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NTCHS Annual Meeting Minutes (4/06)

April 4-5, 2006
Reno, Nevada

DRAFT Meeting Minutes

Members Present: Chris Noble (COE), Ed Blake (Nevada, NRCS), Mike Lilly (NRCS), Lenore Vasilas (Maryland, NRCS), Jimmie Richardson (NSSC, NRCS), Ralph Spagnola (EPA), Wade Hurt (NSSC, NRCS), Herb Huddleston (Oregon State University), and Chair, Karl Hipple (NSSC, NRCS).

Members Absent: Randy Davis (FS), Richard Griffin (Prairie View A&M University), Bill Volk (BLM), Chien-Lu Ping (University of Alaska), Mike Vepraskas (North Carolina State University), Wayne Skaggs (North Carolina State University), Dave Zuberer (Texas A&M University), and Bill Wilen (USFWS).

Resource Personnel Present: Russ Pringle (Central NTSC, NRCS).

Meeting was called to order by Hipple at 8:00 am Tuesday, April 4. After introductions Hipple distributed objectives of this meeting and minutes of the previous meeting. Members read the minutes. A motion for approval of corrected minutes was made by Huddleston and seconded by Noble. The motion passed.

Hipple noted that this was the last meeting Huddleston, as an NTCHS member, would attend. Randy Dahlgren (UC, Davis) has been selected to replace Herb. Huddleston was recognized with a plaque noting his service to NTCHS since 1990. The plaque was presented at Herb’s retirement party in November in Corvallis, OR.

Hipple led a review of the 2004 actions items:

  • Item 1 -- History of hydric soil indicators has not been accomplished. After discussion, it was agreed that Hurt would begin addressing the history of the development and evolution of the hydric soil indicators. Hipple agreed to contact Chris Smith, Russ Pringle, Steve Sprecher, DeWayne Williams, Mike Whited, and Arlene Tugle to solicit their help.
  • Item 2 -- Wet soil monitoring project write-up has not been accomplished. Warren Lynn is the logical person to accomplish this task. Hipple has contacted Warren and Warren has agreed to begin organizing the Wet Soil Monitoring Project materials as soon as he finishes writing the tour guide for the SE United States WCSS tour.

Richardson and Vasilas led a discussion concerning isolated wetlands cases presently being review by the Supreme Court. Noble explained the COE District to District wetland regulatory variability.

Spagnolo led a discussion concerning EPA issues and concerns. Concern has been expressed by EPA concerning the Hydrology Technical Standard as well as the Hydric Soil Technical Standard. Noble explained that the hydrology standard can be flexible in a specific region and for a specific wetland type. NTCHS agreed that, if EPA does not provide data that refutes the hydrology standard within one year, that the NTCHS will go on record via a letter to EPA as supporting the hydrology standard and also explain the differences between the Hydrology Technical Standard and the Hydric Soil Technical Standard.

Hurt explained that version 6.0 of the field indicators was provided to an editor in August, 2005. NTCHS decided 20,000 copies of Version 6.0 are needed. COE will help defray publication costs and their logo will go on the publication. Noble explained that as COE regionalization of the ’87 wetlands manual progresses there is a one year hydric soil indicator comparison (6.0 vs. ’87 manual) and once the year has expired all federal regulators would be required to use the hydric soil indicators in 6.0 along with modifications, if any, made during the one year trial period.

Hipple explained that the 2006 National Hydric Soil List is virtually complete, that it was a composite of local soil survey area lists and that the national list will be updated once annually around the first of the calendar year (Jan. or Feb.). Texas NRCS requested two format changes which were approved by NTCHS (removal of yes for hydric and placing percentage closer to component name).

Noble expressed concern that some regulators were inappropriately utilizing hydric soil list and soil series information. Noble will draft a letter explaining proper use of soil series, soil survey data, and hydric soil list. NTCHS members are to comment on draft. Hipple will sign and send the finalized letter to COE.

Richardson requested that the first sentence under Procedures in version 6.0 be changed from “To document a hydric soil, dig a hole and describe the soil profile to a depth of at least 50 cm (20 inches).” to “To document a hydric soil, dig a hole and describe the soil profile to a depth of approximately 50 cm (20 inches).” NTCHS agreed to the change without discussion.

Hurt moved that the following be added to version 6.0 in the appropriate location: Many of the hydric soil indicators were developed for delineation purposes. During the development of these hydric soil indicators, observations were concentrated near the edge of the wetlands and in the interior of wetlands; therefore, there are wetlands that lack any of the approved hydric soil indicators in their wettest portions. Delineators and other users of the hydric soil indicators should concentrate their observation efforts at the wetland edge where these conditions are suspect. Richardson seconded the motion and the motion passed.

Hipple led a discussion regarding members regularly not attending annual meetings. NTCHS consensus was that members of NTCHS are enrolled for a purpose. A telephone hook-up for input from absent members was suggested as the best method to involve absent members of the committee. Hipple will contact members who have not participated during the past 2-3 years to reaffirm their commitment to the NTCHS and its work.

Noble provided an update of the regionalization of the ’87 COE wetlands manual. The Alaska manual has been published and the 1-year comparison period started June 2005. Peer review of the Arid West manual has been completed and the 1-year comparison period should start September 2006. Drafts of the Great Plains manual (LRRs F, G, H, I, and J) and the Western Mountains manual (LRRs A and E and some MLRAs from the Arid West) are being produced and peer review should begin around May or June 2006. The Midwest manual and the Atlantic and Gulf manual will be produced next.

Hipple requested volunteers from NTCHS membership to review the Great Plains manual and the Western Mountains manual. No volunteers were obtained at this time.

Currently Field Indicators of Hydric Soils in the United States (6.0) has procedures explaining:

  1. Adding indicators or changing existing indicators and
  2. Adding or deleting a test indicator

Huddleston moved that the NTCHS review the Hydric Soil Technical Standard and the overall approach to approving indicators and separate:

  1. Proposing a totally new indicator.
  2. Proposing adoption of an approved for use indicator.

Blake seconded the motion and the motion passed. Hipple established a committee of Hurt, Vepraskas, Noble, and Vasilas to act on the motion.

Vasilas provided an update of Mid-Atlantic Hydric Soils Committee activities. The hydric soil workbook is complete. Electronic copies are available but no paper publication is available. Current studies include rates of redox formation and use of IRIS tubes on mitigation sites with plans to install in interdunal sites. Vasilas cautioned users that IRIS tubes may have a problem with proper reduction identification on sites that pond but do not saturate.

Spagnolo reported that some EPA employees have expressed concern at the lack of indicator F3 being an approved indicator in Alaska. Richardson provided information by Joe Moore (SSS, Alaska) and research that Richardson had recently completed that demonstrated that indicator F# provided both positive and negative results in soils of Alaska. It was therefore determined to restate that indicator F3 will not be used in Alaska.

Hurt provided NTCHS a copy of a request from Mike Whited to change the definition of Depleted Matrix to allow chroma 2 matrix with chroma 1 depletions to fit within the definition. NTCHS expressed concern that the current Depleted Matrix definition involves concentration not depletions but with proper supporting documentation the definition of Depleted Dark Surface possibly could be revised to capture the soils with which Whited is concerned.

Hurt provided NTCHS a copy of the following proposal from Vepraskas:

  • The Hydric Soil Technical Standard should be modified to require that rainfall (precipitation) be evaluated by any of the methods proposed by Sprecher and Warne (2000).

Noble moved that the proposal be adopted by NTCHS for HSTS use. Vasilas seconded and the motion passed.

NTCHS reviewed a proposal from David D’Amore concerning a proposed test indicator for Alaska.

Indicator - Clear color change: A layer at least 15cm thick with 60 percent or more hue 2.5Y or yellower starting within 30 cm of the soil surface. The layer above the 2.5Y or yellower layer has hue 7.5YR or redder. The boundary between the colors is less than 5cm thick and is horizontal.

Soil descriptions, characterization data, saturation data, and redox potential data were provided for some Alaska soils. NTCHS members are to review the proposal and data and provide comments to Hipple. Hipple will compile comments and forward to D’Amore.

Activities ceased at 3:40 pm on April 4 and the meeting was re-called to order by Hipple at 8:00 am Wednesday, April 5.

Huddleston presented Hydric Soils of Seasonal Pools in Semiarid Parts of Oregon and California as an ongoing project involving saline and sodic vernal pools and playas. Several indicators of hydric soils are in developmental stages including Sodic Pools, Vernal Pool Depleted Surface, and Vernal Pool Perched Redox. Huddleston encouraged the NTCHS to follow through and complete these indicators.

Richardson led a discussion concerning False Positive and False Negative field indicators of hydric soils in Aeric and Typic Calciaquolls in North and South Dakota. Concerns have been expressed. Richardson is to respond to concerns.

Hipple expressed the NTCHS’ thanks for the participation of Huddleston and Pringle.

Richardson moved for adjournment, Lilly seconded, and the motion passed at 10:10 am.

During the afternoon of April 5, the NTCHS participated in a field trip to a large playa in Churchill County, Nevada, and the Hidden Cave portion of Grimes Point Archaeological Area.

The FY07 NTCHS annual meeting was tentatively scheduled for January 30 and 31, 2007, to be hosted by Chris Noble in Vicksburg, Mississippi.