The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is soliciting public comments on the updated draft National Wetland Plant List (NWPL) developed as part of an ongoing interagency effort to identify and assign wetland plant ratings (indicator status) to species found in the United States and its territories. The NWPL provides a list of wetland plants by species and their wetland ratings that is used extensively by federal, state agencies, the scientific and academic communities, and the private sector in wetland delineations, the planning and monitoring of wetland mitigation and restoration sites, and serves to provide general botanical information about wetland plants.
In the early 1980s, the four primary federal agencies involved in wetland delineation –USACE, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service – realized the importance of utilizing plants and soils as indicators for wetland delineation purposes. These agencies agreed to assemble panels of wetland ecologists to review and revise the various plant lists for 10 regions of the country. The updated NWPL will replace the currently used National List of Plant Species that Occur in Wetlands, which was published by the FWS in 1988.
In 2006, the administration of the NWPL was transferred from FWS to USACE. That same year, the USACE Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., created a Web site used to update the scientific names and ratings for 8,558 wetland plants on the 1988 list. This process, which included academic and independent peer reviews of the process, resulting in the updated draft list announced today.
A public notice on the updated draft NWPL is published in the January 6, 2011, Federal Register and will provide the public the opportunity to participate in this national effort to supply input by region on the wetland rating of each species and to provide comments on the draft plant list.
Comments must be received within the 60-day notice period and submitted on-line at http://wetland_plants.usace.army.mil/. Comments received will be compiled and included as part of the administrative record. Regional interagency panels, in cooperation with the national interagency panel, will review and incorporate any needed changes resulting from the information received during the comment period. A final NWPL will be published in the Federal Register.