7 CFR § 12.30 - NRCS responsibilities regarding wetlands.
(a) Technical and coordination responsibilities. In carrying out the provisions of this part, NRCS shall:
(1) Oversee the development and application of criteria to identify hydric soils in consultation with the National Technical Committee for Hydric Soils and make available to the public an approved county list of hydric soil map units, which is based upon the National List of Hydric Soils;
(2) Coordinate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others in updating the National List of Plant Species that Occur in Wetlands;
(3) Make or approve wetland determinations, delineations and certifications, functional assessments, mitigation plans, categorical minimal effects, and other technical determinations relative to the implementation of the wetland conservation provisions of this part. Wetland determinations, delineations and certifications will be done on a tract, field, or sub-field basis;
(4) Develop and utilize off-site and on-site wetland identification procedures;
(6) Investigate complaints and make technical determinations regarding potential violations;
(7) Develop a process at the state level, in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to ensure that these provisions are carried out in a technically defensible and timely manner, seek assistance as appropriate, and annually review the progress being made on implementation; and
(b) Technical assistance from others In carrying out the provisions of this part, NRCS may request technical assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, State or local agencies, conservation districts, or qualified private entities when NRCS determines that additional staff resources or technical expertise are needed to address adequately the requirements of this part or to enhance the quality of implementation of this part.
(c) Certification of wetland determinations and wetland delineations.
(1) Certification of a wetland determination means that the wetland determination is of sufficient quality to make a determination of ineligibility for program benefits under § 12.4. In order for a map to be of sufficient quality to determine ineligibility for program benefits, the map document must be legible to the extent that areas that are determined wetland can be discerned in relation to other ground features. NRCS may certify a wetland determination without making a field investigation. NRCS will notify the person affected by the certification and provide an opportunity to appeal the certification prior to the certification becoming final. All wetland determinations made after July 3, 1996, will be considered certified wetland determinations. Determinations made after November 28, 1990, and before July 3, 1996, are considered certified if the determination was issued on the June 1991 version of form NRCS-CPA-026 or SCS-CPA-026, the person was notified that the determination had been certified, and the map document was of sufficient quality to determine ineligibility for program benefits. If issued on a different version of the form, a determination will be considered certified if there is other documentation that the person was notified of the certification, provided appeal rights, and the map document was of sufficient quality to make the determination.
(2) The wetland determination and wetland delineation shall be certified as final by the NRCS official 30 days after providing the person notice of certification or, if an appeal is filed with USDA, after the administrative appeal procedures are exhausted.
(3) In the case of an appeal, NRCS will review and certify the accuracy of the determination of all lands subject to the appeal to ensure that the subject lands have been accurately delineated. Prior to a decision being rendered on the appeal, NRCS will conduct an on-site investigation of the subject land.
(4) Before any benefits are withheld, an on-site investigation of a potential wetland violation will be made by NRCS. NRCS will make a reasonable effort to include the affected person in the on-site investigation. The affected person will be provided an opportunity to appeal the on-site determination to USDA if the on-site determination differs from the original determination. Such action by NRCS shall be considered a review of the prior determination and certification of the delineation. If the prior determination was a certified wetland determination, an appeal of the NRCS on-site determination shall be limited to the determination that the wetland was converted in violation of this part.
(5) A copy of the information from the final certified wetland determination and the wetland delineation shall be recorded on official USDA aerial photography, digital imagery, or other graphic representation of the area.
(6) As long as the affected person is in compliance with the wetland conservation provision of this part, and as long as the area is devoted to the use and management of the land for production of food, fiber, or horticultural crops, a certification made under this section will remain valid and in effect until such time as the person affected by the certification requests review of the certification by NRCS. A person may request review of a certification only if a natural event alters the topography or hydrology of the subject land to the extent that the final certification is no longer a reliable indication of site conditions, or if NRCS concurs with an affected person that an error exists in the current wetland determination.
(7) The wetland determination process for wetland conservation compliance includes three distinct steps. In Step 1, wetland identification, it is determined if the area of interest supports a prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation, a predominance of hydric soils, and wetland hydrology under normal circumstances. In Step 2, determination of wetland type, it is determined if any exemptions apply from § 12.5(b). The findings are reflected in the assignment of an appropriate wetland conservation compliance label. In Step 3, sizing of the wetland, the boundary of each wetland type determined in Step 2 is delineated on the certified wetland determination map.