climatic conditions (normal environmental conditions).’’ The FSA Wetland Identification Procedures paragraph (2–11) defines Normal Environmental Conditions (NEC) as ‘‘The climate-based concept of NC, defined as the physical conditions, characteristics (hydrology, soil, and vegetation), or both that would exist in a typical situation (2–12) on a site during the wet portion of the growing season in a normal climatic year.’’ Normal Circumstances as used in the FSA wetland definition requires that decisions be based not on anomalies, but rather what would normally occur on the sampling unit during NEC (FSA Procedures paragraph 3–3). In the Corps methods, the concept of ‘‘normal’’ is separated into the disturbance-based E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 27396 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices concept of normal circumstances (typical/atypical situations) and the climate-based concept of normal circumstances called ‘‘normal environmental conditions’’ (NEC). The NRCS adopts this concept that a determination of ‘‘normal’’ is a twopronged consideration (FSA Procedures paragraph 3–4). For FSA purposes the agency expert will determine the normal circumstances (NC) of the sampling unit as those that would be expected to occur, (1) In the absence of post-December 23, 1985 drainage actions that alter the normal soil or hydrologic conditions. (2) In the absence of an alteration (removal or change) in the plant community such that a decision cannot be made if the site would support a prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation if undisturbed. (3) During the wet portion of the growing season during a year experiencing normal weather patterns. In the absence of direct evidence, the decision if a sampling unit meets a particular diagnostic factor (wetland hydrology, prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation, and a predominance of hydric soils) is assisted by confirmation of the presence of indicators. The use of indicators to predict the conditions that would occur under NC is referred to as the ‘‘indicator-based approach to wetland identification.’’ The presence or lack of indicators can be determined using remotely sensed data sources or onsite observations. USACE, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and NRCS use the indicatorbased approach to assist in decisionmaking. The ultimate decision if a site meets the FSA criteria for any of the three diagnostic factors is made from a preponderance of evidence, best professional judgment, and the FSA definitions and criteria of hydrophytic vegetation, hydric soils, and wetland hydrology (FSA Wetland Identification Procedures paragraph 4–3). According to Paragraph 4–4 of the FSA Wetland Identification Procedures, ‘‘The decision if the site is a Food Security Act wetland is ultimately rendered based on the determination of a presence or absence of each of the three factors under NC. Areas determined to support wetland hydrology, a prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation, and a predominance of hydric soils (all under NC), as each factor is defined by the FSA, are wetlands subject to the WC provisions of the act.’’ VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 SECTION 1 1.0—FSA WETLAND DETERMINATION PROCESS STEP 1: WETLAND IDENTIFICATION On-site Visits Required by Regulation: 7CFR12(a)(6) is cited in NFSAM Part 514.1.A(3)(v) as requiring an on-site investigation of FSA–569 ‘‘NRCS Report of HELC and WC Compliance’’ requests or whistleblower complaints. Other situations that require an on-site investigation include a specific request for an onsite determination; as a condition of withholding program benefits; servicing an appeal; or a request for a pre-conversion minimal effect determination. In addition, an on-site visit is required any time an agency expert: 1) Cannot accumulate enough offsite data to complete the decision-making process, or 2) Finds that the accumulated data do not give a clear and definitive determination. At each significant decision-making point in the offsite procedure, the agency expert will consider whether an on-site inspection procedure is needed. It is not the intent of the SOSM to always provide a determination answer. The intent of the SOSM is to provide a body of data to the agency expert that can be used to make an offsite determination if the data is of sufficient quantity and quality. If not, then the offsite data will be used to assist in making an on-site determination. Modifying the procedure— The FSA wetland determination process makes use of two parts of the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual; Paragraph 23 of the Introduction and Part IV minus the comprehensive method (NFSAM, Part 527(5–3). Paragraph 23, entitled ‘‘Flexibility’’, addresses the possibility of the need to modify the procedures. NRCS has developed modifications to the process as required by the FSA and its amendments. These modifications are incorporated into the ‘‘2010 Food Security Act Wetland Identification Procedure’’ (FSA Wetland Identification Procedure) as variances and are used in the SOSM and other procedures in this document. Paragraph 23 requires all modifications to be explained so that all variances will be cited when used. No further modifications to the SOSM or other procedures are authorized. Any need to modify the SOSM or other offsite procedures themselves is an indication that a Level 2 or Level 3 onsite determination is necessary. Locally produced evidence— PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 7 CFR 12.5(b)(7) ‘‘Responsibility to provide evidence’’ states it is the person who is seeking an exemption listed in 7 CFR 12.5(b)(1–5) to a converted wetland (any time before or after December 23, 1985) to provide evidence in seeking that exemption. It is not the NRCS’ responsibility to search for such evidence outside of this procedure; rather, it is the NRCS’ responsibility to see if the participant-provided evidence can be confirmed and to ensure that the person has had such an opportunity. Locally produced evidence will be considered as a source of data alongside all other data used to make the offsite determination. NOTE: In this instance the use of the word ‘‘converted’’ is in reference to 7CFR12.2(3), meaning a manipulation creating ground suitable for crop production at any time before or after December 23, 1985. This is not referring to the use of the FSA Labels ‘‘Converted Wetland’’ or ‘‘Converted Wetland + Year’’. INDIVIDUALS QUALIFICATIONS TO USE THESE SOSM As stated in the NFSAM in Part 514.1, ‘‘Certified wetland determinations must be completed by a qualified NRCS employee, as determined by the State Conservationist. Qualified employees (i.e., agency experts) must meet all of the following criteria: 1. Have completed all the required training, including updated courses. 2. Have the appropriate job-approval authority. 3. Have demonstrated proficiency in making certified wetland determinations. Persons using these SOSM must have the appropriate ‘‘Wetland Job Approval Authority(s)’’ delegated and documented in accordance with current NRCS policy. IDENTIFYING THE PRESENCE OF WETLANDS The first step in the wetland identification process is to subdivide the project into different areas called sampling units (FSA Procedures (2–12)) and identify each sampling unit on a base map. For each sampling unit, an independent consideration of each of the three wetland diagnostic factors is made. For each sampling unit, the agency expert must decide which level of determination outlined in ‘‘Section C: Selection of Method’’ of the USACE 1987 Wetland Delineation Manual is most appropriate as follows— • Level 1 is rendering a decision using offsite resources for each of the three factors. The assessment of each factor must be independent of the other factors and a different remote data E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES source must be used for each factor. NOTE: A single resource document (tool) can contain multiple data sources. Each can be used as an indicator for a different factor. For example, a soil survey contains multiple data sources (soils map, hydrology data, vegetative data, and use limitation data). Highaccuracy Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) derived from Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data and United States Geological Survey (USGS) topographic maps are sources for elevation data, land use data, and hydrology data (i.e. water symbols). The mandate is that a single remote data source (i.e. soil map unit) cannot be applied to more than one factor. • Level 2 is rendering a decision using on-site data, along with any useful offsite data. The exception is if Section F (Atypical Situation) or G (Problem Area) of the USACE Manual is needed. Those sections are only applied after a decision is made to use onsite methods (even if remote data sources are eventually used to render a decision). • Level 3 is rendering a decision using offsite resources (i.e. soils maps, DEMs derived from LIDAR data, etc.) for 1 or 2 factors and using onsite indicators (i.e. soil pits, drift lines, plant dominance tests) for the other factor(s). Wetland determinations are a technical decision resulting from the determination of whether an area is a wetland or non-wetland (wetland ID), including the determination of appropriate wetland type (WC compliance label) and size (FSA Wetland Identification Procedures paragraph (2–18)). Therefore, the NRCS identifies three unique and separate steps to the wetland determination process. Within the first two steps, each of the three wetland diagnostic factors must be assessed independently to determine if a decision can be rendered at the diagnostic factor level using offsite data sources. NOTES: • All agency decisions during Step 1 are made at the sampling unit level. • The term ‘‘imagery’’ refers to all forms of remotely captured imagery or photography, digital or analog, at all resolutions. • Unless otherwise stated, the use of ‘‘1985’’ in this document refers to December 23, 1985. 1.1 DEVELOPEMANT OF SAMPLING UNITS BASED ON NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES (NC) Identification of Sampling Units Gather all available sources of data and create a base map using available geospatial data to determine if wetlands exist within each sampling unit. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 Users will graphically subdivide the area of interest into sampling units on a base map image using resources A through F (as available) listed below. The base map needs to be large enough to read and record multiple sampling units in one location. Sampling unit boundaries do not need to correspond exactly to a boundary indicated by any of the resources listed below. The agency expert determines sampling unit validity. Sampling units will be located using the following remote resources: A. Based on knowledge of local conditions, review the FSA slides from prior to 1987 (regardless of annual precipitation). Each signature listed below may indicate a unique sampling unit: • Trees, saplings, shrubs and other non-agricultural vegetation. • Surface water. • Saturated conditions. • Flooded or drowned-out crops. • Stressed crops due to wetness. • Differences in vegetation due to different planting dates. • Inclusion of wet areas as set-aside or idled. • Circular or irregular areas of unharvested crops within a harvested field. • Isolated areas that are not farmed with the rest of the field. • Areas of greener vegetation (especially during dry years). B. Review the US Fish & Wildlife Service (US FWS) National Wetland Inventory (NWI) maps. While each NWI polygon not matching the other indicators may be a sampling unit, care should be taken to notice when the NWI is simply displaced from the location where other indicators are showing a unique sampling unit. This ‘‘off-center’’ displacement has been observed when matching up the Indiana NWI sites with certified wetland boundaries. C. Review DEMs derived from LIDAR data for differences in elevation indicating significant differences in land forms that may collect and hold water. D. Review the soil survey and the county hydric soils list from the NRCS Web Soil Survey. Identify listed hydric soil map units, map units with hydric soils as part of their name, soils with hydric inclusions, and map units with conventional wetland symbols. Each soil survey feature not matching the other resources above may be a sampling unit. E. Locally-produced information from individuals involved with the property related to manipulations and conversions prior to December 23, 1985. F. Review other inventory tools, if available. NOTE: The more indicators that can be assigned to a specific area, the greater PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 27397 the probability that the area qualifies as a unique sampling unit. NOTE: All land within the requested area will be assigned a sampling unit designation of ‘‘Y’’ (yes, a wetland) or ‘‘N’’ (no, not a wetland); therefore all land within the requested area will be part of a sampling unit. ➢ Proceed to the Section 1.2. For each sampling unit— 1.2 DETERMINE REMOTE INDICATORS FOR HYDRIC SOILS The term hydric soil means soil that, in its undrained condition, is saturated, flooded, or ponded long enough during a growing season to develop an anaerobic condition that supports the growth and regeneration of hydrophytic vegetation (16 U.S.C. 3801(a)(12)). Refer to Part V, subpart C, paragraphs 5–49 through 5–53, of the FSA Wetland Identification Procedures for further information and allowable variances from the Corps methods. Title 7 CFR § 12.31(a)(1) states, ‘‘NRCS shall identify hydric soils through the use of published soil maps which reflect soil surveys completed by or through the use of onsite reviews.’’ Title 7 CFR § 12.31(a)(2) states, ‘‘NRCS shall determine whether an area of a field or other parcel of land has a predominance of hydric soils that are inundated or saturated as follows:’’ i. ‘‘If a soil map unit has hydric soil as all or part of its name, that soil map unit or portion of the map unit related to the hydric soil will be determined to have a predominance of hydric soils.’’ ii. ‘‘If a soil map unit is named for a miscellaneous area that meets the criteria for hydric soils (i.e., riverwash, playas, beaches, or water) the soil map unit will be determined to have a predominance of hydric soils.’’ iii. ‘‘If a soil map unit contains inclusions of hydric soils, that portion of the soil map unit identified as hydric soil will be determined to have a predominance of hydric soils.’’ The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that the hydric soils definition is met: 1. Soils Maps (data) and County Hydric Soils Lists. Hydric Soils Decision Threshold (the factor is met if: 1. The sampling unit meets 7 CFR § 12.31(a)(2) as described above. If a soil map unit has hydric soil as part of its name or contains a hydric inclusion, that portion of the hydric component (major or minor) in the soil survey can be verified by either: a. Identifying that the landform (such as a depressional area viewed on remote data) of the sampling unit is consistent with the landform (such as closed E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1 27398 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES depression or swale) of the hydric component or inclusion; or, b. Using the soil series. ➢ Proceed to Section 1.3. 1.3 DETERMINE REMOTE INDICATORS FOR WETLAND HYDROLOGY Wetland Hydrology means inundation or saturation of the site by surface or groundwater during a growing season at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation. Refer to Part V, subpart C, paragraphs (5–56) through (5–60), of the FSA Wetland Identification Procedures for further information and allowable variances from the Corps methods. The NFSAM defines inundation as meaning ‘‘the ground is covered by water due to ponding, flowing, or flooded water.’’ Depth of the inundation is not part of the identification of the presence of hydrology. Rather, the focus of data collection and interpretation is on the time of year the inundation occurs, the length of time the inundation lasts, and how frequently it occurs over time on an annual basis. The NFSAM and the CFR do not define saturation other than being the presence of water within the soil profile that affects the presence of hydrophytic vegetation, and by inference, the absence of non-hydrophytic vegetation as a dominant plant community. Similar to the definition of inundation, the focus on data collection and interpretation is on the season, duration, and frequency of the saturation. However, saturation as a factor in affecting the prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation is dependent on proximity to the rooting depth of the plant. The 1987 USACE Wetland delineation Manual defines ‘‘saturated soil conditions’’ in the glossary as ‘‘A condition in which all easily drained voids (pore) between soil particles in the root zone are temporarily or permanently filled with water to the soil surface at pressures greater than atmospheric.’’ Wetland hydrology is defined as inundation or saturation by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions NFSAM 514.6(1). For the purposes of this method, procedure, and process, saturation is defined as the presence of groundwater or perched water at or near the surface of the soil profile within a depth of 12 inches from the soil surface during any time in the growing season. In Indiana, a site under direct observation during the growing season VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 that is dominated by hydrophytic vegetation on a hydric soil that is saturated to a depth within 12 inches of the surface is indicative of the site being either a wetland (W) or a manipulated wetland (WX), indicating partially removed hydrology after 1985, rather than a non-wetland (NW), notwithstanding contradictory indicators. The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that the wetland hydrology definition is met: 1. Imagery showing surface water inundation by ponding or flooding under NC. 2. Imagery showing a Color Tone difference due to wetness that is reflective of NC that: (a) Was occurring on the date of the imagery, or (b) that occurred previous to the imagery but the evidence of this wetting event remains evident. Refer to Attachment C. Color tones provide clear distinctions in the condition of the sampling unit compared to the condition in the surrounding area including size and color. Color tones include: • Hydrophytic vegetation such as trees, saplings, shrubs, and other nonagricultural plants. • Saturated condition. • Stressed crops due to wetness. • Differences in vegetation due to different planting dates. • Inclusion of wet areas as set-aside or idled. • Circular or irregular areas of unharvested crops within a harvested field. • Isolated areas that are not farmed with the rest of the field. • Areas of greener vegetation (especially during dry years). Æ Users are advised that sampling units and wetness signatures in areas with perennial vegetation may not be readily visible. In such cases, field verification is required. 3. The presence of mineral soil flats that have not been manipulated such that the microtopography of the soil surface has been leveled, or that the area has been altered by surface drain patterns or subsurface drainage. Clermont, Cobbsfork, and Peoga soils are currently the soil types that are included in the mineral soil flats reference site in Indiana. Wetland Hydrology (including pre-1985 drainage) Decision Threshold is met with the proper combination of the following indicators: 1. The presence of water as indicated by signatures on imagery or a soil survey with the area labeled as ‘‘Water’’ or ‘‘Miscellaneous Water’’, OR PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 2. The presence of mineral soil flats that have not been tilled or leveled, or altered by surface drain patterns or subsurface drainage. Clermont, Cobbsfork, and Peoga soils are currently the soil types that are included in the mineral soil flats reference site in Indiana, OR 3. Wetness signatures found on greater than 50 percent of imagery reviewed with consideration given to the actual environmental conditions at the time of data collection (wet, dry, normal). • The imagery review will consist of all available imageries prior to 1988. The 1987 imagery is to be used only to verify subsequent effects of drainage installed prior to 1985. Imagery from 1979 to 1986 will be interpreted with consideration of whether it is reflective of normal, wet, or dry amounts of precipitation. NOTE: Imagery from years that are considered wet or dry years are an indicator only if they have contrarian indicators (i.e.—wet signatures in a dry year or no signatures on a wet year). See attachment C ‘‘Hydrology Information’’ for information on the use of normal year data. • Publically available high-resolution leaf-off imagery taken in the early spring can be used to determine presence of wetland signatures, taking care not to factor in any post-December 23, 1985 manipulations and conversions. • NRCS is invoking Paragraph 23 of the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual for agricultural land determinations. For a sample unit that has been identified by the Farm Service Agency as having an agricultural commodity produced at least once prior to 1985 and does not support woody vegetation on 1985, the only FSA labels that are applicable are Prior Converted Cropland (PC), Non-Wetland (NW), and Farmed Wetland (FW). The absence of hydrology indicators on a majority of imagery taken prior to 1987 indicates either a PC or NW determination. Hydrophytic vegetation criteria can be by-passed by documenting that an agricultural commodity was produced prior to 1985. The soils map will indicate either a PC label for hydric soils or a NW label for non-hydric soils. The FW label will be used if a majority of the aforementioned imagery has the hydrology indicators of surface water or long-term inundation (10% consecutive days of inundation during the wet part of the growing season (i.e.—March, April, May) such as non-agricultural herbaceous vegetation or bare soil with slow drawdown signatures. These labels E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices can be applied without applying the remainder of the SOSM. NOTE: Care will be taken to identify False Positive and Negative situations. Æ An FW label will be changed to W if the site is abandoned for five consecutive years at any time after 1985. Æ A NW label due to the conversion of a wetland prior to 1985 will be changed to W if the three criteria return. Æ An herbaceous Wetland (W) or a Farmed Wetland Pasture (FWP) can present subtle signatures on the imagery such as simple vegetative color variation but with a consistent footprint. Æ FWP’s can also be abandoned to the W label, OR ANY TWO OF THE FOLLOWING INDICATORS: 1. High-accuracy Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) derived from LIDAR. 2. Depth Grid modeled from high accuracy digital elevation models. 3. Short term-inundation modelled from stream gauge data. 4. National Wetland Inventory (NWI) maps produced by the US FWS. 5. Soil Survey map with wetness spot symbols. 6. Soil Survey map with linear spot symbols associated with imagery wetness signatures. 7. USGS Topographical map with wetness spot symbol. AND Producer-provided records indicate that drainage has been installed or constructed prior to 1985, a. And has been maintained and is functioning such that the lack of hydrology indicators can be explained, or that such indicators are potential false positive hydrology indicators. b. If no producer-provided records are available, then the agency expert is to presume maintenance has been conducted on any drainage features installed prior to 1985 and any wetness signatures observed are valid (indicating any potential system has not adequately removed hydrology) and are not false positive indicators. ➢ Proceed to Section 1.4. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 1.4 DETERMINE REMOTE INDICATORS FOR HYDROPHYTIC VEGETATION Hydrophytic vegetation means a plant growing in (A) water; or (B) a substrate that is at least periodically deficient in oxygen during a growing season as a result of excessive water content (16 U.S.C. 3801(a)(11)). Refer to Part V, subpart C, paragraphs (5–41) through (5–46), of the FSA Wetland Identification Procedures for further information and allowable variances VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 from the Corps methods in identification of hydrophytic vegetation. The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that the hydrophytic vegetation definition is met. See Attachment A for a detailed description of each resource: 1. Ecological Site Descriptions (ESD). 2. Approved Indiana NRCS wetland reference site data as it is developed. 3. Indiana Hydric Soil and Vegetative Correlation List 4. Locally developed soil map units and plant association lists. 5. National Wetland Inventory (NWI) mapping. 6. Indiana Approved Official Soil Series Descriptions (OSD) plant data. 7. Prior land-based (on the ground) photography. Hydrophytic Vegetation Decision Threshold (the factor is met if): One or more of the listed resources will indicate the presence of hydrophytic vegetation. NOTE: Attention should be given to the definition being ‘‘Plants growing in water or in a substrate that is as least periodically deficient in oxygen during the growing season as a result of saturation or inundation by water’’. Variance 5–42 of the FSA Wetland Identification Procedure states ‘‘For FSA purposes, the question is not as much the species, but rather how individual plants are behaving within any one sampling unit.’’ Any individual plant meeting the definition is considered to be hydrophytic vegetation. ➢ Proceed to Step 1.5 1.5 FINALIZATION OF BASE MAP The agency expert will analyze each sampling unit as defined in Steps 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4 and use a worksheet to complete the following steps: • If all three factor answers are ‘‘yes’’ (the factors are met) for a sampling unit then record a ‘‘Y’’ (yes) on the base map for the sampling unit. • If any factor answer is ‘‘no’’ (a factor is not met) for a sampling unit then record an ‘‘N’’ (no) on the base map for the sampling unit. • Provide a copy of the final base map to the case file. • This final base map will be used to complete Section 2 and Section 3. NOTE: Part IV of the 1987 USCAE Wetland Delineation Manual instructs the user to label the wetland ‘‘W’’ and the nonwetland ‘‘N’’. NRCS is using the label ‘‘Y’’ in place of the ‘‘W’’ so as not to cause confusion with the use of ‘‘W’’ as an FSA Wetland Type Label in section 2. ➢ Proceed to Section 2 PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 27399 SECTION 2 2.0—FSA WETLAND DETERMINATION PROCESS STEP 2: ASSIGNMENT OF WETLAND CONSERVATION COMPLIANCE (WC) LABELS Sampling units identified as a ‘‘Y’’ (wetland) or ‘‘N’’ (non-wetland) in Section 1 will be assigned the appropriate WC compliance label as determined by any applicable exemptions found in the current version of the NFSAM. The offsite process for this step is identified as the State Offsite Wetland Type and Size Procedure (SOWTP). This is a separate procedure from the SOSM. NOTE: Unless otherwise stated, the use of ‘‘1985’’ in this document refers to December 23, 1985. 2.1 VERIFICATION OF PRE-1985 CROPPING HISTORY The following data will be used to indicate that pre-1985 cropping history (‘‘agricultural commodity produced at least once before 1985’’ (7 CFR 12.2)) is met. This step may have already been carried out in step 1.3. If so then this section need not be used unless there is a possibility of a false positive or negative determination 1. Any imagery taken prior to 1986. 2. Farm Service Agency records of any kind. 3. Any record from a person who was involved in the farming operation before December 23, 1985 that demonstrates that the site was cropped and appears to be valid. 4. Areas that are in pasture or hay land that have a uniform topography that indicates suitability as a crop field in past years. This condition does not preclude the use of wetland labels. Cropping History Decision Threshold (met if): The threshold to use crop production as an eligible wetland exemptions has three parts: 1. The site is determined to be ‘‘N’’ (Non Wetland) on the Base Map. a. There may be situations with the Base Map being marked ‘‘Y’’ when the site may be determined to have cropping history with the use of steps #2 and #3 (resulting in a FW label). 2. The site was cropped at least once prior to December 23, 1985— a. Evidence of Pre-1985 cropping appears on at least one piece of remote imagery. b. Pre-1985 imagery indicates that the site was cleared of woody vegetation and the mapped soil type is commonly suited for crop production (as indicated on ‘‘Use and Vegetation’’ section of the Official Soil Description). E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1 27400 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices c. Farm Service Agency informs NRCS of cropping history. d. An individual provides a written statement of when the site was cropped or imagery demonstrating so. 3. The site was suitable for crop production on December 23, 1985 (can use a and/or b)— a. 1985 or 1986 imagery indicates the site— i. Is being cropped, or ii. Is being used for pasture or hayland production absent of wetland indicators, or iii. Is not inundated with surface water, or iv. Does not contain woody vegetation such that: 1. Only isolated individual specimens that would not hinder conventional row planting are observed, and 2. There are not so many trees that a non-ag determination should be completed. b. The Farm Services Agency informs NRCS of 1985 cropping history, ‘‘setaside’’ history, or other status indicating that the site was suitable for crop production. ➢ Proceed to Section 2.2. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 2.2 VERIFICATION OF PREDECEMBER 23, 1985 MANIPULATION(S) Manipulations are defined by regulation as an activity that drains, dredges, fills, levels, or otherwise manipulates, including the removal of woody vegetation, or any activity that results in impairing or reducing the flow and circulation of water, for the purpose of or to have the effect of making possible the production of an agricultural commodity. The analysis related to pre-1985 manipulations has been completed in Step 1–1.1 DEVELOP A BASE MAP AND DETERMINATION OF NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES (NC). Evidence of pre-1985 manipulations presented during the following steps in the FSA label determination step should be applied to the steps in Section 1 (Developing the Base Map) to determine if the analysis completed in Section 2 needs reconsidered. 2.3A VERIFICATION OF POST-1985 POTENTIAL MANIPULATION AND/ OR CONVERSION The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that a post-1985 potential conversion occurred. • Post-1986 imagery/aerial photography showing a manipulation(s). • Post-1985 NRCS or Farm Service Agency records showing a manipulation(s). • Post-1985 producer-provided records showing a manipulation(s). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 • Post-1985 land-based photographs showing a manipulation(s). • DEMs derived from LIDAR data showing a manipulation. Post-1985 Potential Conversion Decision Threshold (the factor is met if): 1. The manipulation appears on at least one indicator from post-1985 data. NOTE: A site visit is required for potential wetland violations and a FSA– 569 will be issued. Refer to 7CFR12 and NFSAM 514.1 to determine the circumstances that require a site visit. 2.3B VERIFICATION OF POTENTIAL MANIPULATION OR CONVERSION BETWEEN DECEMBER 23, 1985 AND NOVEMBER 28, 1990 The following remote indicators will be used to indicate whether a potential manipulation or conversion occurred before or after November 28, 1990. • Imagery/aerial photography showing a manipulation(s) after December 23, 1985 but before November 28, 1990 (NFSAM Part 514). • NRCS or Farm Service Agency records showing a manipulation(s) after December 23, 1985 but before November 28, 1990. • Producer-provided records showing a manipulation(s) after December 23, 1985 but before November 28, 1990. • Land-based photographs showing a manipulation(s) after December 23, 1985 but before November 28, 1990. • DEMs derived from LIDAR data indicating a manipulation after December 23, 1985 but before November 28, 1990. Pre-1990 Potential Conversion Decision Threshold (the factor is met if): 1. The manipulation appears on at least one indicator from data representing conditions between December 23, 1985 and November 28, 1990. NOTE: A site visit is required for potential wetland violations and a FSA– 569 will be issued. Refer to 7CFR12 and NFSAM 514.1 to determine the circumstances that require a site visit. 2.3C VERIFICATION OF POTENTIAL MANIPULATION OR CONVERSION AFTER NOVEMBER 28, 1990 The following remote indicators will be used to indicate whether a potential manipulation or conversion occurred after November 28, 1990. • Imagery/aerial photography showing a manipulation(s) after November 28, 1990 (NFSAM Part 514). • NRCS or Farm Service Agency records showing a manipulation(s) after November 28, 1990. PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 • Producer provided records showing a manipulation(s) after November 28, 1990. • Land-based photographs showing a manipulation (e.g. tile inlet/outlet) after November 28, 1990. • DEMs derived from LIDAR data indicating a manipulation after November 28, 1990. Post-1990 Potential Conversion Decision Threshold (the factor is met if): 1. The manipulation appears on at least one indicator representing conditions after November 28, 1990. NOTE: A site visit is required for potential wetland violations and a FSA– 569 will be issued. Refer to 7CFR12 and NFSAM 514.1 to determine the circumstances that require a site visit. ➢ Proceed to Section 2.4, 2.5, or 2.6 as appropriate. These sections identify land forms that meet the definition of depressional Farmed Wetlands, closed depressional Farmed Wetlands known as potholes, and Farmed Wetland Pastures. Proceed to section 2.7 if none of these are appropriate. 2.4 VERIFICATION OF CROPPED GLACIATED CLOSED DEPRESSIONAL LANDFORM COMPLETE THIS STEP ONLY IF A Pre-December 23, 1985 MANIPULATION WAS DOCUMENTED The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that the site is a glaciated depression or land form that does not have topography that allows accumulated surface water to flow offsite such that it meets the definition of a Farmed Wetland pothole (FW). 1. Imagery, land-based photography, or other data show evidence that 7 consecutive days of inundation or 14 consecutive days saturation occurs in a closed topographic depression in a glaciated upland (non-floodplain, nondrainage way) landscape during the growing season. The term upland follows the concept from the national Soil Survey Handbook (NSSH). Imagery evidence includes— a. Surface water. b. Flooded or drowned out crops. c. Vegetative color variation. d. Stressed crops. e. Un-harvested crops. f. Isolated areas not farmed with the rest of the field. g. Non-agricultural vegetation. 2. DEMS derived from LIDAR show a closed topographic depression in a glaciated upland landscape position. 3. USGS Topographic map or other land survey shows a closed topographic depression in a glaciated upland landscape position. E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices 4. Soil Survey data show a depression, pothole, or closed topographic depression in a glaciated upland landscape position. Refer to Attachment B for further information. 5. A combination of US FWS NWI map and one other indicator from step 1.3. Glaciated Closed Depression Decision Threshold is met if: A. The landform appears on at least one of the five remote indicators. The more indicators that can be assigned to a specific area, the greater the probability that it qualifies as a glaciated closed depressional area that meets the definition of a Farmed Wetland (FW). OR B. NRCS records show field-verified manipulations with an assessment of duration, such as drainage equations found in the National Engineering Handbook, Chapter 19. ➢ Document and proceed to the section 2.5. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 2.5 VERIFICATION OF PASTURED OPEN-ENDED DEPRESSIONAL AREAS WITH CONSECUTIVE LENGTH (DURATION) OF PONDING AND/OR SATURATION DURING THE GROWING SEASON ON DECEMBER 23, 1985 IN MOST YEARS COMPLETE THIS STEP ONLY IF A Pre-December 23, 1985 MANIPULATION WAS DOCUMENTED The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that sites that have been manipulated but still warrant a ‘‘Y’’ on the Base Map exhibit the duration of inundation or saturation required to meet the criteria for pasture and hay land that contains depressions or other topography sufficient to allow water to accumulate such that it meets the definition of a Farmed Wetland Pasture (FWP). 1. 1980 through 1986 Farm Service Agency aerial imagery (taken during the growing season as defined in Part 514.2 of the NFSAM) showing wetness signatures. Imagery evidence includes the following signatures — a. Surface water. b. Flooded or drowned out crops. c. Vegetative color variation. d. Stressed crops. e. Un-harvested crops. f. Isolated areas not farmed with the rest of the field. g. Non-agricultural vegetation. 2. DEMS derived from LIDAR show a closed topographic depression in a glaciated upland landscape position. 3. USGS Topographic map or other land survey shows a closed topographic depression in a glaciated upland landscape position. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 4. Soil Survey data show a depression, pothole, or closed topographic depression in a glaciated upland landscape position. Refer to Attachment B for further information. 5. A combination of FWS NWI map and one other indicator from 1–3. Pastured Open-ended Depressional Areas Decision Threshold is met if: A. The landform appears on at least one of the four remote indicators. The more indicators that can be assigned to a specific area, the greater the probability that the area qualifies as a glaciated open-ended depression that meets the definition of a Farmed Wetland Pasture (FWP). OR B. NRCS records show field-verified manipulations with an assessment of duration, such as drainage equations found in the National Engineering Handbook, Chapter 19. 2.6 VERIFICATION OF CROPPED OPEN-ENDED DEPRESSIONAL AREAS WITH CONSECUTIVE LENGTH (DURATION) OF PONDING AND/OR SATURATION DURING THE GROWING SEASON ON DECEMBER 23, 1985 IN MOST YEARS COMPLETE THIS STEP (2.6) ONLY IF A Pre-December 23, 1985 MANIPULATION WAS DOCUMENTED The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that sites that have been manipulated but still warrant a ‘‘Y’’ on the Base Map exhibit the duration of inundation or saturation required to meet the criteria for cropland that contains depressions or other topography sufficient to allow water to accumulate in order to meet the definition of a Farmed Wetland (FW). 1. 1980 through 1986 Farm Service Agency aerial imagery (taken during the growing season as defined in Part 514.2 of the NFSAM) showing wetness signatures. Any other 1986 or earlier aerial photography may also be used. Imagery evidence is limited to— • Surface water. • Drowned out crops leaving bare soil indicating long-term inundation (‘‘bullseye’’ pattern). • Non-ag vegetation on hydric soils. 2. NRCS records show field-verified manipulations with an assessment of duration, such as drainage equations found in the National Engineering Handbook, Chapter 19. 3. A combination of FWS NWI map and one other indicator from 1–3. Open-Ended Depressional Decision Threshold is met if: A. The landform appears on at least one of the three remote indicators. The PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 27401 more indicators that can be assigned to a specific area, the greater the probability that the area qualifies as a glaciated open-ended depression that meets the definition of a Farmed Wetland Pasture (FWP). OR B. Results of analytical techniques (such as drainage equation(s)) show that inundation would not be removed within 15 days or consecutive days of 10% of the growing season. ➢ Document and proceed to section 2.7. 2.7 DETERMINATION OF THE REQUIRED CONDITIONS FOR THE FOLLOWING WC LABELS Refer to Part 514 of the NFSAM, 7 CFR 12.2 and 7 CFR 12.5 for a full discussion of the requirements for various exemptions. The SOSM has determined whether the sampling unit is considered a Wetland (Y) or a NonWetland (N). 7CFR12 lists the possible Wetland Types— • Artificial Wetland (AW)— 7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(1) • Commenced Conversion Wetland (CC)—7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(2) & 12.5(b)(2) • Converted Wetland (CW or CW+Year)—7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(3) & 12.4(a)(2)&(3) • Converted Wetland not for the production of commodity crops (No label)—7CFR12.5(b)(1)(iv) • Farmed Wetland—depressional or pothole (FW)—7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(4) • Farmed-Wetland Pasture (FWP)— 7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(5) • Minimal Effect Wetland (MW)— 7CFR12.5(b)(1)(v) • Not-Inventoried Wetland (No label)—7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(6) • Non-Wetland (NW)—7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(7) • Prior-Converted Cropland (PC)— 7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(8) • Wetland (W)—7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(9) All other WC compliance label assignments require the use of the NFSAM and on-site investigations. These include— • Converted Wetland by Entity (CW)—7CFR12.5(D) • Converted Wetland Planting Violation (CW)—7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(3) & 12.4(a)(2) • Converted Wetland + Year (CW+Yr)—7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(3) & 12.4(a)(3) • Manipulated Wetland (WX)— 7CFR12.5(b)(1)(iv) • Third Party Conversion (TP)— 7CFR12.5(D) E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1 27402 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices SECTION 3.0 3.0 FSA WETLAND DETERMINATION PROCESS STEP 3: DETERMINATION OF SIZE AND DEVELOPMENT OF CERTIFIED WETLAND DETERMINATION MAP The agency expert will analyze the final product to ensure that the size of the labeled area is accurate, particularly in response to post 1985 developments. Sample units and WC labeled areas will be adjusted to ensure that the labeled area accurately reflects the 1985 status and any changes created after that year. 3.1 TRANSFERRING BASE MAP SAMPLING UNITS TO WC COMPLIANCE LABELED POLYGONS The agency expert will, as appropriate, further divide or combine the sampling units identified in Section 2.0 into labeled polygons for the certified wetland determination map. This decision is based on the answers to the steps in Section 2 (e.g. closed depression/open depression, cropping history, manipulation, hydrology duration). 3.2 CERTIFIED WETLAND DETERMINATION (CWD) MAP The Certified Determination Map will be depicted on the latest imagery that appears to be of normal precipitation. The map will contain labels for all areas that have certified determinations and preliminary determinations. The map will be of sufficient scale so that the determined areas can be easily seen. Additional maps can be made to better show site location, location of farm, and past activities on the farm to show manipulation and conversion. ATTACHMENT A asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Hydrophytic Vegetation Information The following resources are listed in Part IV of the USACE 1987 Wetland Delineation Manual or are resources developed after the issuance of the Manual. Ecological Site Description (ESD) As of the date of issuance of these SOSM, ESDs are currently being developed in Indiana. Once completed, a matrix correlating soil map unit components to ecological sites will be available in Section 1, State Offsite Methods, of the Indiana Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG). Ecological Site Descriptions and Range Site Descriptions are based on relative weight of component species, rather than the percent cover measure cited in the Corps Methods. Both measures are viable for determining the ecological significance of the species VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 comprising the plant community. This use of these data is authorized in Paragraph 55-Step 4(c) and (d) of the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. Approved Indiana NRCS wetland reference site data as it is developed. Indiana NRCS will develop wetland reference site data through formal longterm water table monitoring and data demonstrating that a specific soil type has both positive hydrology and a plant community dominated by hydrophytic vegetation. These reference site data are currently being developed for Cobbsfork and similar soils in Southern Indiana. The use of these data is authorized in Paragraph 55-Step 4(d) and (h) of the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. Indiana NRCS Wetland Soils and Vegetative Correlation Data Indiana NRCS will maintain and continually build a list of vegetative species observed, correlated with specific soil series, from past and future on-site determinations. In addition to this ‘‘master’’ correlated list, the certified agency experts may make use of their own accumulation of past determinations to indicate the presence of hydrophytic vegetation, particularly if a reference site is near the site to be determined. The use of these data is authorized in Paragraph 55-Step 4(d) and (h) of the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. Locally Developed Soil and Plant association lists Certified agency experts can make use of previous determination data that demonstrates a correlation between specific soil types and observed plant communities dominated by hydrophytic vegetation. The use of these data is authorized in Paragraph 55-Step 4(d), (f), and (h) of the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetland Inventory (NWI) Mapping The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Web site ‘‘Wetland Mapper’’ contains a list of vegetative species correlated to their specific wetland classifications. The use of these data is authorized in Paragraph 55-Step 4(b) of the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual Official Soil Series Descriptions (OSD) The official soil series descriptions provide a description of the vegetation adapted to the soil in a section entitled ‘‘Use and Vegetation’’. The description of the vegetation can range from listing specific species to only providing a PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 general description such as ‘‘Native vegetation is water tolerant sedges, reeds, grasses, and shrubs.’’ Indiana NRCS is in the process of developing a state-wide list of all of the listed soil series, indicating which descriptions can be used to indicate hydrophytic vegetation and which soil series descriptions are being updated to provide specific species information. The use of these data is authorized in Paragraph 55-Step 4(d) and (g) of the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual ATTACHMENT B DEFINITION OF POTHOLE The NRCS will use the definition of pothole, playa, and pocosin as noted below. This definition is subject to change via the rule-making process. However, any change in definition will not change the soils the state considers pothole, playa, or pocosin soils. • Pothole—Pothole means a closed or partially closed depressional wetlands, generally circular or elliptical in shape, that were formed during the Wisconsin Glaciation. Potholes can occur in an outwash plain, a recessional moraine, lacustrine plain, or a till plain and commonly contain an intermittent or seasonal pond or marsh. Many pothole wetlands are seasonally dry, retaining water and saturated soil conditions due to snow-melt and precipitation runoff early in the growing season. Later in the growing season, evapotranspiration generally exceeds normal precipitation resulting in some potholes being dry for a significant portion of the year. The fluctuating hydrology, along with alterations implemented to improve farming, lead to a variety of vegetation characteristics including submergent and floating plants in deeper water, bulrushes and cattails in shallow water and sedges located near adjacent uplands. During dry periods, upland plant species can invade these sites and persist into wet seasons. NOTE: This definition is a mutually agreed-to definition by both Indiana and Illinois NRCS to describe the glaciated pothole region present in both states. • Specific Indiana identification parameters are: Æ Occurs within the Wisconsin glaciated region. Æ Symmetrically closed depression. Æ Ponds water greater than 1 foot in depth if not drained. Æ Side slopes dominantly greater than 2%. Æ Has a ≥50% chance of being ponded for at least 7 consecutive days or is saturated for at least 14 consecutive days during the growing season. E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices • In Indiana, Potholes are located primarily in the upper half of the Wisconsin Glaciated Region and include, but are not limited to, the following soil series with the modifier ‘‘pothole’’: Æ Harpster sil, pothole Æ Milford msic, pothole Æ Milford sl, pothole Æ Milford sicl, pothole Æ Pella sicl, pothole Æ Peotone sicl, pothole Æ Walkill l, pothole Æ Warners sil, pothole ATTACHMENT C asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES HYDROLOGY INFORMATION 1. Hydrology information will be developed using Chapter 19 of the NRCS National Engineering Field Handbook— I. Part 650.1901—‘‘Use of stream and lake gauges (pages 19–2 to 19–5) i. This part may be used whenever there are data developed for such use. II. Part 650.1911—‘‘Remote Sensing Applications’’ (pages 19–85 to 19–96) i. This part is to be used to determine the presence of hydrology. III. The use of the other parts of Chapter 19 will only be with the assistance of NRCS engineering specialists. IV. NRCS will use Purdue Extension Publication AY–300, June 2001, ‘‘Drainage and Wet Soil Management— Drainage Recommendations for Indiana Soils’’. i. The guide provides a tile spacing distance range for each group of soils with a similar drainage capability. ii. The guide will be used to determine how far back to set a tile line from an herbaceous wetland, a farmed wetland, or a farmed wetland pasture. 1. Each person receiving such a guide will be advised to use the maximum spacing range as a setback distance. 2. Each person receiving such a guide will be advised that wetland labels such as W–Wetland, FW–Farmed Wetland, or FWP-–armed Wetland Pasture will be changed to CW+Year if they are affected by the installation of new tiles, even if laid according to the guide. 3. A Technical Assistance Note or a copy of the guide will be placed in the casefile of every person receiving the guide. 2. The use of Farm Service Agency aerial imagery will serve two purposes— I. The identification of wetlands and non-wetlands as of December 23, 1985. Consequently, the slides to be used are limited to those taken before 1987 as the intent of the interpretation is for the Wetland Identification prior to 1985. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 Slides and imagery post-1986, such as the 2005 infrared and other high resolution imagery, may be used to help identify ground and topographical conditions but not in the identification of wetlands under typical conditions. II. The occurrence of atypical activities in wetlands after December 23, 1985. Slides taken after 1986 are used for three purposes— i. To indicate if a wetland was manipulated. ii. To determine if a wetland was converted between December 23, 1985 and November 28, 1990, and if it was converted—what year, if any, was it used for the production of an annual commodity crop after the conversion. iii. To determine what year, if any, was a wetland converted after November 28, 1990, to make it suitable for the production of a commodity crop. 3. Normal Precipitation— The terms ‘‘normal precipitation imagery’’, ‘‘normal precipitation’’, or ‘‘normal years’’ is referring to a period of time where normal amounts of precipitation were received by the site. The time frame is normally 3 months. The amount of precipitation received by a specific area is arrived by using the procedure outlined in Part 650.1903— ‘‘Supplemental data for remote sensing’’ (pages 19–24 to 19–31). This same procedure is used to determine if a site, during a specific date or time frame, received precipitation amounts within the range of normal rainfall or outside of the normal range with excessive amounts of precipitation, considered ‘‘wet’’, or low amounts of precipitation, considered ‘‘dry’’. ATTACHMENT D DESCRIPTION OF AVAILABLE REMOTE SENSING TOOLS Ten (10) potential sources of information are described within Part IV, Section B of the 1987 Manual. This section describes some of the sources listed in the manual, defines additional sources that NRCS may use to complete the CWD process. A source not being mentioned in this section should not be interpreted as that source being invalidated. The delineator should attempt to utilize all available sources of information when completing the SOSM. United States Geological Survey (USGS) 7.5 Minute Series Quadrangle Maps NRCS employees are provided with the official USGS topographic maps within agency Geographic Information Systems (GIS). USGS topographic maps and other spatial data may also be PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 27403 accessed at: http://nationalmap.gov/ via ‘‘The National Map Viewer.’’ Topographic maps provide marsh or swamp symbols for wetter areas and the general agricultural status of the land relative to the date of the map (e.g. cleared ground that could be either cropland or pastureland, forested, or urban). Water bodies such as streams and ponds are identified and manipulations to those waters such as channelization or existing levees may be noted. Site relief is one of the most important aspects of the topographic map. Contours enable decisions relative to the site’s ability to charge and retain wetness, and to recognize drainage patterns. Topographic map limitations 1. Check the date on the map or in the metadata for the date of revision. This may help determine a time range when changes occurred. 2. USGS protocol was generally to delineate the wet areas mapped based on the driest season of the year, which may have missed several wetlands. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetland Inventory (NWI) The National Wetland Inventory (NWI) is an offsite delineation of potential wetlands. The NWI is an available tool that mapped potential wetlands when wetland losses were accelerating in the 1970’s and 80’s due to agricultural conversions and other wetland stressors. The NWI is accepted by USFWS, USACOE, EPA and NRCS as a first cut indicator tool for the presence of wetlands. NRCS employees are provided with the most up to date version of NWI data that is compatible with agency Geographic Information Systems and tools. NWI data can also be obtained directly from USFWS at http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/. Plant community and hydrologic condition are key components of the NWI interpretation and these interpretations were made at a time critical for making decisions relative to the FSA. Because the first iterations of NWI were commenced in the 1970’s, the historical data provides an indication of the status of wetlands around the critical December 23, 1985 date. Hydrologic condition was interpreted using several water regime modifiers. The 1987 Corps Wetland Delineation Manual states in Part IV, Section B chapter 54 that areas mapped as ‘‘wetter’’ than temporarily flooded and intermittently flooded have extremely high probabilities of meeting the wetland criteria (in excess of 90 percent). The historical NWI also indicates possible manipulations to E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1 27404 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices wetlands that were photo-interpreted from the base map utilized in the evaluation. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES NWI limitations 1. The NWI mapping protocol was developed prior to the accepted federal definition of wetlands contingent on the three parameters of soils, hydrology, and plants. Consequently, some of the early delineations may have only been based on the two parameters of hydrology and plant species. This was somewhat corrected with soils between the draft remote sensing interpretations and the final interpretations. 2. The inventory was remotely sensed with generally no more than 5% ground-truthing in any given state. 3. The inventory often fails to capture open land wetlands, such as farmed wetlands, as defined under the Food Security Act of 1985, as amended, because of cropping activities and/or disturbance of plant communities. NRCS Soil Survey Soils information is a primary tool for making offsite wetland determinations. NRCS employees and the general public have access to the most up to date soils data via agency GIS systems as well as Web Soil Survey (WSS) at http:// websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov. Field office business software or the WSS have reports available that will produce both spatial and tabular reports/lists for hydric soils. Currently this report for individual parcels should be a subset of the ‘‘County Hydric Soils List’’ which is referenced in many documents. Field office business software rates each map unit. Map units are designated as ‘‘all hydric,’’ ‘‘partially hydric,’’ ‘‘not hydric,’’ or ‘‘unknown hydric,’’ depending on the rating of its respective components. ‘‘All hydric’’ means that all components listed for a given map unit are rated as being hydric, while ‘‘not hydric’’ means that all components are rated as not hydric. ‘‘Partially hydric’’ refers to a soil that has at least one component of the map unit that is rated as hydric and at least one component that is rated as not hydric. ‘‘Unknown hydric’’ indicates that at least one component is not rated so a definitive rating for the map unit cannot be made. In Web Soil Survey, there are multiple reports that provide hydric soil information. ‘‘Hydric Rating by Map Unit’’ indicates the cumulative percentage of soil components within each map unit that meet the criteria for hydric soils. A related report, ‘‘Hydric Rating by Map Unit (5 categories)’’ further designates a hydric category for each map unit based on the cumulative VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 percentage of its hydric components. The ‘‘Hydric Soils List’’ provides the hydric/non-hydric status of all map unit components in the survey area. The ‘‘Hydric Soils’’ report lists only those map units that have at least one component that is hydric. The percentages of hydric or non-hydric soil components found in each report for any map unit are only an estimate. These estimates were derived from field observations taken by soil scientists during the soil survey but will vary for any map unit from one location to the next. The decision to use SOSM (remote sensing) versus an onsite visit for possible hydric soil inclusions is a primary objective of this methodology. Soil Survey limitations The published soils data is a tool that provides evidence to the possible presence of a wetland. Some of the limitations to the published soil survey relative to offsite hydric soil determinations are as follows: 1. All soil surveys rely on data that were gathered during a specific period of time. Land use changes or manipulations from natural or human events may now result in inaccurate soils data. Additionally, some wetlands, such as floodplain wetlands, naturally evolve over time into non-wetlands. 2. A ‘‘hydric soil’’ component listed in the report may have properties that do meet hydric soil criteria. However, the entire range of characteristics of soil components classified to the series level may not be entirely within the range of properties for a ‘‘hydric soil.’’ Hydric soil criteria were developed separately from Soil Taxonomy. Therefore, any given component (series) may have a range of characteristics that is not entirely within the range for hydric soils even though the series is poorly or very poorly drained. 3. Almost all of the soil maps in the state were originally drawn at a relatively small scale so some minor displacement of soil lines may be observed. Additionally, much of the digital spatial data available were created by recompiling and digitizing these hard copy maps. Errors such as mislabeled map units and spatial displacement are accidentally introduced as a result of the analog to digital conversion process. If an error is suspected for any reason, an original hard copy of the information should be consulted when available. USGS Stream Gauge Data Stream gauge data may be a useful tool in some parts of the state for determining the hydrologic criteria of PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 potential riverine wetlands subject to long duration flooding. Sites subject to long duration flooding (or ponding) that occurs during the growing season for 14 or more consecutive days > 50% of years under normal circumstances will meet the criteria of a wetland if the site also supports a prevalence of hydrophytic plants. Long duration periods of surface inundation meet both the hydrologic criteria of a wetland (14 or more days) and the hydric soil criteria of a wetland (7 or more days). Typically this method requires that the flood elevation be extrapolated across the landscape between gauges in order to analyze the potential of individual sites. Stream Gauge Data Limitations 1. Current stream gauge data coverage and subsequent analyses are limited in Indiana. Remote Sensing Including Farm Service Agency Aerial Photography There are three basic film bands for the imagery available through the NHAP, NAPP, and NAIP: Color infrared (CIR), Natural Color (NC), and Black/ White (BW). The currently acquired imagery by Farm Service Agency, NAIP, is digital ortho-imagery acquired during the agricultural growing season (leaf on) and the Farm Service Agency uses this imagery as a tool primarily to verify agricultural conditions for USDA programs. The NAIP provides one meter ground sample distance (GSD) orthoimagery rectified within +/¥6 meters to true ground at a 95% confidence level. From the 1980s through the 1990s, the Farm Service Agency purchased countywide high altitude flights for resource assessments and verification of fields planted and types of crops grown. The spring flights make these sources of imagery very valuable for wetland determinations because they occur during the normal hydrologic period of recharge for the majority of the wetlands in the state. The Farm Service Agency Aerial Photography Field Office (http://www.FSA.usda.gov/FSA/ apfoapp?area=apfohome&subject= landing&topic=anding) located in Salt Lake City, Utah, also houses and provides copies for a fee of paper aerial photographs (provided as a digital print) from past flights which were typically flown about every five to ten years. The NAIP imagery is accessible as a digital data layer in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and is available in all field offices, and certain flight years have the capability of being displayed either in natural color and CIR. E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices Because Farm Services Agency imagery may be available on or around the key years of 1985 and 1990, this imagery is one of the MOST IMPORTANT TOOLS AVAILABLE FOR MAKING GOOD OFFSITE WETLAND DETERMINATIONS OR DECISIONS FOR REQUIRING ONSITE INVESTIGATIONS. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES In addition to Farm Service Agency, NRCS personnel have access to imagery from a number of sources. Imagery from the ‘‘Indiana Historical Aerial Photo Index’’ can be acquired from the Indiana Geological Web site. Imagery can also be viewed on many County GIS Web sites that are operated in conjunction with the Assessor’s office. These sources tend to offer variability in timing and season of photography which provides greater perspective when making a determination. Many of these sources are not geo-referenced and therefore cannot be added to a base map within a GIS. However, the information that they provide is often extremely valuable to the delineator. Aerial Photography Limitations Some of the limitations relative to use are: 1. Low crop producing counties may have fewer available years of imagery. 2. Many counties in the state have discarded early years of crop compliance slides. 3. Early year crop compliance slides not digitized may have no mapping index and consequently are hard to organize and use unless an index is developed. 4. Based on the actual flight date and the type of film, the imagery may be limiting relative to some interpretations. For example, flights in the growing season (e.g. leaf on) may result in misinterpretations of potential wetland features. In natural color images water, wetland understory plants, and drainage patterns may be obscured by the canopy of a mature forested cover. 5. Normal climatic conditions (i.e. pre-flight rainfall patterns) assessed for the flight may still not accurately reflect the actual onsite condition due to local variability. 6. Early year crop compliance slides may experience some fading of colors, although this rarely results in the masking of gross landscape features. Determining the Flight Date of the Imagery: Determining the date of the imagery is critical when making photointerpretations of imagery for wetland determinations. The actual date of the flight allows the reviewer to evaluate the climatic condition both for growing season decisions and for rainfall amounts and time of storm events. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 Actual days of the flight may be printed on the hard copy imagery or can be found in the metadata of digital imagery. Records of actual flight days may be available in the Farm Service Agency Aerial Photography Field Office as previously mentioned. Evaluation of Imagery for Normal Climatic Condition: The pre-flight climatic assessment (antecedent moisture condition) supports the quality of each flight year of imagery as a tool. By documenting that the normal condition relative to rainfall existed just prior to the flight, good wetland hydrology decisions can be made. Flight dates that occur within the growing season support the wetland definition. However, imagery flown outside of growing seasons should still be considered tangible evidence for the hydrologic condition during the growing season if similar rainfall amounts are expected during growing season months. Such leaf off imagery may better display drainage patterns. The methodology to complete this climatic assessment can be found in Chapter 19 of the NRCS National Engineering Field Handbook (Hydrology Tools for Making Wetland Determinations). Each month’s rainfall amount is determined to be within the range of normal when it is within 30% to 70% of the monthly average. The three-month rainfall period is then assessed as a weighted average for the imagery, with more emphasis placed on the period just preceding the flight date. This assessment is used to determine the climatic condition prior to the flight. There are a number of good sources of rainfall data by month. The NRCS CLIMSYS WETS table, available for most counties in the state, will post monthly rainfall amounts for the 30 years of records used to provide county averages (http:// www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/cgibin/ getwetco.pl?state=nc). However, this data is usually at least ten years old for most counties. Current climatic data may be acquired from the following sources: • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) cooperative site: May provide data to within two months of real time, and this data is recorded daily. The Web site does not have a static url and appears to have limited coverage of the state. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climateinformation/statistical-weather-andclimate-information • Indiana State Climate Office: Offers hourly, daily and monthly reports. The site also offers access to additional data such as drought reports and long term moisture trends. PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 27405 -https://climate.agry.purdue.edu/ climate/index.asp • National Weather Service, Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service: Provides a variety of search and report options for gathering climatic data up to a year to date in duration. http://water.weather.gov/precip/ • Weather Underground: May provide real time rainfall amounts. This source may be limited by the lack of available stations providing data. The closest station may be some distance from the site. http:// www.wunderground.com/history/ The weather station closest to the potential wetland site should be the first source of rainfall data. If rainfall data is unavailable for the needed period of assessment, analyze rainfall records from more than one station on each side of the site in order to bracket the site and support that the site received rainfall amounts similar to station data results. Wetness signature interpretations: Wetness signature is a change in appearance of a site from the surrounding land readily visible on aerial photography due to excessive moisture or wetness. Indicators of wetness signature include: a. Surface water b. Flooded or drowned out crops c. Long-term inundation that leaves a distinctive ‘‘bulls-eye’’ or ‘‘bathtub ring’’ signature indicating very gradual percolation and/or evaporation. d. Stressed vegetation (e.g. leaf yellowing, timber kills, etc.); e. Differences in vegetation color due to management, such as delayed planting or harvesting; f. Isolated, squared, and/or irregularly shaped areas not managed similar to rest of the agricultural field (i.e. not cropped, not harvested); g. Patches of lush or greener vegetation, which may be especially pronounced in a drier than normal image or during a drought. h. Unharvested crops in an otherwise harvest field i. Non-agricultural vegetation in place of crops on hydric soils or inclusions. j. A consistent land change or vegetative boundary outline, or footprint, can be indicative of a wetland of some type when the other characteristics, such as color or texture, may be too subtle to call for a different sampling unit or label on their own. It is important to confirm the landscape position and relief of the site when making wetness signature interpretations. Recognize that similar irregular patterns on upland sloping agricultural areas may be such things as E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1 27406 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 88 / Friday, May 6, 2016 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES fertilizer skips, seeding skips, herbicide drift, gully erosion, a dry ridge top or hill crown, or exposed subsoil rather than wetness signature. Ground-truthing, or on-site analysis, is not required to make an offsite wetland determination. However, it is an important consideration for making sound remote sensing interpretations and should be a part of the training protocol for any wetland specialist using this method. While the policy is to do as many determinations as possible using offsite methods for both the identification of wetlands (SOSM) and the identification of wetland type (SOWTP), this process encourages the use of ground-truthing when needed for increased accuracy in the determination. Newly trained agency experts especially are encouraged to make an on-site analysis in order to better develop their ability to interpret offsite data. Wetness signature is always easier to detect from imagery in open agricultural areas because of the physical responses of plant communities to wetness or dryness after periodic agricultural disturbances. In cropped areas, bare ground will periodically be the condition of the site in some flights. Forested areas are harder to remote sense for wetness signature due to leaf cover, shadows, lack of disturbance and lack of visible response by the forest community to minor changes in wetness. For that reason, the user may be able to interpret wetness signature within forested areas from the open agricultural areas adjacent to those areas when characteristics such as relief and drainage pattern are considered. Wetness signatures at the interface of woods and crops are a signature of wetness in the woods, indicating that the woods should be visited to determine how much of the woods is wet if it cannot be determined with the imagery. Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) A Digital Elevation Model (DEM) is a raster dataset that can be used as an elevation surface layer in a Geographic Information System (GIS) to display and analyze topographic and geomorphic characteristics within the extent of data coverage. For the Indiana SOSM process, DEMs refers to Digital Elevation Models that represent the bare earth surface of landscape, without buildings, vegetation, or other above ground features. The most up to date DEMs in Indiana consist of a new generation of high accuracy data derived from LIDAR datasets. This set of Digital Elevation Models is capable of accurately mapping a 2-foot contour interval on the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:20 May 05, 2016 Jkt 238001 land. The DEM and other landscape based data derivatives are available to NRCS employees for use in offsite assessments for the SOSM process and prior to site visits. Derivative datasets generated from the DEM can include contours, slope, shaded relief or hillshade, fill, flow accumulation, landform curvature, and aspect. These datasets are able to be used as remote sensing tools to aid in determining potential wetland geomorphology and detailed local drainage patterns. They serve as a valuable tool for this methodology. All NRCS employees in Indiana that have approval to perform wetland determinations are provided with access to the data and software tools to utilize and interpret the data within agency based Geographic Information Systems Indiana DEM limitations 1. The current set of Indiana DEMs was developed from LIDAR data collected between 2008 and 2013 across the state. As a result, the DEMs will sometimes, but not always, be useful in interpreting the presence or absence of manmade drainage features such as ditches prior to 1985. 2. DEMs from any source are similar to aerial imagery in that they store information about the state of the landscape at the time of the source data acquisition, in this case LIDAR collected between 2008 and 2013. This means that subsequent changes to the landscape are not depicted which could include ditch cleaning, diversions, terraces, etc. Other Data Sources There are a number of other valuable resources available to NRCS delineators. All credible data sources should be considered when making a CWD to ensure accuracy. Additional years of orthorectified aerial imagery are available, including 1998 NAPP (1 meter, leaf-off), numerous years of NAIP (1 meter, leaf-on) from 2003 to the present, and multiple highresolution local data sets (typically 1 foot, leaf-off, 4-band) collected by units of state and county government. More recent versions of the NAIP and high resolution local imagery include a 4th band of color infrared (CIR) data which can be displayed in a manner to further assist photo interpretation of wetness signatures. The USGS topographic maps were created prior to the 1980’s and provide a good historical indicator of land use. The contour interval on the historical USGS topographic maps is typically 5 or 10 feet which can be insufficient for landform geomorphology interpretations in relatively flat landscapes. The use of PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 high-resolution Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) derived from new LIDAR products now enables all of Indiana to be covered by 2-foot contour interval data to provide much more detailed views of local topography and landforms. [FR Doc. 2016–10218 Filed 5–5–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–16–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Housing Service Notice of Request for Extension of a Currently Approved Information Collection Rural Housing Service, USDA. Proposed collection; comments AGENCY: ACTION: request. In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Rural Housing Service’s (RHS) intention to request an extension for the currently approved information collection in support of our program for Complaints and Compensation for Construction Defects. DATES: Comments on this notice must be received by July 5, 2016 to be assured of consideration. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Myron Wooden, Finance and Loan Analyst, Single Family Housing Direct Loan Division, RHS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, STOP 0783, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250–0783. Telephone (804) 287–1559. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Title: RD Instruction 1924–F, ‘‘Complaints and Compensation for Construction Defects.’’ OMB Number: 0575–0082. Expiration Date of Approval: 09–30– 2016. Type of Request: Extension of a currently approved information collection. Abstract: The Complaints and Compensation for Construction Defects program under section 509C of title V of the Housing Act of 1949, as amended, provides funding to eligible persons who have structural defects with their Agency financed homes to correct these problems. Structural defects are defects in the dwelling, installation of a manufactured home, or a related facility or a deficiency in the site or site development which directly and significantly reduces the useful life, habitability, or integrity of the dwelling or unit. The defect may be due to faulty material, poor workmanship, or latent causes that existed when the dwelling SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\06MYN1.SGM 06MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 88 (Friday, May 6, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 27393-27406]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-10218]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Natural Resources Conservation Service

[Docket No. NRCS-2016-0003]


Notice of Availability of Proposed Changes to Section I of the 
Indiana Field Office Technical Guide for Public Review and Comment

AGENCY: Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), United States 
Department of Agriculture (USDA).

ACTION: Notice and request for comments.

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SUMMARY: NRCS is proposing to revise Section I of the Indiana Field 
Office Technical Guide to include ``Guidance for Indiana Wetland 
Determinations, Including the use of Offsite Methods, to Identify 
Wetlands, Wetland Types, and Their Size for the 1985 Food Security Act, 
as amended,'' which will replace the existing ``Wetland Mapping 
Conventions for Agricultural Land and Narrow Band and Small Pocket 
Inclusions of Non-Agricultural Land'' (commonly referred as State 
Wetland Mapping Conventions).

DATES: Effective Date: This notice is effective May 6, 2016. ``Guidance 
for Indiana Wetland Determinations, Including the use of Offsite 
Methods, to Identify Wetlands, Wetland Types, and Their Size for the 
1985 Food Security Act, as amended'' is in final draft, subject to 
revision and will be utilized immediately in order to better service 
requests for wetland determinations for compliance with the Food 
Security Act of 1985 (as amended) in a timely manner.
    Comment Date: Submit comments on or before June 6, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be submitted, identified by Docket Number 
NRCS-2016-0003, using any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail or hand-delivery: Submit state specific comments to 
the Indiana NRCS State Office, located at 6013 Lakeside Boulevard, 
Indianapolis Indiana 61821.
    NRCS will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. In 
general, personal information provided with comments will be posted. If 
your comment includes your address, phone number, email, or other 
personal identifying information, your comments, including personal 
information, may be available to the public. You may ask in your 
comment

[[Page 27394]]

that your personal identifying information be withheld from public 
view, but this cannot be guaranteed.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jane E. Hardisty, State 
Conservationist, Telephone: (317) 295-5801

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: ``Guidance for Indiana Wetland 
Determinations, Including the use of Offsite Methods, To Identify 
Wetlands, Wetland Types, and Their Size for the 1985 Food Security Act, 
as amended'' will be used as part of the technical documents and 
procedures to conduct wetland determinations on agricultural land as 
required by 16 U.S.C. 3822. NRCS is required by 16 U.S.C. 3862 to make 
available for public review and comment all proposed revisions to 
standards and procedures used to carry out highly erodible land and 
wetland provisions of the law. All comments will be considered. If no 
comments are received, ``Guidance for Indiana Wetland Determinations, 
Including the use of Offsite Methods, to Identify Wetlands, Wetland 
Types, and Their Size for the 1985 Food Security Act, as amended'' will 
be considered final.
    Electronic copies of the proposed ``Guidance for Indiana Wetland 
Determinations, Including the use of Offsite Methods, to Identify 
Wetlands, Wetland Types, and Their Size for the 1985 Food Security Act, 
as amended'' are available through http://regulations.gov by accessing 
Docket No. NRCS-2016-0003. Alternatively, copies can be downloaded or 
printed from the Indiana NRCS Web site located at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/in/home/. Requests for paper 
versions or inquiries may be directed to the Indiana State 
Conservationist at the contact point shown above.

    Signed this 21 day of April, 2016.
Jane E. Hardisty,
Indiana State Conservationist.

United States Department of Agriculture

Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service

Guidance for Indiana Wetland Determinations, Including the use of 
Offsite Methods, To Identify Wetlands, Wetland Types, and Their Size 
For the 1985 Food Security Act, as amended.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 
 
 
INTRODUCTION................................................           4
1.0 FOOD SECURITY ACT OF 1985, AS AMENDED WETLAND                     11
 DETERMINATION PROCESS STEP 1: WETLAND IDENTIFICATION.......
1.1 DEVELOPMENT OF SAMPLING UNTS BASED ON NORMAL                      15
 CIRCUMSTANCES..............................................
1.2 DETERMINE REMOTE INDICATORS FOR HYDRIC SOILS............          17
1.3 DETERMINE REMOTE INDICATORS FOR WETLAND HYDROLOGY.......          19
1.4 DETERMINE REMOTE INDICATORS FOR HYDROPHYTIC VEGETATION..          25
1.5 DEVELOPEMENT OF THE BASE MAP............................          26
2.0 FOOD SECURITY ACT OF 1985, AS AMENDED WETLAND                     27
 DETERMINATION PROCESS STEP 2: ASSIGNMENT OF WC LABELS......
2.1 VERIFICATION OF PRE-DECEMBER 23, 1985 CROPPING HISTORY..          27
2.2 VERIFICATION OF PRE-DECEMBER 23, 1985 MANIPULATIONS.....          29
2.3 VERIFICATION OF POST-DECEMBER 23, 1985 MANIPULATION OR            30
 CONVERSION.................................................
2.4 VERIFICATION OF CROPPED GLACIATED POTHOLE LANDFORM......          32
2.5 VERIFICATION OF PASTURED DEPRESSIONAL LANDFORMS.........          34
2.6 VERIFICATION OF CROPPED DEPRESSIONAL LANDFORMS..........          35
2.7 DETERMINATION OF THE REQUIRED CONDITIONS FOR WC LABELS..          37
3.0 FOOD SECURITY ACT OF 1985, AS AMENDED WETLAND                     38
 DETERMINATION PROCESS STEP 3: CERTIFIED WETLAND
 DETERMINATION MAP..........................................
3.1 TRANSFERRING BASE MAP SAMPLING UNITS TO WC COMPLIANCE             39
 LABELED POLYGONS...........................................
3.2 CERTIFIED WETLAND DETERMINATION (CWD) MAP...............          39
4.0 ATTACHMENTS.............................................          40
 

INTRODUCTION

    The National Food Security Act Manual (NFSAM) provides internal 
agency policy related to the Highly Erodible Land Conservation and 
Wetland Conservation provisions of the 1985 Food Security Act, as 
amended (FSA *). Part 514.7 of the NFSAM explains that the FSA wetland 
determination process requires a technical determination of whether the 
site (sampling unit) is a wetland, then a separate, independent 
determination of whether any exemptions to the provisions apply. Based 
on these two decisions, a certified wetland determination map is 
prepared with an appropriate Wetland Conservation (WC) label assigned 
to each sampling unit. The size of each area with a WC label is 
provided. Thus, the FSA wetland determination decision includes three 
independent steps: Step 1: Wetland Identification, Step 2: Assignment 
of WC Labels and Step 3: Sizing.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    * To properly differentiate between the Food Security Act and 
the Farm Service Agency, ``FSA'' will refer to the 1985 Food 
Security Act and ``Farm Services Agency'' will be spelled out.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

STEP 1: WETLAND IDENTIFICATION

    To accomplish the first step (wetland identification), the 
Secretary of Agriculture directed the Natural Resources Conservation 
Service (NRCS) to develop and use offsite and onsite wetland 
identification procedures (7 CFR 12.30(a)(4)). The NRCS responded by 
providing such procedures in the NFSAM.
    The NFSAM Part 527 FSA Wetland Identification Procedures, as 
distributed through Circular 6 in December 2010, directs that NRCS will 
utilize Part IV: Methods, contained in the Corps of Engineers Wetland 
Delineation Manual (Corps Manual) for onsite and offsite 
determinations. The NFSAM explains that the on-site procedures 
contained in the Corps Manual are supplemented by the Corps Regional 
Supplements and the FSA variances to the Corps Methods, as provided in 
Part 527 FSA Wetland Identification Procedures.

STEP 2: ASSIGNMENT OF WETLAND CONSERVATION LABELS

    The second step (Assignment of Wetland Conservation Labels) assigns 
labels identified in NFSAM Part 514 to each sampling unit. The 
methodology for this step involves taking the Step 1: Wetland 
Identification, which is either ``Yes, the site meets the FSA 
definition of a wetland'' or ``No, the site does not meet the FSA 
definition of a wetland'', reviewing the data for activities that have 
affected the wetland nature of the site and assigning a FSA label to 
the sampling unit in response to the disturbances, if any, done to the 
area within the sampling unit. This assigning of FSA labels is a 
straight forward determination that the data reviewed indicates that 
the site meets the definition of the FSA label.

[[Page 27395]]

STEP 3: SIZING

    The third step is to review the ecological conditions of the site 
for a change in the overall size from the Step 1: Wetland 
Identification, to the present day with an analysis of the correctness 
of a specific Wetland Type Label for a specific size.
    This step is designed to take notice of sample units meet a FSA 
label of a type of wetland that then may have decreased in size after 
December 23, 1985, and may require a change in label to document that 
the sampling unit was manipulated or converted.
    On the other hand, an increase in the size of a sampling unit may 
also indicate the change in a FSA label from a type of non-wetland to 
wetland where an exemption still applies to the increased size and can 
be converted into land suitable for crop production.
    The FSA Wetland Identification Procedures provide that the US Army 
Corps of Engineers (USACE) offsite procedures found in Part IV, Section 
D, Subsection 1--``Onsite Inspection Unnecessary'' can be augmented 
with the development of State Offsite Methods (SOSM). The purpose of 
this document is to provide procedures that the NRCS in Indiana will 
use for rendering decisions when onsite inspection (field indicators) 
is unnecessary. Additionally, this document provides guidance related 
to the assignment of FSA labels and sizing.
    The SOSM incorporates by reference the current versions and 
pertinent sections of the following Documents (and their location):
    1. National Food Security Act Manual (NFSAM)
    2. 20101 Food Security Act Wetland Identification Procedures (NFSAM 
Part 527 Appendix)
    3. 1987 United States Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation 
Manual, Technical Report Y-87-1 (on-line edition)
    4. USACE Regional Supplements Eastern Mountains and Piedmont, 
Midwest, and North Central and Northeast Regions to the '87 Manual (on-
line editions)
    5. Hydrology Tools for Wetland Determination (Title 210 
Engineering, National Engineering Handbook (NEH), Part 650, Engineering 
Field Handbook (EFH), Chapter 19)
    The Assignment of Wetland Types and The Sizing of Wetlands 
Procedures (WTSP) can be used either offsite or on-site, and both 
incorporate by reference the current versions and pertinent sections of 
NFSAM Parts 514 (Labels) and 515 (Minimal Effect and Mitigation 
Exemption). These labels were developed to account for all of the 
various kinds of wetlands defined in 7CFR12.2-Wetland determinations 
and the different exemptions to be applied to those wetlands as found 
in 7 CFR 12.5(b)-Exemptions for wetlands and converted wetlands. The 
sizing of wetlands is a procedure to ensure that the label is correct 
for the entire area of the sampling unit based on the aforementioned 
references used for the Assignment of Wetland Types. NRCS has used Part 
IV of the 1987 USACE Delineation Manual as the base document for the 
development of SOSM while incorporating the variances from the FSA 
Wetland Identification Procedures without any alterations, so it is 
anticipated that there will be few, if any, differences with the 
existing wetland determination system.
    Paragraph (2-14) of the FSA Wetland Identification Procedures 
defines SOSM as ``Methods developed by the NRCS for the sole purpose of 
supplementing the offsite methodology in the Corp Manual (decisions 
made using Level 1 or Level 3) for use in identifying wetlands for FSA 
purposes. The adoption process for State Offsite Methods will include 
solicitation of State Technical Committee recommendations. These 
methods may replace or supplement methods provided for in State Mapping 
Conventions.''
    Indiana NRCS presented the SOSM to the Indiana State Technical 
Committee on February 24, 2015 and April 9, 2015 to solicit feedback 
and recommendations as required in paragraph (2-14) of the FSA Wetland 
Identification Procedures. NRCS also presented the WTSP to the 
committee to demonstrate how the FSA label assignment and sizing 
procedure carries on the information collected to make the Wetland 
Identification. All of the methodologies and procedures developed for 
Indiana take into account unique regional, state, and local wetland 
characteristics. This document adheres to regulations and policies in 
effect as of the date of this document but may be subject to change. 
Specific changes required by CFR will be implemented without 
concurrence from other agencies while changes in methodology and 
procedures will be vetted with the committee.
    For FSA purposes, the term ``wetland'' is defined in 16 U.S.C. 
3801(a)(18) as land that--
    A) Has a predominance of hydric soils.
    B) Is inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a 
frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of 
hydrophytic vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil 
conditions.
    C) Under normal circumstances supports a prevalence of such 
vegetation.
    According to paragraph (3-2) of the FSA Wetland Identification 
Procedures, ``This definition is unique to the statute, and all 
decisions regarding the identification of FSA wetlands must be based on 
this definition. The statute adds further clarity to the concept of an 
FSA wetland by defining ``hydric soil'' and ``hydrophytic vegetation'' 
(as those concepts will be applied to the Wetland Conservation 
provisions) and by the specific direction given to the Secretary as to 
the hydric soils and hydrophytic vegetation criteria that must be 
developed by USDA (16 U.S.C. Section 3801(b)(1)).''
    Wetland identification decisions are based on conditions that are 
expected to occur under Normal Circumstances. The FSA Wetland 
Identification Procedures paragraph (2-10) defines Normal Circumstances 
(NC) as, ``The soil and hydrologic conditions that are normally 
present, without regard to whether the vegetation has been removed (7 
CFR 12.31(b)(2)(i)). For FSA wetland identification purposes, this 
concept is the consideration of normal and abnormal climate-based site 
changes and natural and artificial disturbance-based site changes that 
can create wetland identification challenges. ``Normally present'' is 
further explained as the vegetative, soil, and hydrologic conditions 
that occur under both of these conditions:
    a. Without regard to whether the site has been subject to drainage 
actions (see drainage definition) after December 23, 1985, and without 
regard to whether the vegetation has been removed or significantly 
altered.
    b. During the wet portion of the growing season under normal 
climatic conditions (normal environmental conditions).''
    The FSA Wetland Identification Procedures paragraph (2-11) defines 
Normal Environmental Conditions (NEC) as ``The climate-based concept of 
NC, defined as the physical conditions, characteristics (hydrology, 
soil, and vegetation), or both that would exist in a typical situation 
(2-12) on a site during the wet portion of the growing season in a 
normal climatic year.''
    Normal Circumstances as used in the FSA wetland definition requires 
that decisions be based not on anomalies, but rather what would 
normally occur on the sampling unit during NEC (FSA Procedures 
paragraph 3-3). In the Corps methods, the concept of ``normal'' is 
separated into the disturbance-based

[[Page 27396]]

concept of normal circumstances (typical/atypical situations) and the 
climate-based concept of normal circumstances called ``normal 
environmental conditions'' (NEC). The NRCS adopts this concept that a 
determination of ``normal'' is a two-pronged consideration (FSA 
Procedures paragraph 3-4). For FSA purposes the agency expert will 
determine the normal circumstances (NC) of the sampling unit as those 
that would be expected to occur,
    (1) In the absence of post-December 23, 1985 drainage actions that 
alter the normal soil or hydrologic conditions.
    (2) In the absence of an alteration (removal or change) in the 
plant community such that a decision cannot be made if the site would 
support a prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation if undisturbed.
    (3) During the wet portion of the growing season during a year 
experiencing normal weather patterns.
    In the absence of direct evidence, the decision if a sampling unit 
meets a particular diagnostic factor (wetland hydrology, prevalence of 
hydrophytic vegetation, and a predominance of hydric soils) is assisted 
by confirmation of the presence of indicators. The use of indicators to 
predict the conditions that would occur under NC is referred to as the 
``indicator-based approach to wetland identification.'' The presence or 
lack of indicators can be determined using remotely sensed data sources 
or onsite observations. USACE, United States Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA), and NRCS use the indicator-based approach to assist in 
decision-making. The ultimate decision if a site meets the FSA criteria 
for any of the three diagnostic factors is made from a preponderance of 
evidence, best professional judgment, and the FSA definitions and 
criteria of hydrophytic vegetation, hydric soils, and wetland hydrology 
(FSA Wetland Identification Procedures paragraph 4-3).
    According to Paragraph 4-4 of the FSA Wetland Identification 
Procedures, ``The decision if the site is a Food Security Act wetland 
is ultimately rendered based on the determination of a presence or 
absence of each of the three factors under NC. Areas determined to 
support wetland hydrology, a prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation, and 
a predominance of hydric soils (all under NC), as each factor is 
defined by the FSA, are wetlands subject to the WC provisions of the 
act.''

SECTION 1

1.0--FSA WETLAND DETERMINATION PROCESS STEP 1: WETLAND IDENTIFICATION

    On-site Visits Required by Regulation:
    7CFR12(a)(6) is cited in NFSAM Part 514.1.A(3)(v) as requiring an 
on-site investigation of FSA-569 ``NRCS Report of HELC and WC 
Compliance'' requests or whistleblower complaints. Other situations 
that require an on-site investigation include a specific request for an 
onsite determination; as a condition of withholding program benefits; 
servicing an appeal; or a request for a pre-conversion minimal effect 
determination.
    In addition, an on-site visit is required any time an agency 
expert:
    1) Cannot accumulate enough offsite data to complete the decision-
making process, or
    2) Finds that the accumulated data do not give a clear and 
definitive determination.
    At each significant decision-making point in the offsite procedure, 
the agency expert will consider whether an on-site inspection procedure 
is needed. It is not the intent of the SOSM to always provide a 
determination answer. The intent of the SOSM is to provide a body of 
data to the agency expert that can be used to make an offsite 
determination if the data is of sufficient quantity and quality. If 
not, then the offsite data will be used to assist in making an on-site 
determination.
    Modifying the procedure--
    The FSA wetland determination process makes use of two parts of the 
1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual; Paragraph 23 of the Introduction 
and Part IV minus the comprehensive method (NFSAM, Part 527(5-3). 
Paragraph 23, entitled ``Flexibility'', addresses the possibility of 
the need to modify the procedures.
    NRCS has developed modifications to the process as required by the 
FSA and its amendments. These modifications are incorporated into the 
``2010 Food Security Act Wetland Identification Procedure'' (FSA 
Wetland Identification Procedure) as variances and are used in the SOSM 
and other procedures in this document. Paragraph 23 requires all 
modifications to be explained so that all variances will be cited when 
used. No further modifications to the SOSM or other procedures are 
authorized. Any need to modify the SOSM or other offsite procedures 
themselves is an indication that a Level 2 or Level 3 on-site 
determination is necessary.
    Locally produced evidence--
    7 CFR 12.5(b)(7) ``Responsibility to provide evidence'' states it 
is the person who is seeking an exemption listed in 7 CFR 12.5(b)(1-5) 
to a converted wetland (any time before or after December 23, 1985) to 
provide evidence in seeking that exemption. It is not the NRCS' 
responsibility to search for such evidence outside of this procedure; 
rather, it is the NRCS' responsibility to see if the participant-
provided evidence can be confirmed and to ensure that the person has 
had such an opportunity.
    Locally produced evidence will be considered as a source of data 
alongside all other data used to make the offsite determination. NOTE: 
In this instance the use of the word ``converted'' is in reference to 
7CFR12.2(3), meaning a manipulation creating ground suitable for crop 
production at any time before or after December 23, 1985. This is not 
referring to the use of the FSA Labels ``Converted Wetland'' or 
``Converted Wetland + Year''.

INDIVIDUALS QUALIFICATIONS TO USE THESE SOSM

    As stated in the NFSAM in Part 514.1, ``Certified wetland 
determinations must be completed by a qualified NRCS employee, as 
determined by the State Conservationist. Qualified employees (i.e., 
agency experts) must meet all of the following criteria:
    1. Have completed all the required training, including updated 
courses.
    2. Have the appropriate job-approval authority.
    3. Have demonstrated proficiency in making certified wetland 
determinations.
    Persons using these SOSM must have the appropriate ``Wetland Job 
Approval Authority(s)'' delegated and documented in accordance with 
current NRCS policy.

IDENTIFYING THE PRESENCE OF WETLANDS

    The first step in the wetland identification process is to 
subdivide the project into different areas called sampling units (FSA 
Procedures (2-12)) and identify each sampling unit on a base map. For 
each sampling unit, an independent consideration of each of the three 
wetland diagnostic factors is made. For each sampling unit, the agency 
expert must decide which level of determination outlined in ``Section 
C: Selection of Method'' of the USACE 1987 Wetland Delineation Manual 
is most appropriate as follows--
     Level 1 is rendering a decision using offsite resources 
for each of the three factors. The assessment of each factor must be 
independent of the other factors and a different remote data

[[Page 27397]]

source must be used for each factor. NOTE: A single resource document 
(tool) can contain multiple data sources. Each can be used as an 
indicator for a different factor. For example, a soil survey contains 
multiple data sources (soils map, hydrology data, vegetative data, and 
use limitation data). High-accuracy Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) 
derived from Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data and United States 
Geological Survey (USGS) topographic maps are sources for elevation 
data, land use data, and hydrology data (i.e. water symbols). The 
mandate is that a single remote data source (i.e. soil map unit) cannot 
be applied to more than one factor.
     Level 2 is rendering a decision using on-site data, along 
with any useful offsite data. The exception is if Section F (Atypical 
Situation) or G (Problem Area) of the USACE Manual is needed. Those 
sections are only applied after a decision is made to use onsite 
methods (even if remote data sources are eventually used to render a 
decision).
     Level 3 is rendering a decision using offsite resources 
(i.e. soils maps, DEMs derived from LIDAR data, etc.) for 1 or 2 
factors and using onsite indicators (i.e. soil pits, drift lines, plant 
dominance tests) for the other factor(s).
    Wetland determinations are a technical decision resulting from the 
determination of whether an area is a wetland or non-wetland (wetland 
ID), including the determination of appropriate wetland type (WC 
compliance label) and size (FSA Wetland Identification Procedures 
paragraph (2-18)). Therefore, the NRCS identifies three unique and 
separate steps to the wetland determination process. Within the first 
two steps, each of the three wetland diagnostic factors must be 
assessed independently to determine if a decision can be rendered at 
the diagnostic factor level using offsite data sources.
    NOTES:
     All agency decisions during Step 1 are made at the 
sampling unit level.
     The term ``imagery'' refers to all forms of remotely 
captured imagery or photography, digital or analog, at all resolutions.
     Unless otherwise stated, the use of ``1985'' in this 
document refers to December 23, 1985.

1.1 DEVELOPEMANT OF SAMPLING UNITS BASED ON NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES (NC)

Identification of Sampling Units

    Gather all available sources of data and create a base map using 
available geospatial data to determine if wetlands exist within each 
sampling unit.
    Users will graphically subdivide the area of interest into sampling 
units on a base map image using resources A through F (as available) 
listed below. The base map needs to be large enough to read and record 
multiple sampling units in one location. Sampling unit boundaries do 
not need to correspond exactly to a boundary indicated by any of the 
resources listed below. The agency expert determines sampling unit 
validity. Sampling units will be located using the following remote 
resources:
    A. Based on knowledge of local conditions, review the FSA slides 
from prior to 1987 (regardless of annual precipitation). Each signature 
listed below may indicate a unique sampling unit:
     Trees, saplings, shrubs and other non-agricultural 
vegetation.
     Surface water.
     Saturated conditions.
     Flooded or drowned-out crops.
     Stressed crops due to wetness.
     Differences in vegetation due to different planting dates.
     Inclusion of wet areas as set-aside or idled.
     Circular or irregular areas of unharvested crops within a 
harvested field.
     Isolated areas that are not farmed with the rest of the 
field.
     Areas of greener vegetation (especially during dry years).
    B. Review the US Fish & Wildlife Service (US FWS) National Wetland 
Inventory (NWI) maps. While each NWI polygon not matching the other 
indicators may be a sampling unit, care should be taken to notice when 
the NWI is simply displaced from the location where other indicators 
are showing a unique sampling unit. This ``off-center'' displacement 
has been observed when matching up the Indiana NWI sites with certified 
wetland boundaries.
    C. Review DEMs derived from LIDAR data for differences in elevation 
indicating significant differences in land forms that may collect and 
hold water.
    D. Review the soil survey and the county hydric soils list from the 
NRCS Web Soil Survey. Identify listed hydric soil map units, map units 
with hydric soils as part of their name, soils with hydric inclusions, 
and map units with conventional wetland symbols. Each soil survey 
feature not matching the other resources above may be a sampling unit.
    E. Locally-produced information from individuals involved with the 
property related to manipulations and conversions prior to December 23, 
1985.
    F. Review other inventory tools, if available.
    NOTE: The more indicators that can be assigned to a specific area, 
the greater the probability that the area qualifies as a unique 
sampling unit.
    NOTE: All land within the requested area will be assigned a 
sampling unit designation of ``Y'' (yes, a wetland) or ``N'' (no, not a 
wetland); therefore all land within the requested area will be part of 
a sampling unit.
    [rtarr8] Proceed to the Section 1.2. For each sampling unit--

1.2 DETERMINE REMOTE INDICATORS FOR HYDRIC SOILS

    The term hydric soil means soil that, in its undrained condition, 
is saturated, flooded, or ponded long enough during a growing season to 
develop an anaerobic condition that supports the growth and 
regeneration of hydrophytic vegetation (16 U.S.C. 3801(a)(12)). Refer 
to Part V, subpart C, paragraphs 5-49 through 5-53, of the FSA Wetland 
Identification Procedures for further information and allowable 
variances from the Corps methods.
    Title 7 CFR Sec.  12.31(a)(1) states, ``NRCS shall identify hydric 
soils through the use of published soil maps which reflect soil surveys 
completed by or through the use of onsite reviews.''
    Title 7 CFR Sec.  12.31(a)(2) states, ``NRCS shall determine 
whether an area of a field or other parcel of land has a predominance 
of hydric soils that are inundated or saturated as follows:''
    i. ``If a soil map unit has hydric soil as all or part of its name, 
that soil map unit or portion of the map unit related to the hydric 
soil will be determined to have a predominance of hydric soils.''
    ii. ``If a soil map unit is named for a miscellaneous area that 
meets the criteria for hydric soils (i.e., riverwash, playas, beaches, 
or water) the soil map unit will be determined to have a predominance 
of hydric soils.''
    iii. ``If a soil map unit contains inclusions of hydric soils, that 
portion of the soil map unit identified as hydric soil will be 
determined to have a predominance of hydric soils.''
    The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that the 
hydric soils definition is met:
    1. Soils Maps (data) and County Hydric Soils Lists.
    Hydric Soils Decision Threshold (the factor is met if:
    1. The sampling unit meets 7 CFR Sec.  12.31(a)(2) as described 
above. If a soil map unit has hydric soil as part of its name or 
contains a hydric inclusion, that portion of the hydric component 
(major or minor) in the soil survey can be verified by either:
    a. Identifying that the landform (such as a depressional area 
viewed on remote data) of the sampling unit is consistent with the 
landform (such as closed

[[Page 27398]]

depression or swale) of the hydric component or inclusion; or,
    b. Using the soil series.
    [rtarr8] Proceed to Section 1.3.

1.3 DETERMINE REMOTE INDICATORS FOR WETLAND HYDROLOGY

    Wetland Hydrology means inundation or saturation of the site by 
surface or groundwater during a growing season at a frequency and 
duration sufficient to support a prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation. 
Refer to Part V, subpart C, paragraphs (5-56) through (5-60), of the 
FSA Wetland Identification Procedures for further information and 
allowable variances from the Corps methods.
    The NFSAM defines inundation as meaning ``the ground is covered by 
water due to ponding, flowing, or flooded water.'' Depth of the 
inundation is not part of the identification of the presence of 
hydrology. Rather, the focus of data collection and interpretation is 
on the time of year the inundation occurs, the length of time the 
inundation lasts, and how frequently it occurs over time on an annual 
basis.
    The NFSAM and the CFR do not define saturation other than being the 
presence of water within the soil profile that affects the presence of 
hydrophytic vegetation, and by inference, the absence of non-
hydrophytic vegetation as a dominant plant community. Similar to the 
definition of inundation, the focus on data collection and 
interpretation is on the season, duration, and frequency of the 
saturation. However, saturation as a factor in affecting the prevalence 
of hydrophytic vegetation is dependent on proximity to the rooting 
depth of the plant.
    The 1987 USACE Wetland delineation Manual defines ``saturated soil 
conditions'' in the glossary as ``A condition in which all easily 
drained voids (pore) between soil particles in the root zone are 
temporarily or permanently filled with water to the soil surface at 
pressures greater than atmospheric.''
    Wetland hydrology is defined as inundation or saturation by surface 
or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a 
prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation typically adapted for life in 
saturated soil conditions NFSAM 514.6(1).
    For the purposes of this method, procedure, and process, saturation 
is defined as the presence of groundwater or perched water at or near 
the surface of the soil profile within a depth of 12 inches from the 
soil surface during any time in the growing season.
    In Indiana, a site under direct observation during the growing 
season that is dominated by hydrophytic vegetation on a hydric soil 
that is saturated to a depth within 12 inches of the surface is 
indicative of the site being either a wetland (W) or a manipulated 
wetland (WX), indicating partially removed hydrology after 1985, rather 
than a non-wetland (NW), notwithstanding contradictory indicators.
    The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that the 
wetland hydrology definition is met:
    1. Imagery showing surface water inundation by ponding or flooding 
under NC.
    2. Imagery showing a Color Tone difference due to wetness that is 
reflective of NC that: (a) Was occurring on the date of the imagery, or 
(b) that occurred previous to the imagery but the evidence of this 
wetting event remains evident. Refer to Attachment C. Color tones 
provide clear distinctions in the condition of the sampling unit 
compared to the condition in the surrounding area including size and 
color. Color tones include:
     Hydrophytic vegetation such as trees, saplings, shrubs, 
and other non-agricultural plants.
     Saturated condition.
     Stressed crops due to wetness.
     Differences in vegetation due to different planting dates.
     Inclusion of wet areas as set-aside or idled.
     Circular or irregular areas of unharvested crops within a 
harvested field.
     Isolated areas that are not farmed with the rest of the 
field.
     Areas of greener vegetation (especially during dry years).
    [cir] Users are advised that sampling units and wetness signatures 
in areas with perennial vegetation may not be readily visible. In such 
cases, field verification is required.
    3. The presence of mineral soil flats that have not been 
manipulated such that the microtopography of the soil surface has been 
leveled, or that the area has been altered by surface drain patterns or 
subsurface drainage. Clermont, Cobbsfork, and Peoga soils are currently 
the soil types that are included in the mineral soil flats reference 
site in Indiana.
    Wetland Hydrology (including pre-1985 drainage) Decision Threshold 
is met with the proper combination of the following indicators:
    1. The presence of water as indicated by signatures on imagery or a 
soil survey with the area labeled as ``Water'' or ``Miscellaneous 
Water'',

OR

    2. The presence of mineral soil flats that have not been tilled or 
leveled, or altered by surface drain patterns or subsurface drainage. 
Clermont, Cobbsfork, and Peoga soils are currently the soil types that 
are included in the mineral soil flats reference site in Indiana,

OR

    3. Wetness signatures found on greater than 50 percent of imagery 
reviewed with consideration given to the actual environmental 
conditions at the time of data collection (wet, dry, normal).
     The imagery review will consist of all available imageries 
prior to 1988. The 1987 imagery is to be used only to verify subsequent 
effects of drainage installed prior to 1985. Imagery from 1979 to 1986 
will be interpreted with consideration of whether it is reflective of 
normal, wet, or dry amounts of precipitation.
    NOTE: Imagery from years that are considered wet or dry years are 
an indicator only if they have contrarian indicators (i.e.--wet 
signatures in a dry year or no signatures on a wet year). See 
attachment C ``Hydrology Information'' for information on the use of 
normal year data.
     Publically available high-resolution leaf-off imagery 
taken in the early spring can be used to determine presence of wetland 
signatures, taking care not to factor in any post-December 23, 1985 
manipulations and conversions.
     NRCS is invoking Paragraph 23 of the 1987 USACE Wetland 
Delineation Manual for agricultural land determinations. For a sample 
unit that has been identified by the Farm Service Agency as having an 
agricultural commodity produced at least once prior to 1985 and does 
not support woody vegetation on 1985, the only FSA labels that are 
applicable are Prior Converted Cropland (PC), Non-Wetland (NW), and 
Farmed Wetland (FW). The absence of hydrology indicators on a majority 
of imagery taken prior to 1987 indicates either a PC or NW 
determination. Hydrophytic vegetation criteria can be by-passed by 
documenting that an agricultural commodity was produced prior to 1985. 
The soils map will indicate either a PC label for hydric soils or a NW 
label for non-hydric soils. The FW label will be used if a majority of 
the aforementioned imagery has the hydrology indicators of surface 
water or long-term inundation (10% consecutive days of inundation 
during the wet part of the growing season (i.e.--March, April, May) 
such as non-agricultural herbaceous vegetation or bare soil with slow 
drawdown signatures. These labels

[[Page 27399]]

can be applied without applying the remainder of the SOSM.
    NOTE: Care will be taken to identify False Positive and Negative 
situations.
    [cir] An FW label will be changed to W if the site is abandoned for 
five consecutive years at any time after 1985.
    [cir] A NW label due to the conversion of a wetland prior to 1985 
will be changed to W if the three criteria return.
    [cir] An herbaceous Wetland (W) or a Farmed Wetland Pasture (FWP) 
can present subtle signatures on the imagery such as simple vegetative 
color variation but with a consistent footprint.
    [cir] FWP's can also be abandoned to the W label,

OR

    ANY TWO OF THE FOLLOWING INDICATORS:
    1. High-accuracy Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) derived from 
LIDAR.
    2. Depth Grid modeled from high accuracy digital elevation models.
    3. Short term-inundation modelled from stream gauge data.
    4. National Wetland Inventory (NWI) maps produced by the US FWS.
    5. Soil Survey map with wetness spot symbols.
    6. Soil Survey map with linear spot symbols associated with imagery 
wetness signatures.
    7. USGS Topographical map with wetness spot symbol.
AND

    Producer-provided records indicate that drainage has been installed 
or constructed prior to 1985,
    a. And has been maintained and is functioning such that the lack of 
hydrology indicators can be explained, or that such indicators are 
potential false positive hydrology indicators.
    b. If no producer-provided records are available, then the agency 
expert is to presume maintenance has been conducted on any drainage 
features installed prior to 1985 and any wetness signatures observed 
are valid (indicating any potential system has not adequately removed 
hydrology) and are not false positive indicators.
    [rtarr8] Proceed to Section 1.4.

1.4 DETERMINE REMOTE INDICATORS FOR HYDROPHYTIC VEGETATION

    Hydrophytic vegetation means a plant growing in (A) water; or (B) a 
substrate that is at least periodically deficient in oxygen during a 
growing season as a result of excessive water content (16 U.S.C. 
3801(a)(11)). Refer to Part V, subpart C, paragraphs (5-41) through (5-
46), of the FSA Wetland Identification Procedures for further 
information and allowable variances from the Corps methods in 
identification of hydrophytic vegetation.
    The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that the 
hydrophytic vegetation definition is met. See Attachment A for a 
detailed description of each resource:
    1. Ecological Site Descriptions (ESD).
    2. Approved Indiana NRCS wetland reference site data as it is 
developed.
    3. Indiana Hydric Soil and Vegetative Correlation List
    4. Locally developed soil map units and plant association lists.
    5. National Wetland Inventory (NWI) mapping.
    6. Indiana Approved Official Soil Series Descriptions (OSD) plant 
data.
    7. Prior land-based (on the ground) photography.
    Hydrophytic Vegetation Decision Threshold (the factor is met if):
    One or more of the listed resources will indicate the presence of 
hydrophytic vegetation.
    NOTE: Attention should be given to the definition being ``Plants 
growing in water or in a substrate that is as least periodically 
deficient in oxygen during the growing season as a result of saturation 
or inundation by water''. Variance 5-42 of the FSA Wetland 
Identification Procedure states ``For FSA purposes, the question is not 
as much the species, but rather how individual plants are behaving 
within any one sampling unit.'' Any individual plant meeting the 
definition is considered to be hydrophytic vegetation.
    [rtarr8] Proceed to Step 1.5

1.5 FINALIZATION OF BASE MAP

    The agency expert will analyze each sampling unit as defined in 
Steps 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4 and use a worksheet to complete the following 
steps:
     If all three factor answers are ``yes'' (the factors are 
met) for a sampling unit then record a ``Y'' (yes) on the base map for 
the sampling unit.
     If any factor answer is ``no'' (a factor is not met) for a 
sampling unit then record an ``N'' (no) on the base map for the 
sampling unit.
     Provide a copy of the final base map to the case file.
     This final base map will be used to complete Section 2 and 
Section 3.
    NOTE: Part IV of the 1987 USCAE Wetland Delineation Manual 
instructs the user to label the wetland ``W'' and the nonwetland ``N''. 
NRCS is using the label ``Y'' in place of the ``W'' so as not to cause 
confusion with the use of ``W'' as an FSA Wetland Type Label in section 
2.
    [rtarr8] Proceed to Section 2

SECTION 2

2.0--FSA WETLAND DETERMINATION PROCESS STEP 2: ASSIGNMENT OF WETLAND 
CONSERVATION COMPLIANCE (WC) LABELS

    Sampling units identified as a ``Y'' (wetland) or ``N'' (non-
wetland) in Section 1 will be assigned the appropriate WC compliance 
label as determined by any applicable exemptions found in the current 
version of the NFSAM. The offsite process for this step is identified 
as the State Offsite Wetland Type and Size Procedure (SOWTP). This is a 
separate procedure from the SOSM.
    NOTE: Unless otherwise stated, the use of ``1985'' in this document 
refers to December 23, 1985.

2.1 VERIFICATION OF PRE-1985 CROPPING HISTORY

    The following data will be used to indicate that pre-1985 cropping 
history (``agricultural commodity produced at least once before 1985'' 
(7 CFR 12.2)) is met. This step may have already been carried out in 
step 1.3. If so then this section need not be used unless there is a 
possibility of a false positive or negative determination
    1. Any imagery taken prior to 1986.
    2. Farm Service Agency records of any kind.
    3. Any record from a person who was involved in the farming 
operation before December 23, 1985 that demonstrates that the site was 
cropped and appears to be valid.
    4. Areas that are in pasture or hay land that have a uniform 
topography that indicates suitability as a crop field in past years. 
This condition does not preclude the use of wetland labels.
    Cropping History Decision Threshold (met if):
    The threshold to use crop production as an eligible wetland 
exemptions has three parts:
    1. The site is determined to be ``N'' (Non Wetland) on the Base 
Map.
    a. There may be situations with the Base Map being marked ``Y'' 
when the site may be determined to have cropping history with the use 
of steps #2 and #3 (resulting in a FW label).
    2. The site was cropped at least once prior to December 23, 1985--
    a. Evidence of Pre-1985 cropping appears on at least one piece of 
remote imagery.
    b. Pre-1985 imagery indicates that the site was cleared of woody 
vegetation and the mapped soil type is commonly suited for crop 
production (as indicated on ``Use and Vegetation'' section of the 
Official Soil Description).

[[Page 27400]]

    c. Farm Service Agency informs NRCS of cropping history.
    d. An individual provides a written statement of when the site was 
cropped or imagery demonstrating so.
    3. The site was suitable for crop production on December 23, 1985 
(can use a and/or b)--
    a. 1985 or 1986 imagery indicates the site--
    i. Is being cropped, or
    ii. Is being used for pasture or hayland production absent of 
wetland indicators, or
    iii. Is not inundated with surface water, or
    iv. Does not contain woody vegetation such that:
    1. Only isolated individual specimens that would not hinder 
conventional row planting are observed, and
    2. There are not so many trees that a non-ag determination should 
be completed.
    b. The Farm Services Agency informs NRCS of 1985 cropping history, 
``set-aside'' history, or other status indicating that the site was 
suitable for crop production.
    [rtarr8] Proceed to Section 2.2.

2.2 VERIFICATION OF PRE-DECEMBER 23, 1985 MANIPULATION(S)

    Manipulations are defined by regulation as an activity that drains, 
dredges, fills, levels, or otherwise manipulates, including the removal 
of woody vegetation, or any activity that results in impairing or 
reducing the flow and circulation of water, for the purpose of or to 
have the effect of making possible the production of an agricultural 
commodity.
    The analysis related to pre-1985 manipulations has been completed 
in Step 1-1.1 DEVELOP A BASE MAP AND DETERMINATION OF NORMAL 
CIRCUMSTANCES (NC).
    Evidence of pre-1985 manipulations presented during the following 
steps in the FSA label determination step should be applied to the 
steps in Section 1 (Developing the Base Map) to determine if the 
analysis completed in Section 2 needs reconsidered.

2.3A VERIFICATION OF POST-1985 POTENTIAL MANIPULATION AND/OR CONVERSION

    The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that a 
post-1985 potential conversion occurred.
     Post-1986 imagery/aerial photography showing a 
manipulation(s).
     Post-1985 NRCS or Farm Service Agency records showing a 
manipulation(s).
     Post-1985 producer-provided records showing a 
manipulation(s).
     Post-1985 land-based photographs showing a 
manipulation(s).
     DEMs derived from LIDAR data showing a manipulation.
    Post-1985 Potential Conversion Decision Threshold (the factor is 
met if):
    1. The manipulation appears on at least one indicator from post-
1985 data.
    NOTE: A site visit is required for potential wetland violations and 
a FSA-569 will be issued. Refer to 7CFR12 and NFSAM 514.1 to determine 
the circumstances that require a site visit.

2.3B VERIFICATION OF POTENTIAL MANIPULATION OR CONVERSION BETWEEN 
DECEMBER 23, 1985 AND NOVEMBER 28, 1990

    The following remote indicators will be used to indicate whether a 
potential manipulation or conversion occurred before or after November 
28, 1990.
     Imagery/aerial photography showing a manipulation(s) after 
December 23, 1985 but before November 28, 1990 (NFSAM Part 514).
     NRCS or Farm Service Agency records showing a 
manipulation(s) after December 23, 1985 but before November 28, 1990.
     Producer-provided records showing a manipulation(s) after 
December 23, 1985 but before November 28, 1990.
     Land-based photographs showing a manipulation(s) after 
December 23, 1985 but before November 28, 1990.
     DEMs derived from LIDAR data indicating a manipulation 
after December 23, 1985 but before November 28, 1990.
    Pre-1990 Potential Conversion Decision Threshold (the factor is met 
if):
    1. The manipulation appears on at least one indicator from data 
representing conditions between December 23, 1985 and November 28, 
1990.
    NOTE: A site visit is required for potential wetland violations and 
a FSA-569 will be issued. Refer to 7CFR12 and NFSAM 514.1 to determine 
the circumstances that require a site visit.

2.3C VERIFICATION OF POTENTIAL MANIPULATION OR CONVERSION AFTER 
NOVEMBER 28, 1990

    The following remote indicators will be used to indicate whether a 
potential manipulation or conversion occurred after November 28, 1990.
     Imagery/aerial photography showing a manipulation(s) after 
November 28, 1990 (NFSAM Part 514).
     NRCS or Farm Service Agency records showing a 
manipulation(s) after November 28, 1990.
     Producer provided records showing a manipulation(s) after 
November 28, 1990.
     Land-based photographs showing a manipulation (e.g. tile 
inlet/outlet) after November 28, 1990.
     DEMs derived from LIDAR data indicating a manipulation 
after November 28, 1990.
    Post-1990 Potential Conversion Decision Threshold (the factor is 
met if):
    1. The manipulation appears on at least one indicator representing 
conditions after November 28, 1990.
    NOTE: A site visit is required for potential wetland violations and 
a FSA-569 will be issued. Refer to 7CFR12 and NFSAM 514.1 to determine 
the circumstances that require a site visit.
    [rtarr8] Proceed to Section 2.4, 2.5, or 2.6 as appropriate. These 
sections identify land forms that meet the definition of depressional 
Farmed Wetlands, closed depressional Farmed Wetlands known as potholes, 
and Farmed Wetland Pastures. Proceed to section 2.7 if none of these 
are appropriate.

2.4 VERIFICATION OF CROPPED GLACIATED CLOSED DEPRESSIONAL LANDFORM

COMPLETE THIS STEP ONLY IF A Pre-December 23, 1985 MANIPULATION WAS 
DOCUMENTED

    The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that the 
site is a glaciated depression or land form that does not have 
topography that allows accumulated surface water to flow off-site such 
that it meets the definition of a Farmed Wetland pothole (FW).
    1. Imagery, land-based photography, or other data show evidence 
that 7 consecutive days of inundation or 14 consecutive days saturation 
occurs in a closed topographic depression in a glaciated upland (non-
floodplain, non-drainage way) landscape during the growing season. The 
term upland follows the concept from the national Soil Survey Handbook 
(NSSH). Imagery evidence includes--
    a. Surface water.
    b. Flooded or drowned out crops.
    c. Vegetative color variation.
    d. Stressed crops.
    e. Un-harvested crops.
    f. Isolated areas not farmed with the rest of the field.
    g. Non-agricultural vegetation.
    2. DEMS derived from LIDAR show a closed topographic depression in 
a glaciated upland landscape position.
    3. USGS Topographic map or other land survey shows a closed 
topographic depression in a glaciated upland landscape position.

[[Page 27401]]

    4. Soil Survey data show a depression, pothole, or closed 
topographic depression in a glaciated upland landscape position. Refer 
to Attachment B for further information.
    5. A combination of US FWS NWI map and one other indicator from 
step 1.3.
    Glaciated Closed Depression Decision Threshold is met if:
    A. The landform appears on at least one of the five remote 
indicators. The more indicators that can be assigned to a specific 
area, the greater the probability that it qualifies as a glaciated 
closed depressional area that meets the definition of a Farmed Wetland 
(FW).

OR

    B. NRCS records show field-verified manipulations with an 
assessment of duration, such as drainage equations found in the 
National Engineering Handbook, Chapter 19.
    [rtarr8] Document and proceed to the section 2.5.

2.5 VERIFICATION OF PASTURED OPEN-ENDED DEPRESSIONAL AREAS WITH 
CONSECUTIVE LENGTH (DURATION) OF PONDING AND/OR SATURATION DURING THE 
GROWING SEASON ON DECEMBER 23, 1985 IN MOST YEARS

COMPLETE THIS STEP ONLY IF A Pre-December 23, 1985 MANIPULATION WAS 
DOCUMENTED

    The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that 
sites that have been manipulated but still warrant a ``Y'' on the Base 
Map exhibit the duration of inundation or saturation required to meet 
the criteria for pasture and hay land that contains depressions or 
other topography sufficient to allow water to accumulate such that it 
meets the definition of a Farmed Wetland Pasture (FWP).
    1. 1980 through 1986 Farm Service Agency aerial imagery (taken 
during the growing season as defined in Part 514.2 of the NFSAM) 
showing wetness signatures. Imagery evidence includes the following 
signatures --
    a. Surface water.
    b. Flooded or drowned out crops.
    c. Vegetative color variation.
    d. Stressed crops.
    e. Un-harvested crops.
    f. Isolated areas not farmed with the rest of the field.
    g. Non-agricultural vegetation.
    2. DEMS derived from LIDAR show a closed topographic depression in 
a glaciated upland landscape position.
    3. USGS Topographic map or other land survey shows a closed 
topographic depression in a glaciated upland landscape position.
    4. Soil Survey data show a depression, pothole, or closed 
topographic depression in a glaciated upland landscape position. Refer 
to Attachment B for further information.
    5. A combination of FWS NWI map and one other indicator from 1-3.
    Pastured Open-ended Depressional Areas Decision Threshold is met 
if:
    A. The landform appears on at least one of the four remote 
indicators. The more indicators that can be assigned to a specific 
area, the greater the probability that the area qualifies as a 
glaciated open-ended depression that meets the definition of a Farmed 
Wetland Pasture (FWP).

OR

    B. NRCS records show field-verified manipulations with an 
assessment of duration, such as drainage equations found in the 
National Engineering Handbook, Chapter 19.

2.6 VERIFICATION OF CROPPED OPEN-ENDED DEPRESSIONAL AREAS WITH 
CONSECUTIVE LENGTH (DURATION) OF PONDING AND/OR SATURATION DURING THE 
GROWING SEASON ON DECEMBER 23, 1985 IN MOST YEARS

COMPLETE THIS STEP (2.6) ONLY IF A Pre-December 23, 1985 MANIPULATION 
WAS DOCUMENTED

    The following remote indicators are suggestive (indicates) that 
sites that have been manipulated but still warrant a ``Y'' on the Base 
Map exhibit the duration of inundation or saturation required to meet 
the criteria for cropland that contains depressions or other topography 
sufficient to allow water to accumulate in order to meet the definition 
of a Farmed Wetland (FW).
    1. 1980 through 1986 Farm Service Agency aerial imagery (taken 
during the growing season as defined in Part 514.2 of the NFSAM) 
showing wetness signatures. Any other 1986 or earlier aerial 
photography may also be used. Imagery evidence is limited to--
     Surface water.
     Drowned out crops leaving bare soil indicating long-term 
inundation (``bulls-eye'' pattern).
     Non-ag vegetation on hydric soils.
    2. NRCS records show field-verified manipulations with an 
assessment of duration, such as drainage equations found in the 
National Engineering Handbook, Chapter 19.
    3. A combination of FWS NWI map and one other indicator from 1-3.
    Open-Ended Depressional Decision Threshold is met if:
    A. The landform appears on at least one of the three remote 
indicators. The more indicators that can be assigned to a specific 
area, the greater the probability that the area qualifies as a 
glaciated open-ended depression that meets the definition of a Farmed 
Wetland Pasture (FWP).

OR

    B. Results of analytical techniques (such as drainage equation(s)) 
show that inundation would not be removed within 15 days or consecutive 
days of 10% of the growing season.
    [rtarr8] Document and proceed to section 2.7.

2.7 DETERMINATION OF THE REQUIRED CONDITIONS FOR THE FOLLOWING WC 
LABELS

    Refer to Part 514 of the NFSAM, 7 CFR 12.2 and 7 CFR 12.5 for a 
full discussion of the requirements for various exemptions. The SOSM 
has determined whether the sampling unit is considered a Wetland (Y) or 
a Non-Wetland (N). 7CFR12 lists the possible Wetland Types--
     Artificial Wetland (AW)--7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(1)
     Commenced Conversion Wetland (CC)--7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(2) 
& 12.5(b)(2)
     Converted Wetland (CW or CW+Year)--7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(3) 
& 12.4(a)(2)&(3)
     Converted Wetland not for the production of commodity 
crops (No label)--7CFR12.5(b)(1)(iv)
     Farmed Wetland--depressional or pothole (FW)--7CFR12.2(a) 
Wetland(4)
     Farmed-Wetland Pasture (FWP)--7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(5)
     Minimal Effect Wetland (MW)--7CFR12.5(b)(1)(v)
     Not-Inventoried Wetland (No label)--7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(6)
     Non-Wetland (NW)--7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(7)
     Prior-Converted Cropland (PC)--7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(8)
     Wetland (W)--7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(9)
    All other WC compliance label assignments require the use of the 
NFSAM and on-site investigations. These include--
     Converted Wetland by Entity (CW)--7CFR12.5(D)
     Converted Wetland Planting Violation (CW)--7CFR12.2(a) 
Wetland(3) & 12.4(a)(2)
     Converted Wetland + Year (CW+Yr)--7CFR12.2(a) Wetland(3) & 
12.4(a)(3)
     Manipulated Wetland (WX)--7CFR12.5(b)(1)(iv)
     Third Party Conversion (TP)--7CFR12.5(D)

[[Page 27402]]

SECTION 3.0

3.0 FSA WETLAND DETERMINATION PROCESS STEP 3: DETERMINATION OF SIZE AND 
DEVELOPMENT OF CERTIFIED WETLAND DETERMINATION MAP

    The agency expert will analyze the final product to ensure that the 
size of the labeled area is accurate, particularly in response to post 
1985 developments. Sample units and WC labeled areas will be adjusted 
to ensure that the labeled area accurately reflects the 1985 status and 
any changes created after that year.

3.1 TRANSFERRING BASE MAP SAMPLING UNITS TO WC COMPLIANCE LABELED 
POLYGONS

    The agency expert will, as appropriate, further divide or combine 
the sampling units identified in Section 2.0 into labeled polygons for 
the certified wetland determination map. This decision is based on the 
answers to the steps in Section 2 (e.g. closed depression/open 
depression, cropping history, manipulation, hydrology duration).

3.2 CERTIFIED WETLAND DETERMINATION (CWD) MAP

    The Certified Determination Map will be depicted on the latest 
imagery that appears to be of normal precipitation. The map will 
contain labels for all areas that have certified determinations and 
preliminary determinations.
    The map will be of sufficient scale so that the determined areas 
can be easily seen. Additional maps can be made to better show site 
location, location of farm, and past activities on the farm to show 
manipulation and conversion.

ATTACHMENT A

Hydrophytic Vegetation Information

    The following resources are listed in Part IV of the USACE 1987 
Wetland Delineation Manual or are resources developed after the 
issuance of the Manual.

Ecological Site Description (ESD)

    As of the date of issuance of these SOSM, ESDs are currently being 
developed in Indiana. Once completed, a matrix correlating soil map 
unit components to ecological sites will be available in Section 1, 
State Offsite Methods, of the Indiana Field Office Technical Guide 
(FOTG).
    Ecological Site Descriptions and Range Site Descriptions are based 
on relative weight of component species, rather than the percent cover 
measure cited in the Corps Methods. Both measures are viable for 
determining the ecological significance of the species comprising the 
plant community. This use of these data is authorized in Paragraph 55-
Step 4(c) and (d) of the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual.

Approved Indiana NRCS wetland reference site data as it is developed.

    Indiana NRCS will develop wetland reference site data through 
formal long-term water table monitoring and data demonstrating that a 
specific soil type has both positive hydrology and a plant community 
dominated by hydrophytic vegetation. These reference site data are 
currently being developed for Cobbsfork and similar soils in Southern 
Indiana. The use of these data is authorized in Paragraph 55-Step 4(d) 
and (h) of the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual.

Indiana NRCS Wetland Soils and Vegetative Correlation Data

    Indiana NRCS will maintain and continually build a list of 
vegetative species observed, correlated with specific soil series, from 
past and future on-site determinations. In addition to this ``master'' 
correlated list, the certified agency experts may make use of their own 
accumulation of past determinations to indicate the presence of 
hydrophytic vegetation, particularly if a reference site is near the 
site to be determined. The use of these data is authorized in Paragraph 
55-Step 4(d) and (h) of the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual.

Locally Developed Soil and Plant association lists

    Certified agency experts can make use of previous determination 
data that demonstrates a correlation between specific soil types and 
observed plant communities dominated by hydrophytic vegetation. The use 
of these data is authorized in Paragraph 55-Step 4(d), (f), and (h) of 
the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual.

Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetland Inventory (NWI) Mapping

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Web site ``Wetland Mapper'' 
contains a list of vegetative species correlated to their specific 
wetland classifications. The use of these data is authorized in 
Paragraph 55-Step 4(b) of the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual

Official Soil Series Descriptions (OSD)

    The official soil series descriptions provide a description of the 
vegetation adapted to the soil in a section entitled ``Use and 
Vegetation''. The description of the vegetation can range from listing 
specific species to only providing a general description such as 
``Native vegetation is water tolerant sedges, reeds, grasses, and 
shrubs.''
    Indiana NRCS is in the process of developing a state-wide list of 
all of the listed soil series, indicating which descriptions can be 
used to indicate hydrophytic vegetation and which soil series 
descriptions are being updated to provide specific species information. 
The use of these data is authorized in Paragraph 55-Step 4(d) and (g) 
of the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual

ATTACHMENT B

DEFINITION OF POTHOLE

    The NRCS will use the definition of pothole, playa, and pocosin as 
noted below. This definition is subject to change via the rule-making 
process. However, any change in definition will not change the soils 
the state considers pothole, playa, or pocosin soils.
     Pothole--Pothole means a closed or partially closed 
depressional wetlands, generally circular or elliptical in shape, that 
were formed during the Wisconsin Glaciation. Potholes can occur in an 
outwash plain, a recessional moraine, lacustrine plain, or a till plain 
and commonly contain an intermittent or seasonal pond or marsh. Many 
pothole wetlands are seasonally dry, retaining water and saturated soil 
conditions due to snow-melt and precipitation runoff early in the 
growing season. Later in the growing season, evapotranspiration 
generally exceeds normal precipitation resulting in some potholes being 
dry for a significant portion of the year. The fluctuating hydrology, 
along with alterations implemented to improve farming, lead to a 
variety of vegetation characteristics including submergent and floating 
plants in deeper water, bulrushes and cattails in shallow water and 
sedges located near adjacent uplands. During dry periods, upland plant 
species can invade these sites and persist into wet seasons.
    NOTE: This definition is a mutually agreed-to definition by both 
Indiana and Illinois NRCS to describe the glaciated pothole region 
present in both states.
     Specific Indiana identification parameters are:
    [cir] Occurs within the Wisconsin glaciated region.
    [cir] Symmetrically closed depression.
    [cir] Ponds water greater than 1 foot in depth if not drained.
    [cir] Side slopes dominantly greater than 2%.
    [cir] Has a >=50% chance of being ponded for at least 7 consecutive 
days or is saturated for at least 14 consecutive days during the 
growing season.

[[Page 27403]]

     In Indiana, Potholes are located primarily in the upper 
half of the Wisconsin Glaciated Region and include, but are not limited 
to, the following soil series with the modifier ``pothole'':
    [cir] Harpster sil, pothole
    [cir] Milford msic, pothole
    [cir] Milford sl, pothole
    [cir] Milford sicl, pothole
    [cir] Pella sicl, pothole
    [cir] Peotone sicl, pothole
    [cir] Walkill l, pothole
    [cir] Warners sil, pothole

ATTACHMENT C

HYDROLOGY INFORMATION

    1. Hydrology information will be developed using Chapter 19 of the 
NRCS National Engineering Field Handbook--
    I. Part 650.1901--``Use of stream and lake gauges (pages 19-2 to 
19-5)
    i. This part may be used whenever there are data developed for such 
use.
    II. Part 650.1911--``Remote Sensing Applications'' (pages 19-85 to 
19-96)
    i. This part is to be used to determine the presence of hydrology.
    III. The use of the other parts of Chapter 19 will only be with the 
assistance of NRCS engineering specialists.
    IV. NRCS will use Purdue Extension Publication AY-300, June 2001, 
``Drainage and Wet Soil Management--Drainage Recommendations for 
Indiana Soils''.
    i. The guide provides a tile spacing distance range for each group 
of soils with a similar drainage capability.
    ii. The guide will be used to determine how far back to set a tile 
line from an herbaceous wetland, a farmed wetland, or a farmed wetland 
pasture.
    1. Each person receiving such a guide will be advised to use the 
maximum spacing range as a setback distance.
    2. Each person receiving such a guide will be advised that wetland 
labels such as W-Wetland, FW-Farmed Wetland, or FWP--armed Wetland 
Pasture will be changed to CW+Year if they are affected by the 
installation of new tiles, even if laid according to the guide.
    3. A Technical Assistance Note or a copy of the guide will be 
placed in the casefile of every person receiving the guide.
    2. The use of Farm Service Agency aerial imagery will serve two 
purposes--
    I. The identification of wetlands and non-wetlands as of December 
23, 1985. Consequently, the slides to be used are limited to those 
taken before 1987 as the intent of the interpretation is for the 
Wetland Identification prior to 1985. Slides and imagery post-1986, 
such as the 2005 infrared and other high resolution imagery, may be 
used to help identify ground and topographical conditions but not in 
the identification of wetlands under typical conditions.
    II. The occurrence of atypical activities in wetlands after 
December 23, 1985. Slides taken after 1986 are used for three 
purposes--
    i. To indicate if a wetland was manipulated.
    ii. To determine if a wetland was converted between December 23, 
1985 and November 28, 1990, and if it was converted--what year, if any, 
was it used for the production of an annual commodity crop after the 
conversion.
    iii. To determine what year, if any, was a wetland converted after 
November 28, 1990, to make it suitable for the production of a 
commodity crop.
    3. Normal Precipitation--
    The terms ``normal precipitation imagery'', ``normal 
precipitation'', or ``normal years'' is referring to a period of time 
where normal amounts of precipitation were received by the site. The 
time frame is normally 3 months. The amount of precipitation received 
by a specific area is arrived by using the procedure outlined in Part 
650.1903--``Supplemental data for remote sensing'' (pages 19-24 to 19-
31). This same procedure is used to determine if a site, during a 
specific date or time frame, received precipitation amounts within the 
range of normal rainfall or outside of the normal range with excessive 
amounts of precipitation, considered ``wet'', or low amounts of 
precipitation, considered ``dry''.

ATTACHMENT D

DESCRIPTION OF AVAILABLE REMOTE SENSING TOOLS

    Ten (10) potential sources of information are described within Part 
IV, Section B of the 1987 Manual. This section describes some of the 
sources listed in the manual, defines additional sources that NRCS may 
use to complete the CWD process. A source not being mentioned in this 
section should not be interpreted as that source being invalidated. The 
delineator should attempt to utilize all available sources of 
information when completing the SOSM.

United States Geological Survey (USGS) 7.5 Minute Series Quadrangle 
Maps

    NRCS employees are provided with the official USGS topographic maps 
within agency Geographic Information Systems (GIS). USGS topographic 
maps and other spatial data may also be accessed at: http://nationalmap.gov/ via ``The National Map Viewer.'' Topographic maps 
provide marsh or swamp symbols for wetter areas and the general 
agricultural status of the land relative to the date of the map (e.g. 
cleared ground that could be either cropland or pastureland, forested, 
or urban). Water bodies such as streams and ponds are identified and 
manipulations to those waters such as channelization or existing levees 
may be noted. Site relief is one of the most important aspects of the 
topographic map. Contours enable decisions relative to the site's 
ability to charge and retain wetness, and to recognize drainage 
patterns.

Topographic map limitations

    1. Check the date on the map or in the metadata for the date of 
revision. This may help determine a time range when changes occurred.
    2. USGS protocol was generally to delineate the wet areas mapped 
based on the driest season of the year, which may have missed several 
wetlands.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetland Inventory (NWI)

    The National Wetland Inventory (NWI) is an offsite delineation of 
potential wetlands. The NWI is an available tool that mapped potential 
wetlands when wetland losses were accelerating in the 1970's and 80's 
due to agricultural conversions and other wetland stressors. The NWI is 
accepted by USFWS, USACOE, EPA and NRCS as a first cut indicator tool 
for the presence of wetlands. NRCS employees are provided with the most 
up to date version of NWI data that is compatible with agency 
Geographic Information Systems and tools. NWI data can also be obtained 
directly from USFWS at http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/.
    Plant community and hydrologic condition are key components of the 
NWI interpretation and these interpretations were made at a time 
critical for making decisions relative to the FSA. Because the first 
iterations of NWI were commenced in the 1970's, the historical data 
provides an indication of the status of wetlands around the critical 
December 23, 1985 date. Hydrologic condition was interpreted using 
several water regime modifiers. The 1987 Corps Wetland Delineation 
Manual states in Part IV, Section B chapter 54 that areas mapped as 
``wetter'' than temporarily flooded and intermittently flooded have 
extremely high probabilities of meeting the wetland criteria (in excess 
of 90 percent). The historical NWI also indicates possible 
manipulations to

[[Page 27404]]

wetlands that were photo-interpreted from the base map utilized in the 
evaluation.

NWI limitations

    1. The NWI mapping protocol was developed prior to the accepted 
federal definition of wetlands contingent on the three parameters of 
soils, hydrology, and plants. Consequently, some of the early 
delineations may have only been based on the two parameters of 
hydrology and plant species. This was somewhat corrected with soils 
between the draft remote sensing interpretations and the final 
interpretations.
    2. The inventory was remotely sensed with generally no more than 5% 
ground-truthing in any given state.
    3. The inventory often fails to capture open land wetlands, such as 
farmed wetlands, as defined under the Food Security Act of 1985, as 
amended, because of cropping activities and/or disturbance of plant 
communities.

NRCS Soil Survey

    Soils information is a primary tool for making offsite wetland 
determinations. NRCS employees and the general public have access to 
the most up to date soils data via agency GIS systems as well as Web 
Soil Survey (WSS) at http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov.
    Field office business software or the WSS have reports available 
that will produce both spatial and tabular reports/lists for hydric 
soils. Currently this report for individual parcels should be a subset 
of the ``County Hydric Soils List'' which is referenced in many 
documents. Field office business software rates each map unit. Map 
units are designated as ``all hydric,'' ``partially hydric,'' ``not 
hydric,'' or ``unknown hydric,'' depending on the rating of its 
respective components. ``All hydric'' means that all components listed 
for a given map unit are rated as being hydric, while ``not hydric'' 
means that all components are rated as not hydric. ``Partially hydric'' 
refers to a soil that has at least one component of the map unit that 
is rated as hydric and at least one component that is rated as not 
hydric. ``Unknown hydric'' indicates that at least one component is not 
rated so a definitive rating for the map unit cannot be made.
    In Web Soil Survey, there are multiple reports that provide hydric 
soil information. ``Hydric Rating by Map Unit'' indicates the 
cumulative percentage of soil components within each map unit that meet 
the criteria for hydric soils. A related report, ``Hydric Rating by Map 
Unit (5 categories)'' further designates a hydric category for each map 
unit based on the cumulative percentage of its hydric components. The 
``Hydric Soils List'' provides the hydric/non-hydric status of all map 
unit components in the survey area. The ``Hydric Soils'' report lists 
only those map units that have at least one component that is hydric. 
The percentages of hydric or non-hydric soil components found in each 
report for any map unit are only an estimate. These estimates were 
derived from field observations taken by soil scientists during the 
soil survey but will vary for any map unit from one location to the 
next.
    The decision to use SOSM (remote sensing) versus an onsite visit 
for possible hydric soil inclusions is a primary objective of this 
methodology.

Soil Survey limitations

    The published soils data is a tool that provides evidence to the 
possible presence of a wetland. Some of the limitations to the 
published soil survey relative to offsite hydric soil determinations 
are as follows:
    1. All soil surveys rely on data that were gathered during a 
specific period of time. Land use changes or manipulations from natural 
or human events may now result in inaccurate soils data. Additionally, 
some wetlands, such as floodplain wetlands, naturally evolve over time 
into non-wetlands.
    2. A ``hydric soil'' component listed in the report may have 
properties that do meet hydric soil criteria. However, the entire range 
of characteristics of soil components classified to the series level 
may not be entirely within the range of properties for a ``hydric 
soil.'' Hydric soil criteria were developed separately from Soil 
Taxonomy. Therefore, any given component (series) may have a range of 
characteristics that is not entirely within the range for hydric soils 
even though the series is poorly or very poorly drained.
    3. Almost all of the soil maps in the state were originally drawn 
at a relatively small scale so some minor displacement of soil lines 
may be observed. Additionally, much of the digital spatial data 
available were created by recompiling and digitizing these hard copy 
maps. Errors such as mislabeled map units and spatial displacement are 
accidentally introduced as a result of the analog to digital conversion 
process. If an error is suspected for any reason, an original hard copy 
of the information should be consulted when available.

USGS Stream Gauge Data

    Stream gauge data may be a useful tool in some parts of the state 
for determining the hydrologic criteria of potential riverine wetlands 
subject to long duration flooding. Sites subject to long duration 
flooding (or ponding) that occurs during the growing season for 14 or 
more consecutive days > 50% of years under normal circumstances will 
meet the criteria of a wetland if the site also supports a prevalence 
of hydrophytic plants. Long duration periods of surface inundation meet 
both the hydrologic criteria of a wetland (14 or more days) and the 
hydric soil criteria of a wetland (7 or more days). Typically this 
method requires that the flood elevation be extrapolated across the 
landscape between gauges in order to analyze the potential of 
individual sites.

Stream Gauge Data Limitations

    1. Current stream gauge data coverage and subsequent analyses are 
limited in Indiana.

Remote Sensing Including Farm Service Agency Aerial Photography

    There are three basic film bands for the imagery available through 
the NHAP, NAPP, and NAIP: Color infrared (CIR), Natural Color (NC), and 
Black/White (BW).
    The currently acquired imagery by Farm Service Agency, NAIP, is 
digital ortho-imagery acquired during the agricultural growing season 
(leaf on) and the Farm Service Agency uses this imagery as a tool 
primarily to verify agricultural conditions for USDA programs. The NAIP 
provides one meter ground sample distance (GSD) ortho-imagery rectified 
within +/-6 meters to true ground at a 95% confidence level.
    From the 1980s through the 1990s, the Farm Service Agency purchased 
county-wide high altitude flights for resource assessments and 
verification of fields planted and types of crops grown. The spring 
flights make these sources of imagery very valuable for wetland 
determinations because they occur during the normal hydrologic period 
of recharge for the majority of the wetlands in the state. The Farm 
Service Agency Aerial Photography Field Office (http://www.FSA.usda.gov/FSA/apfoapp?area=apfohome&subject=landing&topic=anding) located in Salt 
Lake City, Utah, also houses and provides copies for a fee of paper 
aerial photographs (provided as a digital print) from past flights 
which were typically flown about every five to ten years.
    The NAIP imagery is accessible as a digital data layer in 
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and is available in all field 
offices, and certain flight years have the capability of being 
displayed either in natural color and CIR.

[[Page 27405]]

    Because Farm Services Agency imagery may be available on or around 
the key years of 1985 and 1990, this imagery is one of the most 
important tools available for making good offsite wetland 
determinations or decisions for requiring onsite investigations.
    In addition to Farm Service Agency, NRCS personnel have access to 
imagery from a number of sources. Imagery from the ``Indiana Historical 
Aerial Photo Index'' can be acquired from the Indiana Geological Web 
site. Imagery can also be viewed on many County GIS Web sites that are 
operated in conjunction with the Assessor's office. These sources tend 
to offer variability in timing and season of photography which provides 
greater perspective when making a determination. Many of these sources 
are not geo-referenced and therefore cannot be added to a base map 
within a GIS. However, the information that they provide is often 
extremely valuable to the delineator.

Aerial Photography Limitations

    Some of the limitations relative to use are:
    1. Low crop producing counties may have fewer available years of 
imagery.
    2. Many counties in the state have discarded early years of crop 
compliance slides.
    3. Early year crop compliance slides not digitized may have no 
mapping index and consequently are hard to organize and use unless an 
index is developed.
    4. Based on the actual flight date and the type of film, the 
imagery may be limiting relative to some interpretations. For example, 
flights in the growing season (e.g. leaf on) may result in 
misinterpretations of potential wetland features. In natural color 
images water, wetland understory plants, and drainage patterns may be 
obscured by the canopy of a mature forested cover.
    5. Normal climatic conditions (i.e. pre-flight rainfall patterns) 
assessed for the flight may still not accurately reflect the actual 
onsite condition due to local variability.
    6. Early year crop compliance slides may experience some fading of 
colors, although this rarely results in the masking of gross landscape 
features.
    Determining the Flight Date of the Imagery:
    Determining the date of the imagery is critical when making photo-
interpretations of imagery for wetland determinations. The actual date 
of the flight allows the reviewer to evaluate the climatic condition 
both for growing season decisions and for rainfall amounts and time of 
storm events. Actual days of the flight may be printed on the hard copy 
imagery or can be found in the metadata of digital imagery. Records of 
actual flight days may be available in the Farm Service Agency Aerial 
Photography Field Office as previously mentioned.
    Evaluation of Imagery for Normal Climatic Condition:
    The pre-flight climatic assessment (antecedent moisture condition) 
supports the quality of each flight year of imagery as a tool. By 
documenting that the normal condition relative to rainfall existed just 
prior to the flight, good wetland hydrology decisions can be made. 
Flight dates that occur within the growing season support the wetland 
definition. However, imagery flown outside of growing seasons should 
still be considered tangible evidence for the hydrologic condition 
during the growing season if similar rainfall amounts are expected 
during growing season months. Such leaf off imagery may better display 
drainage patterns.
    The methodology to complete this climatic assessment can be found 
in Chapter 19 of the NRCS National Engineering Field Handbook 
(Hydrology Tools for Making Wetland Determinations). Each month's 
rainfall amount is determined to be within the range of normal when it 
is within 30% to 70% of the monthly average. The three-month rainfall 
period is then assessed as a weighted average for the imagery, with 
more emphasis placed on the period just preceding the flight date. This 
assessment is used to determine the climatic condition prior to the 
flight.
    There are a number of good sources of rainfall data by month. The 
NRCS CLIMSYS WETS table, available for most counties in the state, will 
post monthly rainfall amounts for the 30 years of records used to 
provide county averages (http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/cgibin/getwetco.pl?state=nc). However, this data is usually at least ten years 
old for most counties. Current climatic data may be acquired from the 
following sources:
     National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration 
(NOAA) cooperative site: May provide data to within two months of real 
time, and this data is recorded daily. The Web site does not have a 
static url and appears to have limited coverage of the state. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climate-information/statistical-weather-and-climate-information
     Indiana State Climate Office: Offers hourly, daily and 
monthly reports. The site also offers access to additional data such as 
drought reports and long term moisture trends.
    -https://climate.agry.purdue.edu/climate/index.asp
     National Weather Service, Advanced Hydrologic Prediction 
Service: Provides a variety of search and report options for gathering 
climatic data up to a year to date in duration.
    http://water.weather.gov/precip/
     Weather Underground: May provide real time rainfall 
amounts. This source may be limited by the lack of available stations 
providing data. The closest station may be some distance from the site. 
http://www.wunderground.com/history/
    The weather station closest to the potential wetland site should be 
the first source of rainfall data. If rainfall data is unavailable for 
the needed period of assessment, analyze rainfall records from more 
than one station on each side of the site in order to bracket the site 
and support that the site received rainfall amounts similar to station 
data results.
    Wetness signature interpretations:
    Wetness signature is a change in appearance of a site from the 
surrounding land readily visible on aerial photography due to excessive 
moisture or wetness. Indicators of wetness signature include:

    a. Surface water
    b. Flooded or drowned out crops
    c. Long-term inundation that leaves a distinctive ``bulls-eye'' or 
``bathtub ring'' signature indicating very gradual percolation and/or 
evaporation.
    d. Stressed vegetation (e.g. leaf yellowing, timber kills, etc.);
    e. Differences in vegetation color due to management, such as 
delayed planting or harvesting;
    f. Isolated, squared, and/or irregularly shaped areas not managed 
similar to rest of the agricultural field (i.e. not cropped, not 
harvested);
    g. Patches of lush or greener vegetation, which may be especially 
pronounced in a drier than normal image or during a drought.
    h. Unharvested crops in an otherwise harvest field
    i. Non-agricultural vegetation in place of crops on hydric soils or 
inclusions.
    j. A consistent land change or vegetative boundary outline, or 
footprint, can be indicative of a wetland of some type when the other 
characteristics, such as color or texture, may be too subtle to call 
for a different sampling unit or label on their own.
    It is important to confirm the landscape position and relief of the 
site when making wetness signature interpretations. Recognize that 
similar irregular patterns on upland sloping agricultural areas may be 
such things as

[[Page 27406]]

fertilizer skips, seeding skips, herbicide drift, gully erosion, a dry 
ridge top or hill crown, or exposed subsoil rather than wetness 
signature.
    Ground-truthing, or on-site analysis, is not required to make an 
offsite wetland determination. However, it is an important 
consideration for making sound remote sensing interpretations and 
should be a part of the training protocol for any wetland specialist 
using this method. While the policy is to do as many determinations as 
possible using offsite methods for both the identification of wetlands 
(SOSM) and the identification of wetland type (SOWTP), this process 
encourages the use of ground-truthing when needed for increased 
accuracy in the determination. Newly trained agency experts especially 
are encouraged to make an on-site analysis in order to better develop 
their ability to interpret offsite data.
    Wetness signature is always easier to detect from imagery in open 
agricultural areas because of the physical responses of plant 
communities to wetness or dryness after periodic agricultural 
disturbances. In cropped areas, bare ground will periodically be the 
condition of the site in some flights. Forested areas are harder to 
remote sense for wetness signature due to leaf cover, shadows, lack of 
disturbance and lack of visible response by the forest community to 
minor changes in wetness. For that reason, the user may be able to 
interpret wetness signature within forested areas from the open 
agricultural areas adjacent to those areas when characteristics such as 
relief and drainage pattern are considered. Wetness signatures at the 
interface of woods and crops are a signature of wetness in the woods, 
indicating that the woods should be visited to determine how much of 
the woods is wet if it cannot be determined with the imagery.

Digital Elevation Models (DEMs)

    A Digital Elevation Model (DEM) is a raster dataset that can be 
used as an elevation surface layer in a Geographic Information System 
(GIS) to display and analyze topographic and geomorphic characteristics 
within the extent of data coverage. For the Indiana SOSM process, DEMs 
refers to Digital Elevation Models that represent the bare earth 
surface of landscape, without buildings, vegetation, or other above 
ground features. The most up to date DEMs in Indiana consist of a new 
generation of high accuracy data derived from LIDAR datasets. This set 
of Digital Elevation Models is capable of accurately mapping a 2-foot 
contour interval on the land. The DEM and other landscape based data 
derivatives are available to NRCS employees for use in offsite 
assessments for the SOSM process and prior to site visits. Derivative 
datasets generated from the DEM can include contours, slope, shaded 
relief or hillshade, fill, flow accumulation, landform curvature, and 
aspect. These datasets are able to be used as remote sensing tools to 
aid in determining potential wetland geomorphology and detailed local 
drainage patterns. They serve as a valuable tool for this methodology. 
All NRCS employees in Indiana that have approval to perform wetland 
determinations are provided with access to the data and software tools 
to utilize and interpret the data within agency based Geographic 
Information Systems
    Indiana DEM limitations
    1. The current set of Indiana DEMs was developed from LIDAR data 
collected between 2008 and 2013 across the state. As a result, the DEMs 
will sometimes, but not always, be useful in interpreting the presence 
or absence of manmade drainage features such as ditches prior to 1985.
    2. DEMs from any source are similar to aerial imagery in that they 
store information about the state of the landscape at the time of the 
source data acquisition, in this case LIDAR collected between 2008 and 
2013. This means that subsequent changes to the landscape are not 
depicted which could include ditch cleaning, diversions, terraces, etc.

Other Data Sources

    There are a number of other valuable resources available to NRCS 
delineators. All credible data sources should be considered when making 
a CWD to ensure accuracy.
    Additional years of orthorectified aerial imagery are available, 
including 1998 NAPP (1 meter, leaf-off), numerous years of NAIP (1 
meter, leaf-on) from 2003 to the present, and multiple high-resolution 
local data sets (typically 1 foot, leaf-off, 4-band) collected by units 
of state and county government. More recent versions of the NAIP and 
high resolution local imagery include a 4th band of color infrared 
(CIR) data which can be displayed in a manner to further assist photo 
interpretation of wetness signatures.
    The USGS topographic maps were created prior to the 1980's and 
provide a good historical indicator of land use. The contour interval 
on the historical USGS topographic maps is typically 5 or 10 feet which 
can be insufficient for landform geomorphology interpretations in 
relatively flat landscapes. The use of high-resolution Digital 
Elevation Models (DEMs) derived from new LIDAR products now enables all 
of Indiana to be covered by 2-foot contour interval data to provide 
much more detailed views of local topography and landforms.

[FR Doc. 2016-10218 Filed 5-5-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3410-16-P