The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), as part of an interagency effort with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is announcing the availability of the draft changes to the 2020 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 five plant species in select regions and the addition of 22 new plant species to the NWPL. The Federal Register Notice (FRN) for the 2020 NWPL update can be found here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-24/pdf/2021-05989.pdf. The public comment period ends on 24 May 2021.
The 27 species and their draft 2020 wetland ratings by region, as well as the FRN, can be viewed at the NWPL homepage, http://wetland-plants.usace.army.mil/, under “2020 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 administrative change to the South Pacific Islands subregion and the NWPL update process. 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 2020 and included review by Regional Panels and the National Panel.