What does a landowner/operator need to know about wetland consultants and
the SD NRCS?
There are several things landowner/operators need to know before hiring a
private consultant. All of the following items must be completed:
- Be a USDA program participant.
- Have an active AD-1026 on file with the local Farm Service Agency (FSA)
- If an active AD-1026 is not on file then visit the local FSA office
and sign and AD-1026.
- Indicate the activity to complete on the AD-1026. For example,
new drainage, expand existing drainage, or maintenance.
- Verify whether or not a certified wetland determination exists for the
field(s)/tract(s) where the work is to occur. The local NRCS office
can answer this question.
- Verify whether or not a request for a wetland determination has already
been made for the field(s)/tracts(s) where the work is to occur. The
local NRCS office can answer this question.
- Obtain the services of a wetland consultant. The NRCS does not
maintain a list of consultants. For your convenience a partial listing
of consultants may be found at:
- Immediately notify the NRCS that a wetland consultant is hired.
- Complete the SD-ADS-6, Information Release Request form, from the local
Please be advised that the consultant DOES NOT certify the field/tract of
land. The consultant collects data for an NRCS Agency Expert to assign an
exemption label (i.e., PC, W, FW, etc.). The Agency Expert completes the
certified wetland determination. The certified wetland determination will
be sent certified mail from the NRCS or it can be hand delivered with a
scheduled appointment with the Agency Expert assigned to your county.
If consultant data is incomplete, inaccurate, or exceeds the consultant's
authority (as outlined within this Web site) then the SD NRCS will notify the
consultant and landowner/operator.
Delays in wetland determinations from SD NRCS may result if data is
incomplete, inaccurate, or exceeds the consultant's authority. Delays are
possible if weather conditions such as snow cover or rain prevent field
The purpose of this Web site is to provide entities wishing to perform wetland
consultant services for USDA program participants a convenient information
access portal. This portal is not all inclusive.
Additional South Dakota (SD) NRCS Wetland Information may be found in Section I,
South Dakota Mapping Conventions, of the SD NRCS electronic Field Office
Technical Guide (FOTG) at:
http://efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/treemenuFS.aspx. Weather station and rainfall related information can be found in the the
three folders (Rainfall Data, Shapefiles, Maps) within the same FOTG site.
If you need additional information or have questions contact Kevin Luebke,
Biologist, at (605) 352-1242.
- Consultants must be trained in the National Food Security Act Manual (NFSAM)
wetland delineation process by reviewing and understanding the "Wetland
Identification for FSA Purposes" training Modules 1 through 6.
- Wetland consultants should have documented wetland delineation field
- Wetland consultants are required to self-certify ALL training and field
experience. Wetland consultants must complete, sign, and date the
Consultant Self-Certification document on this Web site and file with the
original local NRCS office.
- Wetland consultants will use the most current version of the Federal
wetland delineation procedures and the NRCS mapping conventions and SD
specific forms (as listed on this Web site).
What is the SD NRCS Wetland
The SD NRCS will process requests for certified wetland determinations in
priority order according to the NFSAM state supplement. However, using a
consultant does not automatically mean that a producer using a consultant will
be serviced ahead of all other requests. The wetland delineation consultant
process does not involve the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and consultants are to
work with the local NRCS office, and Agency Expert.
The USDA program participant (producer) signs an AD-1026 at FSA and obtains the services of a
consultant. The SD NRCS does not maintain a list of consultants or certify
The producer immediately notifies the NRCS, in writing, that they
have obtained the services of a consultant and allows the NRCS to release
producer information to the consultant as identified on form SD-ADS-6,
Information Release Request. The form must be signed and dated in the
presence of a USDA employee or Notary Public.
The consultant provides the local NRCS office with the original
completed, signed, and dated Consultant Self-Certification document for
their files. The local NRCS office will file the document with each
applicable case file.
The consultant contacts the local NRCS office for information as
needed (mainly pre-2002 FSA photography). The SD NRCS will not provide
publicly available digital information (such as topographic mapping,
National Wetland Inventory mapping, soils mapping, and post-2002 digital
imagery) or USFWS easement information to consultants.
The consultant provides the local NRCS office with the consultant
The NRCS Agency Expert reviews the consultant
work products for quality and completeness prior to field verification.
If the packet (consultant work products) appears accurate then the
Agency Expert will respond to said work products ahead of other
producers on the waiting list that did not provide consultant products.
If the packet is complete, then the local NRCS office conducts a detailed
review of the work products and conducts the field visit to all of the sites.
If the packet (work products) is not complete or is of questionable
quality, then the Agency Expert
informs the consultant of the work product deficiencies. The SD NRCS will not
correct or complete the consultant’s work. The local NRCS office would then
move on to the next person on the list and the consultant would need to remedy
the deficiencies before the Agency Expert would look at the project again.
If and/or when the work products are acceptable to the NRCS the
then issues the certified determination (CWD) with the standard NRCS appeal
How will the NRCS Handle
The NRCS must field verify the work products completed by consultants.
the NRCS determined a site label (e.g. NW, W) in the office using Step 4 of the
Mapping Conventions then field verification is at the discretion of the NRCS.
The NRCS can use consultants’ wetland delineations and other work
products to complete a certified wetland determination.
When a consultant’s delineation or other work products are used to complete a
certified wetland determination, the NRCS will document on the NRCS-CPA-26
that the work was completed by a consultant and list the consultant’s name.
All information gathered by the consultant will be filed with the certified
wetland determination in the local NRCS office.
What Tasks Shall Wetland
Consultants Perform and Provide to the NRCS?
Wetland Delineation Pre-Planning
Review the off-site resources listed in the wetland mapping conventions
Review other off-site information that may assist in preparation for the field
Wetland Delineation Fieldwork - Soils
Use the county Soil
Survey to identify hydric soil map units or units containing inclusions of
Use the Field Indicators of Hydric Soils of the US (current version) and the
approved on-site procedures document to identify hydric soils indicators.
Wetland Delineation Fieldwork - Plants
Determine if a reference site is needed and coordinate with NRCS for its use.
Conduct the vegetation sampling, determine dominant plant species; analyze the
data and identify vegetation indicators according to the appropriate Regional
Supplement and the approved on-site procedures document.
Wetland Delineation Fieldwork - Hydrology
Determine Primary and Secondary Indicators and/or conduct remote sensing
analysis (Chapter 19, Engineering Field Handbook) according to the appropriate
Regional Supplement and the approved on-site procedures document.
Scope and Effect Evaluation
Items to survey include: wetland edge; wetland bottom; wetland control
point; ditch top width; ditch bottom
width; sediment in ditch at control point; culvert invert elevation;
road ditch invert elevation (at edge nearest wetland); and road ditch slope
direction. Complete the SD-LTP-14.
Field verification of tile depth, diameter, material, and location/extent. Tile must be
uncovered by the
producer. Complete the SD-LTP-15.
Wetland Conservation Compliance Findings
Enter field data into appropriate digital forms
Record producer meeting notes on digital CPA-6, Assistance Notes
Provide a summary/Interpretation as needed
Provide a digital and printed map of the wetland boundaries and drainage
Provide the wetland boundaries and drainage features as geospatial data in a
shapefile or layer format compatible with ESRI® ArcGIS™.
What are the Tasks Wetland
Consultants MAY NOT Perform?
The actual “Certification” of the wetland determination (which means completing, signing, and dating
the NRCS-026e), assignment of the NFSAM exemption
or label, and production of the associated map must be completed by NRCS
The determination of setback distances for new or
expanded drainage must be completed by NRCS personnel.
What is the NRCS
General Policy When Working With Consultants?
While NRCS personnel are field verifying the consultants work products,
consultants shall not impede the process by “disputing” whether or not wetland
criteria are being met. Harassment of NRCS personnel by consultants will
not be tolerated. Inform the USDA participant if consultants become
belligerent, use profane language, or in any way intimidate NRCS personnel. If
the situation does not improve, inform the USDA participant that the NRCS may
discontinue service as per General Manual 360.420 Subpart U, which states in
part: If an NRCS employee in the performance of his/her official duty is
assaulted, resisted, impeded, intimidated or interfered with, it could result in
suspension of NRCS services to that customer.