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Field Office Technical Guide

West Virginia Field Office Technical Guide


To promote conservation of West Virginia’s natural resources in a consistent and responsible fashion.

The West Virginia Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) is the primary technical reference for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). It contains technical information about conservation of soil, water, air, plant and animal resources.

The technical guide use in any office is localized so that it specifically applies to that geographic area.

The technical guide provides:

  • Interpretations of resource use and potential productivity within alternative levels of management intensity and conservation treatment.
  • Technical information for achieving NRCS technical standards and land user’ objectives.
  • Information for interdisciplinary planning for the conservation of soil, water, air, plant, animal, and human resources (SWAPA).
  • A basis for identifying proper Conservation Management Systems (CMS) and components thereof.
  • Criteria to evaluate the adequacy of a candidate Resource Management Systems (RMS) to meet quality standards for resource management.
  • Standards and specifications for conservation practices, including requirements of state and local regulations.
  • Information for evaluating the economic feasibility of alternative conservation practices for RMS, Acceptable Management Systems (AMS), etc.
  • Technical material for instructing and training employees.

Limitation of West Virginia Technical Guide Application

The FOTG contains information for use in technical assistance to decision makers for resource management. The desired level of management is for non-degradation and sustainability. The information used in resource management must reflect specific sites and activities and conform to all local, state and federal requirements. The final product of the technical assistance and the decision maker’s choices will be limited by the initial breadth of consideration. The FOTG does not provide all information needed to solve every possible problem that may occur. Unique or complex problems may require additional effort, and resources. All conservation planners and integrated disciplines are encouraged to use this guide to avoid confusion for land managers and possible conflict with Federal Law. If there is a conflict with state or local law, state or local law prevails.


The Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) is a essential reference for those individuals concerned with conservation in West Virginia. The FOTG contains specific information dealing with the conservation use and development of natural resources.

The FOTG is designed to be used by technically trained persons who are assisting landowners, land managers, or responsible officials to plan, apply and maintain appropriate conservation practices.

The FOTG is a major reference for addressing top priority resource goals defined in the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Program for Soil and Water Conservation. These goals are:
    1)  Reduction of the damage caused by excessive soil erosion; and
    2)  Protection of surface water and ground water from non-point source pollutants.

Non-point agricultural and silvicultural source pollutants have been identified such as sediment, nutrients, animal wastes, pesticides and pathogens. The FOTG addresses these pollutants. Non-point pollution reduction concepts and techniques represent a relatively new and rapidly developing area of technical expertise. References, data and narratives will be updated as experience increases and the effects of improved practices are documented. Every practitioner is encouraged to submit new ideas and suggestions for improvements to the FOTG and make the effort for improving water quality practical and effective.

The FOTG contains five sections:

A system of consecutively numbered Technical Guide Notices for each section will be used to keep the FOTG current. Notices will transmit
new materials, supplements, revisions or correction items (including pen and ink changes). Attachments to Technical Guide Notices are to be filed according to instructions contained in the Notices.

A Technical Guide Notice Register is filed immediately behind the PREFACE. Record the following information for each Notice:

Notice number and date.
Section(s) affected by the change.
Brief description of action(s) required.
Page number(s) of affected material.
Date(s) of affected material.

The Technical Guide Notices may be destroyed when the instructions and required actions are completed.
All the data and references in the FOTG are materials to help the conservationist consider a range of alternative responses to a resource problem and assess the effects of each. The conservationist will develop a good understanding of nature’s relationship between resources, between cause and effect, between action and inaction and most of all between man and his environment.


    SECTION I – General Resource References

Section 1 lists references, cost data, maps, climatic data and other information for use in understanding the field office working area or in making decisions about resource use and conservation management systems. This information is to be filed by subject such as Agronomy, Biology, Engineering, etc.

    SECTION II – Soil and Site Information

Section II contains information about the soil survey of the local area. It contains soil descriptions and interpretations that can be used to make decisions about use and management of the land. Soil characteristics that limit or affect land use and management are identified, and soils are rated according to limitations, capability or potential.

    SECTION III – Conservation Management Systems

This section provides information for developing Resource Management Systems (RMS) to prevent or treat problems associated with soil, water, air and related plant and animal resources. Guidance is also provided for developing Acceptable Management Systems (AMS) when economic, social and cultural constraints prohibit RMS development. Conservation Management Systems (CMS) guidance documents are developed by major land uses in each field office and placed in Section III. Conservation Management Systems will be achieved when the quality criteria for soil, water, air, plants and animals are met. Quality criteria represent the level of resource protection which must be achieved in order to meet the Conservation Management Systems requirements. All conservation planning assistance provided to resource users will be directed toward achieving the quality criteria established for each of the five resources and their considerations.

    SECTION IV – Practice Standards

This section is an alphabetical list of conservation practices used by the field office, followed by practice standards. It may also include references and documentation requirements for the individual practices.

Practice standards establish the minimum level of acceptable quality for planning, designing, installing, operating and maintaining conservation practices.

    SECTION V– Conservation Effects

This section contains effects information used in evaluating CMS for the six resources (soil, water, air, plants, animals, and human) and is dependent on the conservation planning disciplines: soils, agronomy, biology, forestry, engineering, etc., for input.
Conservation practice physical effects including site specific data with quantified or narratively described effects for each of the six resources listed above are behind the corresponding title. Producer experiences of resource situations where conservation is successfully applied and instructions and technical notes such as those for developing case studies, identifying and documenting Acceptable Management Systems (AMS), and for following the Conservation Effects for Decision-making (CED) procedures are in Section V.

Table of Contents



SECTION I – General Resource References
Reference List
Cost Data
Erosion Prediction
Climate Data
Cultural Resources Information
Threatened and Endangered Species List
State/Local Laws, Ordinances, Regulations

SECTION II – Soil and Site Information
Soil Survey DATABASE Table Reports
Soils Legends
Soil Descriptions
Soil Interpretations

SECTION III – Conservation Management Systems
Resource Quality Criteria
Resource Management Systems
Alternative Conservation Systems
Guidance Documents

SECTION IV – Practice Standards and Specifications
Index of Practice Standards and
Practice Standards and Specifications

SECTION V – Conservation Effects
Effects for Conservation Management
Effects for Decision-making
Procedural References

Change Notice Register