Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program
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Professional Short Courses

COURSE TITLE: Wetland Delineation and Regional Supplement Training

INSTRUCTORS Philip Quarterman

COURSE DESCRIPTION This 5-day, 38 hour course provides training in basic wetland delineation, including the Western Mountains, Valleys and Coast, Arid West and Alaska Regional Supplements, as needed. It is intended both for beginners with background in biology or related fields and basic grounding in soils, plant identification or hydrology. It is also suitable for "delineators in training".

Credit Points: 2.5

SYLLABUS/TOPICAL OUTLINE Classroom Instruction (Days 1-3): Course introduction: Purpose and structure, materials Development of Corps Wetland Delineation Methodology: 1987 Manual and Regional Supplements, their purpose and relationship. 1987 Manual: Definition of “wetlands”, three-parameter approach. Discussion of “normal circumstances” and “atypical situations” Deep water aquatic habitats and non-wetlands Routine and Comprehensive approaches to wetland delineation. Time allocation: 1 hr. Regional Supplements (Both Western Mountains, Valleys and Coast and Arid West Supplements, or Alaska Supplement, depending on where course is offered). Introduction to Regional Supplements: Regional maps, physical and biological characteristics and distribution/types of wetlands in applicable regions and sub-regions. Time allocation: 1 hr. Hydrophytic Vegetation Indicators: Definition and hydrophytic plant communities. Sampling methodology, strata, plots. Wetland Indicator Status, current lists. Indicators: Rapid and Dominance tests (application of 50/20 Rule), Prevalence Index, other indicators (Morphological Adaptations and Non-Vascular Plants). Examples of 50/20 Rule and Prevalence Index will be worked through. Time allocation: 2 hrs. Hydric Soil Indicators: Hydric soil definition (NRCS). Introduction to hydric soil biogeochemical processes and features. High organic carbon soil texture, relict features. Soil sampling procedures, observation and documentation. Emphasis on observing slope, landform and micro-topography. Use of NRCS soil survey mapping, data and State hydric soil lists. Technical description of key hydric soil indicators from applicable Region(s) with emphasis on those most likely to be encountered in different soil textures. For instance, in WMVC Region, Histic Epipedon (A2), Hydrogen Sulfide (A4), Sandy Mucky Mineral (S1), Depleted Matrix (F3), and Redox Dark Surface (F6). Includes: Reading and understanding Munsell soil color chart, recognition of soil horizons, understanding of terms such as “depleted matrix”, “reduced matrix”, “gleyed matrix”, “distinct” and “prominent” contrast, size and abundance of redox features. Time allocation: 3 hrs. Wetland Hydrology Indicators: Corps technical standard for wetland hydrology: duration of flooding/ponding or saturation (14 consecutive days), timing (growing season) and frequency (50% or higher probability). Discussion of various hydrologic regimes in applicable Region(s). Consideration of seasonal variations. Use of precipitation data, aerial photographs, stream gage data, drainage models in evaluating hydrology. Growing season determination methods: vegetation, soil temperature, and long-term climatic data (WETS tables). Technical description of wetland hydrology indicators (primary and secondary) from applicable Region(s) with emphasis on those most likely to be encountered or relied upon. For instance, in WMVC Region, Surface water (A1), High water table (A2), Saturation (A3), Water marks (B1), Sediment deposits (B2), Drift deposits (B3), Algal mat/crust (B4), Iron deposits (B5), Surface soil cracks (B6), Water stained leaves (B9), Hydrogen sulfide odor (C1), Oxidized rhizospheres (C3), Stunted or stressed plants (D1), FAC-neutral test (D5) and Raised ant mounds (D6). Includes: Definition of “saturation”. Discussion of procedures and cautions/user notes. For example, observation of water seeping through pit wall to determine water table depth, observation of glistening on surfaces or on ped faces of soil samples to determine saturation, and procedures and caution with oxidized rhizospheres and the FAC-neutral test. Time allocation: 3 hrs. Difficult Wetland Situations: Problem Area Wetlands (naturally occurring) and Atypical Situations (disturbed sites). Procedures used when other two parameters are present and normal procedure cannot be used for third parameter. Problematic Hydrophytic Vegetation: Description of specific problematic vegetation situations, sampling and analytic approaches, including direct hydrologic observation, reference sites, aerial photography or other data sources. When to default to hydric soils and wetland hydrology for determination. Time allocation: 2 hrs. Problematic Hydric Soils: Describe problematic hydric soils likely to occur in Region(s) with faint/no indicators (situations include alkaline soils, volcanic ash/diatomaceous earth, sand and gravel bars in floodplains, dark parent materials, recently developed wetlands, seasonally ponded soils), or with relict hydric soil indicators. Describe procedures for hydric soil determination including documenting hydrophytic vegetation and wetland hydrology, landscape position, and presence of problematic hydric soil indicator or situation. Other procedures. Time allocation: 2 hrs. Periodic Absence of Wetland Hydrology Indicators: Describe approach and procedures used where hydrology indicators are lacking due to normal variations in rainfall, human disturbance or other factors. Include documentation of landscape position likely to concentrate water. Describe procedures for dry-season site visits, periods of below-normal rainfall, drought years, low snow-pack years (mountain areas), use of reference sites, hydrology tools, evaluation of aerial photography, and direct long-term hydrology monitoring (using Corps standards for monitoring wells). Time allocation: 2 hrs. Wetland/Non-Wetland Mosaics: Describe typical features of true wetland/non-wetland mosaics. Describe sampling approach used to estimate percentages of wetland and non-wetland using parallel transects and adjusted plot size/shape, either identifying each wetland boundary or using a point-intercept method. Time allocation: 1 hr. Project Approach: Preliminary research: Review topographic and soil mapping, NWI and local wetland inventories, historical aerial photographs. Precipitation records. On-Site Approach: Walk site, get feeling for macro and micro-topography. Locate low points. Feel for “give” or moisture in soil. Identify surface waters, get a sense for how sub-surface water moves on site. Identify plant communities and their ecotones. Lay out transects across physical, hydrological and vegetation gradients. Dig several pits to get feeling for transitional area before deciding where to establish formal plots. Narrow down distance between adjacent wetland and non-wetland plots as much as practicable. Time allocation: 1 hr. Completing Wetland Determination Data Form: Work through example of data form including: project site data, vegetation, soils, hydrology and final determination. Time allocation: 1 hr. Reporting: Oregon Department of State Lands reporting requirements (OAR 141-090). Report content and format, mapping standards, data standards (report includes landscape position, hydrologic setting, historic disturbances or alterations, antecedent rainfall records, site specific methodology, description of wetlands and other waters, and mapping accuracy statement). Submittal and concurrence process. (Depending on location, other standards, such as Anchorage Corps District reporting standards, will be covered). Time allocation: 2 hrs. Regulatory Jurisdiction: Provide general outline of jurisdiction over wetlands and “other waters”: “Waters of the state” in Oregon (OAR 141-085-0515), and federal jurisdiction (Clean Water Act Jurisdiction Following the US Supreme Court’s Decision in Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. United States) (June 2007). (Depending on location, other states’ jurisdiction will be covered, e.g. Washington). Updates on federal jurisdiction will be provided, as Corps/EPA current rulemaking process proceeds. Time allocation: 3 hrs. Field Practicum (Day 4): On-site introduction to project site approach: initial visual survey of site topography, plant communities and hydrology, selection of sample plot locations, digging soil pits. Vegetation plot sampling, identification of common wetland plants, hydric soil indicators and hydrology indicators. Recording plot data. Determining location of wetland boundary. Marking plots and boundary flags, recording with GPS unit. Time allocation: 10 hours Course Summary and Test (Day 5): Summary of main points of topics covered and lessons learned. Tests: Plant identification test (30 plants) and 50 question multiple choice/short answer test. Course evaluation. Time allocation: 4 hours

Philip Quarterman
9755 SW Barnes Road, Suite 300, Portland, OR 97225
P: (503) 372-3562
F: (503) 526-0775


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Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program
Last Updated 3/1/17