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Water: Planning

FY 2013 NWPG Wetlands Measure Definitions

 

Measure Code: WT-SP21.N11

Measure Language: Working with partners, achieve a net increase of wetlands nation wide, with additional focus on coastal wetlands, and biological and functional measures and assessment of wetland condition.

Type of Measure: Target measure; Cumulatively reported

Measure Contact:  Jim Pendergast, EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds

pendergast.jim@epa.gov | (202) 566-0398

Measure Definition

Terms and phrases: 

o   The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Wetland Status & Trends Report is produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and reports the quantity and type of wetlands in the conterminous U.S. 
o   A probability sample is any method of sampling that utilizes some form of random selection to produce statistically-valid estimates of a population within a know level of error.
 

Methodology for computation of results: The National Status and Trends Report is developed and published every five years by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This is the only federal study that provides statistically valid estimates with a published standard error for all wetlands in the conterminous United States. Aerial imagery is the primary data source, and it is used with reliable collateral data such as topographic maps, coastal navigation charts, published soil surveys, published wetland maps, and state, local, or regional studies. A random number of sites are also field verified. All photography is cataloged, numbered, tagged, and traced in a database management system.

The study is based on a scientific probability sample of the surface area of the 48 coterminous States.  The study uses a stratified, simple random sampling design. Geographic information system software is used to organize the information of about 4,700 random sample plots.  For each plot, aerial imagery is interpreted and annotated in accordance with procedures published by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The results are compared with previous era imagery, and any changes recorded. The differences between the data sets are analyzed and a statistical estimate of the change is produced.  The most recent Wetland Status and Trends report (2011) Exit EPA Disclaimer provides the most recent and comprehensive estimates of the current gains and losses for different types of wetlands in the United States on public and private lands from calendar year 2004 to 2009. The report shows a net loss of 13,800 acres per year, primarily attributable to a decrease in estuarine vegetated wetlands and freshwater forested wetlands. The reasons for the overall decline in wetland area were complex and potentially reflected economic conditions, land use trends, changing wetland regulation and enforcement measures, conservation initiatives, the impacts of the 2005 hurricane season, and climatic changes. The EPA will report this number in FY 2012 and then defer reporting on this measure until a new Status and Trends report is made available or this measure is removed or replaced in the Agency's Strategic Plan.  The next report will not be released for five to ten years. Note that this issue of the Status and Trends Report did not reflect change or damage to Gulf of Mexico coastal wetlands that were incurred during the 2010 BP Oil Leak.

Units: Acres per year 

Universe: n/a; It is not possible to reasonably project whether there will be wetland gains or losses.   

Baseline: 32,000 acres (Target based on the 2005 Wetland Status and Trends report) Exit EPA Disclaimer


Measure Code: WT-SP22

 

Measure Language: In partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, states, and tribes, achieve "no net loss" of wetlands each year under the Clean Water Act Section 404 regulatory program.

Type of Measure: Target measure; Annually reported

Measure Contact:  Jim Pendergast, EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds 

pendergast.jim@epa.gov | (202) 566-0398

Measure Definition

Terms and phrases: The Clean Water Action Section 404 Regulatory Program was established as a regulatory program for the disposal of dredged or fill materials in the waters and wetlands of the United States. This section is regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with EPA oversight.

Methodology for computation of results: Since 1989, the goal of the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 program has been no net loss of wetlands.  Historically, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has collected limited data on wetlands losses and gains in its Regulatory Analysis and Management System (RAMS) permit tracking database. The EPA and the Corps have acknowledged the need for improved 404 tracking. Between 2003-2007, the Corps, with assistance from the EPA, developed a new nationally standardized permit tracking database called ORM2 (Operation and maintenance business information link, Regulatory Module) to replace its existing database (RAMS). By 2008, ORM2 was deployed in all of the Corps' 38 districts.

ORM2 is designed to provide improved tracking regarding: type of impacts (i.e., work type); type, quantity and location of aquatic resources impacted; type, quantity and location of aquatic resource mitigation; type and quantity of mitigation by method (i.e., restoration, creation, enhancement, or preservation) or number of credits purchased at mitigation bank or in-lieu fee mitigation program.

The EPA will track and report on this measure each fiscal year by comparing the total acres of wetland impacts to the total acres or credits of compensatory mitigation. Mitigation may occur as one of three types: 1) acre for acre replacement; 2) functional replacement; 3) use of a mitigation bank or in-lieu fee program. Beginning with the FY 2009 data, reporting on this measure will proceed as follows: we will have data at end-of-year for the preceding fiscal year, i.e., results for FY 2010 in FY 2011. The Corps begins compiling the data after the close of the fiscal year.

Units: Wetland acres  

Universe: n/a; The measure is based on results from CWA Section 404 permits for new projects and it is not possible to reasonably project the number of new projects.

Baseline: n/a; The measure is based on results from CWA Section 404 permits for new projects and it is not possible to reasonably project the number of new projects.


Measure Code: WT-01

Measure Language: Number of acres restored and improved, under the 5-Star, NEP, 319, and great waterbody programs (cumulative).

Type of Measure: Target measure; Cumulatively reported

Measure Contact:  Jim Pendergast, EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds 

pendergast.jim@epa.gov | (202) 566-0398

Measure Definition

Terms and phrases: This measure tracks wetland acres restored (established and re-established) and improved (enhanced and rehabilitated) through EPA programs. 

Methodology for computation of results: These acres may include those supported by the Wetland Five Star Restoration Grants, the National Estuary Program, Section 319 Nonpoint Source (NPS) Grants, Brownfield grants, or the EPA's Great Waterbody Programs.  This does not include enforcement or mitigation acres. This measure is shared with other offices including: EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds Divisions, EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) Brownfields Office, EPA Gulf of Mexico Program Office, EPA Great Lakes National Program Office, and Chesapeake Bay Program Office.  Results are reported at a national level and are cumulative. 

For the 5-Star Program:  The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the 5-Star grantee, maintains a subgrant outcome tracking system that tracks the acres of wetlands enhanced, established, or re-established, miles of riparian buffer restored, and other information such as number of volunteers engaged in restoration activities.  NFWF provides to EPA annual documentation of wetland acreage enhanced, established, or re-established and stream miles buffered and/or restored during the life of the cooperative agreement in accordance with OWOW requirements.  For this measure acreage from wetland projects are added together.

For NEPs Program: the EPA has an on-line reporting system the National Estuary Program On-line Reporting Tool (NEPORT) that makes it possible for NEPs and EPA to track habitat projects.  The EPA annually aggregates the data provided by each NEP to arrive at a national total for all 28 estuaries in the NEP.  For this measure the EPA combines acreage totals from each NEP for all wetlands types for all projects that are described as establishment, re-establishment, enhancement, and rehabilitation (excluding dune replenishment).

For Section 319 Grants: The Grants Reporting and Tracking System (GRTS) is used by grant recipients (state agencies) to supply information about State NPS Management Programs and annual Section 319 funded work programs, which include wetlands and stream restoration and improvement projects. For this measure the EPA combines acreage totals from each project that either indicates they are restoring or improving wetland acreage and are not predominately considered storm water measures.

The Brownfields Office and Great Waterbody Programs provided minimal acreage at the beginning of the first report for this measure in 2004 and a decision was made to not to include acreage from these programs in subsequent years.

Units: Acres of wetlands restored and improved

Universe: n/a; There is no methodology for determining the potential number of acres that would become available for protection and restoration. 

Baseline: In FY 2006, the EPA reported that 58,777 acres of wetland were restored and improved through the Five Star Restoration Grants, the National Estuary Program, Section 319 Nonpoint Source Grants, Brownfield Grants, and EPA Great Waterbody Programs.

Wetland Subobjective


Measure Code: WT-02 (a)

Measure Language: Number of states/tribes that have substantially built or increased capacity in wetland regulation, monitoring and assessment, water quality standards, and/or restoration and protection. 

Type of Measure: Indicator measures; Annually reported

Measure Contact: Jim Pendergast, EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds 

pendergast.jim@epa.gov | (202) 566-0398

Measure Definition

Regions will work with states/tribes (S/T) to identify wetland program goals and assist them in the development and improvement of program capacity in one or more core wetland program area (Core Elements or CE's): regulation, monitoring and assessment, water quality standards, and/or restoration and protection.

The Regions will verify and report annually on the substantial progress states/tribes have made toward developing or improving these CE's. Substantially built or increased capacity will be measured by looking at the Core Elements Framework tables which can be found at: http://water.epa.gov/type/wetlands/estp.cfm Substantially built or increased capacity is defined as completing two or more of the actions found in these tables. All the regions have agreed to these measures.

The Universe for this measure is: [(# S) and (#T)]. Regions will track and report on yearly efforts of states and Tribes in their region; it is expected that this number will vary from year to year as it is not cumulative.

Headquarters is creating a template for ACS that will allow HQ to insert which state/tribe has undertaken capacity/improvement and in which CE area.

Units: Number of states and tribes 

Universe: 50 states and 579 tribes (see above)

Baseline: 0 and will be reset to 0 every year as the EPA is measuring efforts in a given calendar year and not measuring cumulative efforts. The EPA will look to this PAM to see if nationally states/tribes are continuing to build/improve program capacity from year to year.


Measure Code: WT-03

Measure Language: Percent of Clean Water Act Section 404 standard permits, upon which EPA coordinated with the permitting authority (i.e., Corps or State), where a final permit decision in the current fiscal year documents requirements for greater environmental protection* than originally proposed.

Type of Measure: Indicator measure; Annually reported

Measure Contact:  Jim Pendergast, EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds 

pendergast.jim@epa.gov | (202) 566-0398

Measure Definition Terms and phrases:

o    ORM 2.0: OMBIL (Operation & maintenance business information link) Regulatory Module. Database used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer to track permitting activities under the CWA Section 404 regulatory program.

o    DARTER: Data & Aquatic Resource Tracking for Effective Regulation. EPA interface for accessing records and commenting on proposed permits in the ORM 2.0 database.

Methodology for computation of results: Data for reporting under this measure is available in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ORM 2.0 Database. EPA Regions should use the EPA interface (DARTER) for ORM 2.0 to access this data. 

* For purposes of this measure, "requirements for greater environmental protection" are counted under this measure when EPA can document that its recommendations for improvement provided in one or more of the following issue areas were incorporated into the final permit decision:

1.    Demonstration of adequate impact avoidance, including:

a.     Determination of water dependency;
b.    Characterization of basic project purpose; 
c.     Determination of range of practicable alternatives;
d.    Evaluation of direct, secondary and cumulative impacts for practicable alternatives;
e.     Identification of LEDPA (Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative);
f.      Compliance with WQS (Water Quality Standards), MPRSA (Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act), ESA (Endangered Species Act) and/or toxic effluent standards;
g.    Evaluation of potential for significant degradation;

 

2.    Demonstration of adequate impact minimization;

3.    Determination of adequate compensation.  

Units: Final permit decisions with documented environmental improvements, as defined above.

Universe: 100% of all final CWA (Clean Water Act) section 404 standard permits in current fiscal year where EPA coordinated with the permitting authority.

Baseline: n/a; CWA Section 404 permits and those permits that the EPA reviews changes each year.

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