Association of State Wetland Managers - Protecting the Nation's Wetlands.

For Peat’s Sake: A New Chapter for the National Wetlands Inventory

For Peats Sake LogoBy Marla J. Stelk, Policy Analyst, ASWM

The National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) data layer has been and continues to be a primary building block for many geographic mapping projects and decision support systems used by Federal, State, and local agencies, academic institutions, and private industry for management, research, policy development, education and planning activities. NWI’s original mission was to produce maps of U.S. wetlands to aid in natural resource planning and conservation although it has been used in many other applications (go to ASWM’s State Wetland Mapping Summaries to see the diverse ways that states are using NWI).

nwi050516Due to budget reductions, the focus of NWI has changed, and instead of developing original maps, NWI is now responsible for: adding wetland maps developed by third parties (states, nonprofits, etc.) to the NWI dataset; and developing national wetlands status and trends reports. These tasks are handled by the National Standards and Support Team located in Madison, Wisconsin where the Wetlands Master Geodatabase is housed.

status050516Due to the change in NWI’s focus from making maps to managing third party data, state wetland programs (and others) who receive federal funding for mapping projects will bear the responsibility of collecting wetland data and performing QA/QC of their data – and many will have a fairly steep learning curve and added expenses to fulfill these new requirements. ASWM, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s NWI, has been and continues to assist state wetland program managers and staff with compliance through knowledge sharing platforms, including training webinars and the Wetlands One-Stop Mapping website.

ASWM has been working with NWI for a few years to get the word out about these changes, but I still run into situations with folks who are not aware of the new procedures and requirements. So here is some important information that you might not know: In order to ensure the consistency and adequacy of mapping data contributed by third parties, the Federal Geospatial Data Committee (FGDC) Wetlands Mapping Standard must be used in all wetland mapping projects that are funded in part or in full through the federal government. The FGDC endorsed the Wetland Mapping Standard in 2009. The purpose of this standard is “to support accurate mapping and classification of wetlands, while ensuring mechanisms for their revisions and update as directed under OMB Circular A-16, Revised.” Non-federally funded wetland mapping projects are encouraged to comply with the standard. (To ensure compliance, refer to the FGDC Wetlands Mapping Standard which can be found here.) In 2015, a new page was added to the Wetlands One-Stop Mapping webpages (hosted on ASWM’s website) with information on the FGDC new wetland mapping standard, updated data collection procedures and federal funding sources for wetland mapping.

nwidiagram050516Also, in order to comply with the FGDC Wetland Mapping Standard, data collection procedures have been updated to include digital mapping conventions related to Cowardin 2.0 (adopted by the FGDC in 2013), instructions on the NWI QA/QC Tool for Arc 10.x, the NWI Map Code Diagram and the NWI Water Regime Restriction Table sorted by sub-class. To download the updated document click here. To facilitate accurate data production and inclusion into the National Wetlands Database, it is recommended that you visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wetlands Inventory Contributed Data page here or contact them at .

wmctraining050516But nothing beats some good training materials, so in 2011, the FWS developed an online Wetland Mapping Training Course to assist data contributors in successfully submitting standards-compliant wetlands geospatial data to NWI. And starting in 2014, NWI began developing a series of training webinars, in partnership with the Wetland Mapping Consortium and ASWM, to assist with the new FGDC requirements. A new page was added to the Wetlands One-Stop Mapping site on Wetland Mapping Training to host the webinar recordings.

So for Peat’s Sake, change can be daunting and uncomfortable, but it is necessary to adapt to our ever changing world. And the world has changed immensely since NWI was established in 1974. With the massive proliferation of mapping programs and platforms, it’s good to know that NWI will continue to ensure that the data collected to identify our national wetland resources is accurate, up to date, and maintained.

This entry was posted in mapping, NWI, state wetland programs, watershed management, Wetland Mapping, wetland program management, wetland remote sensing, wetland science. Bookmark the permalink.

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