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Ascent Environmental, Inc.
(Senecio triangularis; Mimulus tricolor; Trifolium variegatum)
Corps of Engineers Releases
New National Wetland
Plant List

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) recently released a revised National Wetland Plant List (NWPL) for use in determining if the hydrophytic vegetation parameter is met when conducting wetland determinations for compliance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The 2012 NWPL supersedes the National List of Vascular Plant Species that Occur in Wetlands: 1988 National Summary and the 1996 draft revision of the 1988 list. It provides the hydric indicator status (i.e., likelihood of occurrence in a wetland or upland) for over 8,000 plant species.  Click on California and Nevada to find those state’s lists.  The NWPL for each state in the U. S. is available at the USACE’s NWPL website.

The 2012 NWPL was developed by USACE in partnership with U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Its release was published in the Federal Register on May 9, 2012. The 2012 NWPL became effective June 1, 2012 and must now be used for any wetland delineation. USACE assumed responsibility for the administration of the NWPL from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service in 2006 and began the latest review process for revising the 1988 list in 2008. The interagency process incorporated the use of a web-based system for scientific input and public comment. National and regional panels composed of 65 botanists and ecologists from the four agencies led the review process. The 2012 NWPL updates indicator status of 12% of the species on the 1988 list based on substantial new information regarding species’ affinity for wetlands acquired since 1988. Approximately half changed to wetter status and half changed to drier status.
Notable revisions in the 2012 NWPL include:
  • Addition of nearly 1,500 species (a 22% increase since 1988), mostly due to taxonomic changes.
  • More stringent review of species previously designated as facultative.
  • Elimination of the +/- qualifiers for facultative species.
  • The definitions of the five wetland indicator status categories (upland, facultative upland, facultative, facultative wetland, and obligate) were changed from percent probability categories to written descriptions.
  • Regional boundaries for wetland indicator status are now based on ecological regions that correspond to the 10 wetland regions identified in the supplements to the wetland delineation manual rather than on political boundaries. California and Nevada are within the Arid West and Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast regions. Lists can be downloaded by region or by state.
If you have any questions about the new NWPL or other issues related to wetland determination, the Clean Water Act, or botanical surveys, please feel free to call Ascent Senior Botanist, Tammie Beyerl, at (916) 842-3162 or
Ascent Environmental, Inc. is a forward-looking environmental and natural resources consultancy.  We apply our extensive climate action planning, natural resources, CEQA, and NEPA experience in our environmental practice with the goal of providing personal service and high quality results to our clients on their most important projects.

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Ascent Environmental, Inc.

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Sacramento, CA 95814

Main: (916) 444-7301
Tammie Beyerl : (916) 842-3162

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