Subject to subsection (b) and paragraph (6), the Secretary shall delineate, determine, and certify all wetlands located on subject land on a farm.
The Secretary shall delineate wetlands on wetland delineation maps. On the request of a person, the Secretary shall make a reasonable effort to make an on-site wetland determination prior to delineation.
A final certification made under paragraph (3) shall remain valid and in effect as long as the area is devoted to an agricultural use or until such time as the person affected by the certification requests review of the certification by the Secretary.
In the case of an appeal of the Secretary’s certification, the Secretary shall review and certify the accuracy of the mapping of all land subject to the appeal to ensure that the subject land has been accurately delineated. Prior to rendering a decision on the appeal, the Secretary shall conduct an on-site inspection of the subject land on a farm.
No person shall be adversely affected because of having taken an action based on a previous certified wetland delineation by the Secretary. The delineation shall not be subject to a subsequent wetland certification or delineation by the Secretary, unless requested by the person under paragraph (4).
No program loans, payments, or benefits shall be withheld from a person under this subchapter unless the Secretary has conducted an on-site visit of the subject land, which, except as provided in paragraph (2), shall be conducted in the presence of the affected person.
For purposes of applying the minimal effect exemption under subsection (f)(1), the Secretary shall identify by regulation categorical minimal effect exemptions on a regional basis to assist persons in avoiding a violation of the ineligibility provisions of section 3821 of this title. The Secretary shall ensure that employees of the Department of Agriculture who administer this subchapter receive appropriate training to properly apply the minimal effect exemptions determined by the Secretary.
The Secretary may waive a person’s ineligibility under section 3821 of this title for program loans, payments, and benefits as the result of the conversion of a wetland subsequent to November 28, 1990, or the production of an agricultural commodity on a converted wetland, if the Secretary determines that the person has acted in good faith and without intent to violate this subchapter.
The Secretary shall provide a person who the Secretary determines has acted in good faith and without intent to violate this subchapter with a reasonable period, but not to exceed 1 year, during which to implement the measures and practices necessary to be considered to be actively restoring the subject wetland.
Any person who is determined to be ineligible for program benefits under section 3821 of this title for any crop year shall not be ineligible for such program benefits under such section for any subsequent crop year if, prior to the beginning of such subsequent crop year, the person has fully restored the characteristics of the converted wetland to its prior wetland state or has otherwise mitigated for the loss of wetland values, as determined by the Secretary, through the restoration, enhancement, or creation of wetland values in the same general area of the local watershed as the converted wetland.
Technical determinations, the development of restoration and mitigation plans, and monitoring activities under this section shall be made by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Using authorities available to the Secretary, the Secretary shall operate a program or work with third parties to establish mitigation banks to assist persons in complying with the provisions of this section while mitigating any loss of wetland values and functions.
The Secretary shall develop the appropriate policy and criteria that will allow willing persons to access existing mitigation banks, under this section or any other authority, that will serve the purposes of this section without requiring the Secretary to hold an easement, in whole or in part, in a mitigation bank.