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NTCHS Annual Meeting Minutes (1/03)

January 29-30, 2003
Lincoln, Nebraska

Meeting Minutes

Members Present: Chris Noble (COE), Herb Huddleston (Oregon State University), Ed Blake (Nevada, NRCS), Buck Reed (USFWS), Mike Whited (WLI, NRCS), Lenore Vasilas (Maryland, NRCS), Chien-Lu Ping (University of Alaska), Richard Griffin (Prairie View A&M University), Mike Vepraskas (North Carolina State University), Jimmie Richardson (North Dakota State University), Bill Volk (BLM), Wade Hurt (NSSC, NRCS), and Chair, Karl Hipple (NSSC, NRCS).

Members Absent: Mike Lilly (NRCS), Wayne Skaggs (North Carolina State University), Bill Sipple (EPA), and Randy Davis (FS).

Resource Personnel Present: Full Time: Russ Pringle (WLI, NRCS) and Part Time: Carolyn Olsen (NSSC, NRCS).

Meeting was called to order by Hipple at 8:05 am Wednesday, January 29. After introductions, Hipple distributed objectives of this meeting and minutes of the previous meeting. Members read the minutes and made minor corrections. Motion for approval of corrected minutes was made by Griffin and seconded by Volk. Motion passed.

Hipple announced that the revised Hydric Soil Criteria were published in the Federal Register on September 18, 2002, introduced Ed Blake as the replacement for Neil Peterson (Washington, NRCS), and announced that Sipple is to retire soon and that EPA needs to name a replacement.

Reed moved that the essence of the fieldwork reviewed by the NTCHS during its annual meeting be captured in the minutes. Richardson seconded the motion and the motion passed.

Whited reported that test field indicator TF7 was being tested in the Chicago area (MLRAs 95B, 108, or 110). Two transects with consensus hydric soil, consensus nonhydric soil, and the TF7 (Drummer Series) soil will be instrumented and duplicated. Piezometers, wells, thermocouples, and precipitation gages have been installed. Platinum electrodes will be installed soon. Mark Bramstedt (Illinois, NRCS), Robert Darmody (University of Illinois), Bob McCleese (Illinois, NRCS), and Whited are lead investigators. COE is the funding agency. Vasilas reported that test field indicator TF2 was being tested in the Mid-Atlantic States. Whited reported that New England States may start some testing soon.

Hurt reported on the Magnetic Susceptibility (MS) work he has been conducting with Bill Zanner (University of Nebraska). The theory is that hydric soils should have significantly lower magnetic susceptibility than nonhydric soil due to the reduction of iron in hydric soils. This theory did not work in the Texas Coast Prairies but worked well in the playas of Oregon. Failure and success of MS technology maybe explained by a map produced by USGS that shows the iron content throughout the U.S. at a depth of 20 cm. Preliminary work indicates MS will work well in the purple areas and very poorly in the blue areas. Additional testing is needed in the yellow areas. Action Item: Hurt to email membership the map. Hurt reported that MS equipment from the only supplier of whom he is aware is costly. Richardson reported that an additional supplier might be Rinita Dalan (Minnesota State University Moorhead). Action Item: Richardson to email membership the address of Rinita Dalan.

Hipple introduced the topics of Biological Zero and Growing Season by referencing an email message from Joe Moore (Alaska, NRCS) which requested NTCHS define Biological Zero as "the temperature below which the growth and functions of locally adapted plants and microorganisms are negligible." Ping presented data (data enclosed) that indicate growing seasons in northern Alaska are not accurately estimated by a soil temperature at 50 cm of 5 or more degrees C but could be better estimated by soil temperature of 0 + 1 degree C.

Discussion concerning Biological Zero were tabled to allow Hipple to introduce the topic National Hydric Soil List and to allow Jim Fortner (NSSC, NRCS), as scheduled, to discuss the present NASIS hydric soil list status. Hipple stated that the only national list available was the 1995 list developed from "frozen" legacy State Soil Survey Database (SSSD) data. Fortner stated that two NASIS list alternatives are now available: 1) stored ratings from direct input and 2) derived ratings derived from NASIS soils data. Motion by Griffin that the National Hydric Soil List will be a composite of the various local Soil Survey Hydric Soil Lists and will be based on derived ratings not stored ratings. Vepraskas seconded the motion and the motion passed. Action Item: Hipple to write memo to State Soil Scientists that the National Hydric Soil List will be a composite of the various Local Soil Survey Hydric Soil Lists and will be based on derived ratings not stored ratings.

Biological Zero discussion resumed. Motion by Richardson that Biological Zero be defined as "the point that the temperature below which the growth and functions of locally adapted plants and microorganisms are negligible. Biological Zero is an effective condition to define the growing season regionally." Following discussion the motion and second were withdrawn.

Motion by Richardson that Biological Zero is defined as "the soil temperature at a depth of 50 cm below which the growth and function of locally adapted plants and microorganisms are negligible." Motion by Blake to delete the words "and microorganisms" from the motioned definition. Seconded by Richardson. The motion to delete passed. Motion by Vepraskas to accept the amended definition. Seconded by Richardson. Motion passed.

Noble reported that funds from COE for researching wet soils might be available in the near future.

Hipple and Hurt led a discussion concerning status of test indicators. Other than testing of TF7 and TF2 mentioned above Vasilas stated the Mid-Atlantic are testing some chroma 3 soils. Action Item: Hipple will draft letter to State Conservationists that states test indicators that have no testing activities will be dropped in 2 years and that all future proposals for test indicators must be written and contain an action plan describing test indicator, project participants, data collection timelines and methods, and a final date when the data will be submitted to the NTCHS.

Whited gave a report concerning the WLI funded projects with PIs of Steve Faulkner (formerly Louisiana State University and currently USGS) and Martin Rabenhorst (University of Maryland). Volk mentioned the ongoing long-term drought in the western U.S.

Reed provided the following (USFWS) report on hydric soil issues (NTCHS response is in bold following each of the issues). Reed's report contained additional issues solicited from regional USFWS staff.


  1. Inability to provide a revised national list of hydric soils due to lack of data populated in NASIS. Useful logic edit check comparing soil classification versus hydrologic and interpretation data. Need for revised hydric soil criteria in NASIS to produce a more accurate national list of hydric soils.
  2. Concern for how hydric soils are interpreted and displayed nationally now that each soil series is assessed separately by each state. Need to review edge faults and patchwork quilt distributions.
  3. Need for assessment of relative occurrence of wetland on each hydric soil. A good first step would be to identify all soils that always support wetland under natural conditions.
  4. Need for a more printer friendly version of the state and county list of hydric soil formatted to fit on letter size paper. Action Item: Hipple to try to determine if paper size reports can be made.
  5. Difficult to find county hydric soil lists on various state web sites. Need a shortcut list of pointers to each state county hydric soils listing. Couldn’t find county hydric soils lists for Arizona or New Mexico. Action item: Hipple will provide guidance to states as part of the new procedure for generating a new national list from soil survey area lists.
  6. Status of creation of regional hydric soil committees. The regional committees were to review the composition of the hydric soils list and all additions and deletions. Northeast (combination of New England states committee and Mid-Atlantic states committee) region is active. All others are not active.

Ralph Tiner, NWI Coordinator, Hadley, Massachusetts

  1. Solicit a letter from NTCHS concurring with the 1998 National List of Vascular Plant Species That Occur in Wetlands and urging the NRCS and other cooperating agencies to approve the 1998 National List and recommend official released and publication. Moved by Richardson that such a letter be written. Seconded by Ping. Motion passed.
  2. Does NTCHS endorse the regional New England hydric soil field indicators? No.
  3. Need guidance on the handling of problem soils such as Spodosols, soils with red parent material, and cryic/frigid soils.
  4. Suggests the compilation of a national field indicator guide incorporating the various regional field indicators. No, not needed. The Mid-Atlantic regional indicators are already a subset of the of the National indicators.  We are working with the New England committee to get their regional indicators as a subset of the national indicators.
  5. Need protocols to determine when a hydric soil is effectively drained. Tools exist, among which are FOTG Drainage Guide, ellipse equation, and DRAINMOD.

Brian Huberty, NWI Coordinator, Minneapolis, MN

  1. Suggest obtaining help of Bill Waltman (Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln) to aid in predicting the wetland water regimes defined in the Cowardin wetland classification system through the development of a model based on climate and hydric soil definitions and specific soil parameters such as soil temperature, depth to water table, growing degree days, etc. Can be done; Reed and Whited to work together to actuate.

Dave Lindsey and Norm Mangram, NWI, St. Petersburg, FL

  1. Suggests making the digital soils information easier to find, download and use with ArcGIS, especially providing data in shapefile format. Possible software problem.
  2. Concern over a number of poorly drained soils in south Florida that are not listed in county hydric soils list that are very obviously wetland and are being mapped as wetland in the south Florida Everglades mapping update. Work with Hurt.

Vasilas provided the following report on hydric soils for the Mid-Atlantic states:

Working on plant list and isolated wetlands. Monitoring TF2, anomalous bright parent material soils, flood plain soils, and ECF soils. Also instrumented soil sited for temperature studies. Looking at upland glauconitic that meet an indicator (F6 and wetland glauconitic soils that meet no indicator. Also beginning some work on interdunal soils. At the latest joint New England/Mid-Atlantic committees meeting some field sites had folistic material thick enough to be considered Folists; however, they were not fragmental and therefore don’t class as Folists. They class as Entisols. Action Item: Hipple to discuss with Craig Ditzler (NSSC, NRCS). Other activities are the production of a Mid-Atlantic States Hydric Soil Handbook and the coordination of a Hydrology Workshop. Motion by Reed that the NTCHS send a letter of commendation to the Mid-Atlantic States Hydric Soil Committee. Seconded by Whited. Motion passed. Action Item: Hipple to write letter.

Richardson announced that David Zuberer (Texas A&M University) had been selected to fill the NTCHS committee institutional vacancy.

The committee recessed for the day at 4:00 pm and reconvened at 8:00 am on Thursday January 30, 2003.

Vepraskas led a discussion concerning the draft Hydric Soil Technical Standard (HSTS). Much discussion was generated. Richardson moved to accept the basic technical aspects of the HSTS. Seconded by Noble. Motion passed. This motion effectively removed the draft status of the HSTS. Discussion concerning the HSTS ceased.

Hipple reported that if there were no objections he would put the minutes of this annual meeting on the Hydric Soils web site. No one objected. Hipple reported that he had received a request to have Whited liaison between the NTCHS and the New England Hydric Soil Committee and, since there were no objection, made this appointment. Hipple requested that members desiring NASIS training let him know via email. Hipple noted that there is a requirement that the NTCHS meet annually. The NTCHS agreed that this annual meeting requirement could be satisfied electronically (email, teleconference), if necessary.

Discussion concerning the HSTS recommenced. Whited moved that the current NTCHS policy statement concerning use of the HSTS be deleted and replaced with the following:

The NTCHS recommends that the HSTS be used to:

  • evaluate the function of wetland restoration, mitigation, creation, and construction,
  • evaluate onsite the current functional hydric status of a soil, and
  • modify, validate, eliminate, or adopt hydric soil field indicators for the region with appropriate supporting regional data.

Seconded by Richardson. Motion passed.

The current pH range covered by the HSTS is pH 4-8. Vepraskas moved that the pH range be extended to 2-10. Motion failed due to lack of a second. Hurt moved the pH range be extended to 3-9. Seconded by Vepraskas. Motion passed.

The current HSTS depths from which to measure for installation purposes is incomplete. Action Item: Hurt is to email membership a suggested correction.

Hipple received communication from Indiana NRCS concerning chanced in hydric soil criteria met for wet Histosols. The old method did not allow for the saturation criteria (2A, 2B1, 2B2, 2B3) to be reported as being met while the new method does allow for the saturation criteria to be met. The correspondence questioned which is correct. Hurt reported the new (allowing for saturation criteria to be met is correct. Action Item: Hipple inform NRCS Indiana that the new method is correct.

Action Items: Vepraskas is to notify Hipple of possible additional problems/changes needed to the HSTS. Hipple is to email membership and request for volunteers to work on the problems/changes.

The 2004 annual meeting of the NTCHS could possibly be in the Reno, Nevada area. Blake and Huddleston agreed to research feasibility.

Reed moved that the 2003 annual meeting of the NTCHS adjourn. Seconded by Whited. Motion passes and the 2003 annual meeting of the NTCHS adjourned at 12:05 am, January 30, 2003.