United States

Department of

Agriculture

Natural Resources

Conservation

Service

1351A Highway 146 Bypass

Liberty, Texas 77575

PH.  (409) 336-9145 Ext.3

FAX (409) 336-7224

                                                                                                                                                June 2000

 

 

Wetland Regulations Under the USDA Farm Program

 

The 1985 Food Security Act (FSA), as amended, requires that USDA program participants comply with certain wetland conservation regulations.

The USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has the responsibility to make wetland determinations at the request of USDA program participants.

The following are explanations of symbols used by the NRCS.

 

NW- Nonwetland

 

Nonwetland areas do not contain wetlands, and are not subject to any provisions of the FSA.

 

PC- Prior Converted Cropland

 

Areas designated Prior Converted Cropland (PC) were wetlands that were leveled, drained, filled, and/or cleared of trees, and farmed at least once prior to December 23, 1985, (the date the 1985 Food Security Act became law).

 

PC’s are exempt from the provisions of FSA, and may continue to be farmed, leveled, drained or filled, UNLESS THEY BECOME “ABANDONED.”  “ABANDONED” means the area is no longer in a farmable condition.

 

If a PC is abandoned, it could revert to a Wetland (W) or a Farmed Wetland Pasture (FWP).  Wetlands and Farmed Wetland Pastures have restrictions on drainage and land use that PCs do not have.

 

W- Wetland

 

Wetlands (W) are areas that have hydric soils, hydrophytic vegetation, and wetland hydrology.  Persons who convert a wetland will be ineligible for USDA program benefits.  Activities that may cause a wetland conversion include clearing trees, draining, filling or leveling.

 

Wetlands may be used to produce agricultural commodities under “natural condition,” that is without removing woody vegetation or doing any leveling, filling, or draining.

FW- Farmed Wetland

 

Areas designated Farmed Wetlands (FW) were manipulated and used to produce an agricultural commodity before 12/23/85, but still meet wetland criteria.  Farmed Wetlands may be farmed as they were prior to 1985.

 

Drainage systems on FWs may be maintained back to the original scope and effect of the system that existed on 12/23/85.  Prior to maintaining drainage systems, the producer should complete Form AD-1026 at the Farm Service Agency office to indicate the planned maintenance.  The NRCS will then review the proposed maintenance and advise the producer if the maintenance is in compliance with FSA rules.

 

FWs are also subject to abandonment (as previously explained under PCs.)

 

FWP- Farmed Wetland Pasture

 

Areas designated Farmed Wetland Pastures (FWP) were maintained and used to produce hay or pasture before 12/23/85. Areas that had trees removed between 12/23/85 and 11/28/90 that were not planted to an agricultural commodity but were used for pasture may also qualify for FWP.

 

AW-Artificial Wetland

 

Artificial wetlands (AW) are nonwetland areas that exhibit wetland characteristics because of human activities.  AWs are not subject to the provisions of FSA.

 

MW-Minimal Effect

 

A Minimal Effect (MW) exemption may be granted prior to converting a wetland, if the proposed effect on the wetland is deemed minimal.  Prior to beginning a conversion activity, producers should fill out Form AD-1026 at the FSA office.

 

CW + Year – Converted Wetland plus Year

 

After 11/28/90, when a violation takes place on a wetland, the area is labeled CW plus the year in which the conversion takes place.

 

Producers associated with a CW+year become ineligible for USDA program benefits, until the CW is restored.

 

WX (Wetland Manipulated, but Not Converted)

 

Areas labeled WX are wetlands that have been manipulated after 12/23/85, but the manipulation did not make production of an agricultural commodity possible.

 

CWNA- Converted Wetland For Non-Ag Use

 

These are wetland areas which have received prior approval by NRCS to be converted to a non-agricultural use, such as a road, building, oilfield location, pond, harvesting trees, etc.

 

Before beginning a conversion activity, producers should fill out Form AD-1026 at the FSA office.

 

“Not Inventoried” or “No Determination Made”

 

Areas designated “Not Inventoried” or “No Determination Made” are areas on which no wetland determinations were made.  Before any activity is carried out in these areas, such as removing trees, draining, leveling or filling, Form AD- 1026 should be filled out at the FSA office to initiate a wetland determination.

 

There are other Federal and State agencies that may also have jurisdiction on lands with some of the designations described above.

 

One Federal law governing wetlands, Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), is administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers (CE).  The CE may have jurisdiction on areas designated AW, W, FW, FWP, MW, WX, CWNA, and “No Determination Made.”

 

The CE does not normally claim jurisdiction on areas determined to be PC that are not abandoned, can be drained, filled, leveled, and even taken out of farm production and put into urban development, without obtaining a Section 404 permit.

 

Questions pertaining to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act should be directed to the Galveston office of the US Army CE at (409) 766-3930

 

 

 

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status.  (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.)  Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD)

 

To file complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326W, Whitten Building, 14th  and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD.)  USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

 

File:word/factsheetwetregs.doc