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  Wetlands

WETLAND DETERMINATIONS & DELINEATIONS

Because the federal government bases the jurisdictions of the wetland regulatory agencies upon the relationship of a wetland with agricultural and non-agricultural land, a MOA between the USDA, USEPA, the Department of the Interior (of which the USF&WS is a division), and the Department of Defense (of which the USACE is a division) was adopted which defines agricultural and non-agricultural lands and dictates which agency has the lead for wetland determinations and or delineations under specific circumstances. This MOA defines agricultural lands as those lands, "that are intensively used and managed for food or fiber production to the extent that the natural vegetation has been removed and cannot be used to determine whether the area meets applicable hydrophytic vegetation criteria in making a wetland delineation." All other lands are considered non-agricultural lands (U.S. Department of Agriculture 1996).

In most situations, at a landowner's request, the USDA/NRCS may make wetland determinations and/or delineations on both agricultural and non-agricultural lands. The USACE and the USEPA usually only make determinations and/or delineations on agricultural lands in situations when they are pursuing potential CWA violations or when the land is being developed for non-agricultural purposes. The USACE may also perform determinations and/or delineations on non-agricultural lands when special situations such as linear projects (i.e., utility lines, railroads, and highways) are involved (U.S. Department of Agriculture 1996).

All wetland delineations are made with either the National Food Securities Act Manual (NFSAM) or the 1987 USACE Wetlands Delineation Manual. There is very little variation between the two manuals. To eliminate any possible discrepancies, however, the MOA establishes that at no time will both manuals be used to evaluate the same piece of property. The NFSAM will be used for all agricultural land property history. Certified wetland delineations may also be performed on-site by trained and authorized private environmental consultants (U.S. a set of prescribed practices and

If individuals want to know if wetlands are present on their property; if an activity in which they are involved will potentially impact a wetland; or if an activity is exempt under the NFSA they should contact their local USDA/NRCS District Office even if the activity is not on agricultural land. If the USDA/NRCS has jurisdiction, either through the NFSA or the MOA, they will perform the determination or delineation. If they do not have jurisdiction, they will refer the individual to the appropriate USACE or USEPA District Office (U.S. Department of Agriculture 1996).

[ Introduction   | Section 404 Program  |  Nationwide Permits & General Conditions | Section 401 Program/Critical Resource Waters | Swampbuster Prog.  | Interagency Wetlands Policy Act of 1989  |  Rivers, Lakes & Streams Act  | Wetland Determinations and Delineations | Conclusion ]

           
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Wetlands

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