New York Wetland Delineation Workshop

USACOE | 1987 Manual | Regional Supplements
Teatown Lake Reservation
Westchester County, NY
October 23-26, 2017

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Online Wetland Delineation Training

Basic Botany for Wetland Assessment | 2017

Conducting Effective Ecological Risk Assessments | 2017

Certified Wetland Hydrologist


Waters of the US Workshop


Wetlands and Soil Taxonomy


Classroom and Field Wetland Delineation Training | New York 2017


Classroom and Field Wetland Delineation Training | New York 2017


Classroom and Field Wetland Delineation Training | New York 2017


Classroom and Field Wetland Delineation Training | New York 2017

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 Featured Workshop 

Wetlands and Soil Taxonomy

Have you ever wondered what a Mollic Fluvaquents is?

Is an Oxyaquic Dystochcrepts hydric?

Why are desert soils and wetland soils in the same soil order?

Join us on October 19, 2017 from 1 PM to 3 PM EST and find out how to use soil taxonomy to identify hydric soils. This short 2 hour webinar will present the a general introduction to soil taxonomy and will include:

An overview of the National Technical Committee on Hydric Soil’s hydric soil criteria
A detailed discussion of the 12 soil orders and how to identify them
How to spot hydric soil clues in the soil subgroup name
How to use the soil name to better understand the wetland field conditions of the soil type
Plus a lot more
We will also provide links to the free mobile and desktop software that you can use in the field and the office to quickly spot hydric soils before you dig your first soil pit.

At the end of the webinar you will have the opportunity to challenge your knowledge of soil taxonomy with our all new soil classification game.

Join us on October 19, 2017 for a fun, informative and interactive adventure into the world of soil taxonomy.

This is a wetland related class and continuing education credits are available. 2 Professional Development Hours.

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Planes Fly into Smoke to Figure Out What it’s Made Of

Swamp Stomp

Volume 17, Issue 42

Wildfires produce large clouds of smoke. No one knows what the smoke clouds are made of unless a sample is taken directly from the cloud and tested. This is exactly what was done during the Rim Fire in Yosemite. A NASA DC-8 passenger plane and an Alpha fighter jet each flew through the plume with in-flight labs, that scientists created to measure exactly what the fire was producing.

Though the obvious answer is that fire creates smoke, not all smoke is made up of the same gases. The only way to tell the difference is to study the particles they ferry along. “That’s what you’re actually seeing when you see a smoke plume, you know the big white smoke plume. That’s sunlight bouncing off the little particles,” says Bob Yokelson, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Montana. What makes up smoke matters to human lungs and the climate—which is why Yokelson’s team and NASA’s Alpha jet crew are busy planning their next flights for late summer.

It is not easy to make a lab fly. It can take over a year for teams of scientists to design and assemble custom gas and particle measurement systems. Not only does to these finicky, temperamental machines have to work at a range of temperatures and pressures, they also need to neatly replace a row of plane seats or get even smaller.

The Alpha jet was converted from a fighter jet in 2010. Before this could happen, it had to be quieted down for civilian airspace, and equipped with sensors to measure trace gases in the atmosphere: ozone, carbon dioxide, methane, and formaldehyde. As its two pilots follow a fire’s smoke, the sensors continuously measure the air, according to Laura Iraci, the NASA chemist who runs the experiments. After a two or three hour flight, they land back at the airstrip with data cards full of numbers to analyze.

When Yokelson and his team outfit a jetliner like the DC-8 that flew to the Rim Fire, they get to renovate the plane’s interior. “We’ll take out every other row of seats, and bolt down instruments in their place, so now you have the scientist sitting in front of an instrument and they can monitor the data as we’re sampling the atmosphere,” he says. This summer, their team is getting a C-130 jet ready for its close-up–test flights, set for September.

Airborne studies like these have highlighted that wildfires burn dirtier than the ones that are carefully lit and contained in the forest. More particulate matter is produced by the bigger logs and wetter material. Also as fires smolder longer, they can actually start to release a serious amount of methane, which traps more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Both Yokelson and Iraci have lots more questions about what else fires dump into the atmosphere, and how the airspace changes throughout the course of a fire. Once the planes are ready again, they are headed for more smoke. The accurate field measurements are the key to good air quality and climate change models. The EPA would love to predict how wildfire pollutants might descend on neighboring cities and states. “We’re really optimistic that our data can provide sort of truth, so they can continue improving their models,” says Iraci. It may take a season or two to pump new data in, but predicting air quality around wildfires could get a lot better in the next few years.

Source: Wilhelm, Menaka. “The Tricked-Out Research Planes That Fly Through Wildfires.” Wired. Conde Nast, 25 July 2017. Web. 31 July 2017.

Posted on

WOTUS Repeal Could Devastate Pocosin Wetlands

Swamp Stomp

Volume 17, Issue 41

As the Trump administration moves forward with an executive order repealing the Obama-era Waters of the United Sates (WOTUS) rule, which clarified and expanded the kinds of bodies of water the federal government is responsible for protecting from pollution, a unique yet little known wetland habitat may be endangered of being eradicated.

Pocosins, meaning “swamp on a hill” in the indigenous Algonquin language, are found from northern Florida to Virginia, though they are particularly concentrated in North Carolina. Unusual compared to other wetlands in that they are not connected to larger bodies of water and are often less than a square acre in size, pocosins are essentially peat bogs elevated on hills above the water table of surrounding ecosystems in the coastal plains of the southeast. Ecologically, they serve as refuges for endangered flora and fauna, such as white-tailed deer, black bears, and alligators, and provide a number of ecosystem services including regulation of the salinity of coastal waters, aquifer recharging, flood and erosion control, and carbon sequestration.

They are also coveted by farmers for their incredibly fertile soil, and as such have been drained to make way for farming and development since the 19th century, resulting in the loss of 70% of North Carolina’s pocosins until state legislation was enacted to protect them in 2001. Since Republicans won a supermajority of the North Carolina legislature in 2012, however, wetlands protections have been largely rolled back in response to the oil and gas, agribusiness, and real estate sectors complaints that compliance with such restrictions unfairly burdens their businesses.

Under the Obama-era WOTUS rule, which has not yet been implemented due to a stay imposed by federal courts, the federal government would have the authority to prevent “navigable waters”, as stipulated by the 1972 Clean Water Act, from being polluted in addition to head waters, tributaries, and certain wetlands, potentially including pocosins.

The rule was intended to clarify the federal government’s authority over certain bodies of water after two Supreme Court decisions regarding water protection in 2001 and 2006 created legal confusion over the jurisdiction afforded by the Clean Water Act’s “navigable waters” clause. The 2006 decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy, favored by the Water of the United States rule, found that any wetlands sharing a “significant nexus” with navigable waters were covered by the Clean Water Act, while a 2001 ruling by late Justice Antonin Scalia determined that the act’s scope only covers “relatively permanent” wetlands.

Opponents of the WOTUS rule argue that it represents an overreach of federal power into the affairs of private landowners, who would be constrained by what they could and could not do on their own property if it happens to contain a wetland covered by Justice Kennedy’s reading of the Clean Water Act. Yet if Scalia’s interpretation is implemented by the Trump administration, not only will a variety of unique wetlands lose federal protection, such as pocosins and many ephemeral streams in western states, but so will a number of tributaries and headwaters that provide drinking water to as many as one in three Americans.

As it currently stands, Mr. Trump’s executive order will not have an immediate legal effect as the WOTUS rule makes its way through the court system, a process that could take longer than Mr. Trump’s first term in office. Yet with its federal protection in legal limbo and minimal protections from the state legislature, it is unclear whether North Carolina’s remaining pocosins will be around long enough to be impacted by the courts’ decisions.


  1. Davenport, Coral. “E.P.A. Moves to Rescind Contested Water Pollution Regulation.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 27 June 2017. Web. 4 October 2017.
  2. Richardson, Curtis J. “Pocosins: Vanishing Wastelands or Valuable Wetlands?” BioScience. Nov. 1983. Web. 6 October 2017
  3. Wittenberg, Ariel. “Clean Water Rule: WOTUS rollback seen as death blow for ‘very unique habitat.’ Greenwire. E&E News, 2 October 2017. Web. 3 October 2017.
Posted on

Wetlands Mitigate Property Damage from Hurricanes and Flooding

Swamp Stomp

Volume 17, Issue 40

As the devastation wrought by this year’s hurricanes continues to be felt in the Caribbean and the Gulf states, a recent study finds that coastal wetlands have the capacity to substantially mitigate property damage due to flooding and storms, saving taxpayers millions of dollars annually in averted losses.

The study, jointly conducted by researchers from the University of California Santa Cruz and scientists from private insurance, conservation and engineering groups, assessed the value of the ecosystem services provided by wetlands to mitigate flood damage in the northeastern United States caused by hurricane Sandy in 2012. Through the use of advanced computer modeling of storm surge flooding and a vast database of properties damaged, the researchers estimated that $625 million worth of property damage was averted due to the presence of coastal wetlands from Maine to North Carolina, with a 22% average reduction of damages for each of the 707 zip-code areas assessed in the study.

Their findings established a clear positive correlation between the presence of wetlands and the value of nearby properties, as well as between wetland area and averted losses due to flooding. This was true even in heavily urbanized coastal areas that had lost most of its wetlands, such as New York, where wetlands cover only 2% of the land yet still saved the state $140 million.

Wetlands are able to provide this service by acting like a buffer between the ocean and inland properties. As the storm surge produced by a hurricane moves onto the land, wetland vegetation significantly reduces the wave energy and height, with some wetlands attenuating surge action by up to 70 centimeters per kilometer.

Despite the profound ecosystem service value provided by coastal wetlands, only about 3% of private and public monies spent on coastal infrastructure are invested in wetland restoration while the rest is spent on “grey” infrastructure, such as concrete seawalls that can be expensive to maintain and often only redirect flood water to other areas, potentially exacerbating the damages to life and property.

Aside from damages caused exclusively by hurricanes, the researchers also measured the annual flood mitigating benefits derived from salt marshes in Barnegat Bay in Ocean County, New Jersey. They found that properties buffered by wetlands experienced an average of 16% fewer losses than those not buffered from the ocean by wetlands, suggesting that wetland restoration is a good investment even if few hurricanes make landfall in the region.

In an affiliated report by Lloyd’s Tercentenary Research Foundation, who provided funding for the wetlands ecosystem service study, strategies for funding wetlands restoration based off of the latter study’s findings were assessed.

Such strategies included investing in flood mitigating wetland restoration and conservation before a catastrophic weather event, which would reduce the price of insurance premiums and securities, allowing the resulting savings to pay for the initial costs of restoration. Then, after a natural disaster does occur, a portion of the public and private recovery and rebuilding funds would be allocated towards further wetland restoration efforts, making the coasts even more resilient and reducing flood insurance premiums further.

By quantifying the monetary value of the ecosystem services provided by wetlands, wetland conservation is made legible to politicians, investors and laypeople, increasing the likelihood that these areas will be managed responsibly both for the benefit of humans and for the benefit of the ecosystems themselves.

Sources: Narayan, Siddarth et al. “The Value of Coastal Wetland for Flood Reduction in the Northeastern USA.” Scientific Reports. 31 August 2017. Web. 26 September 2017.

Stephens, Tim. “Coastal wetlands dramatically reduce property losses during hurricanes.” University of California Santa Cruz Newscenter. 31 August 2017. Web. 25 September 2017.