20 January 2023 - Army Publish 2022 National Wetland Plant List (NWPL) in Federal Register
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), as part of an interagency effort with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, is announcing the availability of the draft changes to the 2022 NWPL and its web address to solicit public comments. The public now has the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes to wetland indicator status ratings for two plant species in the Arid West region. The Federal Register Notice (FRN) for the 2022 NWPL update can be found here: 2023-01026. The public comment period ends on 21 March 2023.
The two species and their draft 2022 wetland ratings by region, as well as the FRN, can also be viewed at the NWPL homepage, https://wetland-plants.sec.usace.army.mil/, under “2022 NWPL Update Information.” A link to provide general or species-specific comments is also available at this location. Users are encouraged to submit literature citations, herbaria records, experiential references, monitoring data, and other relevant information. Specific knowledge of, or studies related to, individual species are particularly helpful. Commenters should use their regional botanical and ecological expertise, field observations, reviews of the most recent indicator status information, appropriate botanical literature, floras, herbarium specimens with notation of habitat and associated species, habit data, relevant studies, and historic list information. Providing ratings without supporting documentation or information is not recommended. All submitted comments and information will be compiled and sent to the National Panel for their consideration.
USACE is also seeking comments regarding the NWPL update process and a proposed change to update the NWPL every three years, rather than the present every two years. Detailed information on the update process, protocol, and technical issues can be found in the following documents (available on the “NWPL Publications” web page referenced above):
- Lichvar, Robert W. and Minkin, Paul. Concepts and Procedures for Updating the National Wetland Plant List. Sept 2008. ERDC/CRREL TN-08-3
- Lichvar, Robert W. and Gillrich, Jennifer J. Final Protocol for Assigning Wetland Indicator Status Ratings during National Wetland Plant List Update. Sept 2011. ERDC/CRREL TN-11-1
USACE administers the NWPL for the United States and its territories. The NWPL provides plant species indicator status ratings, which are used in determining whether the hydrophytic vegetation factor is met when conducting wetland delineations under the Clean Water Act and wetland determinations under the Wetland Conservation Provisions of the Food Security Act. Other applications of the NWPL include wetland restoration, establishment, and enhancement projects. Additions or deletions to the NWPL represent new records, range extensions, nomenclatural and taxonomic changes, and newly proposed species. The latest review process began in 2022 and included review by Regional Panels and the National Panel.
1 December 2022 - Release of the Interim Draft of the National Ordinary High Water Mark Field Delineation Manual for Rivers and Streams
ps of Engineers (USACE) and EPA (the Agencies) jointly announce the availability of the Interim Draft of the National Ordinary High Water Mark Field Delineation Manual for Rivers and Streams (National OHWM Manual) and its accompanying data sheet. The Interim Draft National OHWM Manual provides draft technical guidance for identifying and delineating the OHWM using a scientifically supported, rapid framework. The Agencies are requesting comments and feedback from the public and practitioners on the Interim Draft of the National OHWM Manual via the public notice linked below. Following the public comment period and additional field testing, comments and feedback received from the public and practitioners will be utilized to further refine the Interim Draft of the National OHWM Manual for clarity, consistency, and technical accuracy. The one-year testing and comment period ends on December 1, 2023. A final version of the National OHWM Manual is anticipated to be published during 2024.
During the period while the OHWM Manual is an interim draft, OHWM identification and/or delineation for official USACE Regulatory purposes should continue in accordance with the applicable OHWM definition in the Federal regulations, Regulatory Guidance Letter 05-05, and any applicable USACE district policies. However, USACE Regulatory staff are encouraged to test the Interim Draft of the National OHWM Manual and provide comments and feedback by emailing email@example.com.
6 September 2022 - Paying for Individual Permit Fees Using Pay.gov
Applicants are now able to pay Department of the Army permit fees online at pay.gov instead of writing and mailing a check. This convenient option allows for multiple payment methods (bank account, Amazon account, PayPal, debit or credit card). The direct link for making Department of the Army permit fee payments on pay.gov is https://www.pay.gov/public/form/start/996412796.
5 January 2022 – Navigable Waters Protection Rule Vacatur
The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“the agencies”) are in receipt of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona’s August 30, 2021, order vacating and remanding the Navigable Waters Protection Rule in the case of Pascua Yaqui Tribe v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Please see HQ USACE Notification located at https://www.usace.army.mil/Media/Announcements/Article/2888988/5-january-2022-navigable-waters-protection-rule-vacatur/
2 December 2021 - Water Quality Certifications and Corps Permitting
On October 21, 2021 the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order vacating and remanding the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 regulations implementing Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. On November 18, 2021, after a temporary pause on permit decisions reliant on a Section 401 water quality certification or waiver completed under the vacated regulations, Corps districts resumed making decisions on all permit applications and requests for nationwide permit verifications. As part of that decision making process, districts will coordinate with certifying authorities on water quality certifications that are potentially impacted by the vacatur order.
Additional information regarding the vacatur can be found on EPA’s website at: https://www.epa.gov/cwa-401/2020-clean-water-act-section-401-certification-rule
30 July 2021 – EPA and Army Announce Next Steps for Crafting Enduring Definition of Waters of the United States
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) have announced plans for upcoming community engagements to inform their efforts to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). EPA and Army have stated a commitment to developing a reasonable, effective, and durable definition of WOTUS that protects public health, the environment, and downstream communities while supporting economic opportunity, agriculture, and other industries.
EPA and Army are announcing a series of engagement opportunities, including an opportunity for stakeholders and the public to provide written recommendations and a series of public meetings in August to hear perspectives on the rulemaking. In addition, the agencies are initiating Federalism and Tribal consultations for the foundational rule. The agencies also intend to host a series of dialogues with state and Tribal co-regulators this fall to discuss both rulemakings.
The full announcement can be found here: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-and-army-announce-next-steps-crafting-enduring-definition-waters-united-states.
For more information on submitting written recommendations or to register for the public meetings, see www.epa.gov/wotus.