3 September 2001



[Federal Register: July 27, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 145)]
[Page 39189-39191]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



Geological Survey

Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC); Public Comment on the 
Proposal to Develop a ``Riparian Mapping Standard.''

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.


SUMMARY: The FGDC is soliciting public comments on the proposal to 
develop a ``Riparian Mapping Standard.'' If the proposal is approved, 
the standard will be developed following the FGDC standards development 
and approval process and will be considered for adoption by the FGDC.
    In its assigned federal leadership role in the development of the 
National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), the Committee recognizes 
that FGDC standards must also meet the needs and recognize the views of 
State and local governments, academia, industry, and the public. The 
purpose of this notice is to solicit such views. The FGDC invites the 
community to review the proposal and comment on the objectives, scope, 
approach, and usability of the standard; identify existing related 
standards; and indicate their interest in participating in the 
development of the standard.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before August 24, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted via Internet or by postal mail. 
Reviewers may send comments via Internet to: If submitting comments by postal mail, 
please send a soft copy version on 3.5-inch diskette in Microsoft Word 
or Rich Text Format (preferred) format and one copy of a hardcopy 
version to the FGDC Secretariat (attn: Julie Binder Maitra) at U.S. 
Geological Survey, 590 National Center, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, 
Reston, Virginia 20192.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Following is the proposal for the ``Riparian 
Mapping Standard'':
    Project Title: Adoption of a Riparian Mapping Standard for areas of 
the United States where mean annual evaporation exceeds mean annual 
    Date of Proposal: November 14, 2000.
    Type of Standard: This proposed standard is classified as a Data 
Classification Standard (definition and hierarchical nomenclature) and 
the accompanying Data Symbology or Presentation Standard (cartographic 
conventions) according to the FGDC Standards Reference Model.
    Submitting Organization: Subcommittee for Wetlands, Federal 
Geographic Data Committee
    Point of Contact: Bill O. Wilen, Chair, National Wetlands 
Inventory, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 
400, Arlington, VA 22203, E-mail:, Phone: 703-358-
2161, Fax: 703-358-1869.
    Objectives: (1) To develop a unified Riparian Mapping Standard to 
define riparian, delineate its application, and to describe and define 
cartographic conventions for use in riparian mapping for the National 
Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).
    (2) To minimize redundancy in effort in developing riparian mapping 
standards, ensure consistency in application of standards, facilitate 
data sharing and integrate riparian spatial data with data developed 
under the FGDC Wetlands Standard.
    Scope: What is Riparian? (taken from ``A System for Mapping 
Riparian Areas in the Western United States,'' U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, December 1997)
    ``There are many riparian definitions used by government agencies 
and the private sector. Riparian initiatives ofen concentrate on either 
functionality or land use application where an exact definition is not 
required. However, a riparian definition is essential for consistent 
and uniform identification and mapping. For these purposes, in the area 
of applicability:''
    `Riparian areas are plant communities contiguous to and affected by 
surface and subsurface hydrologic features of perennial or intermittent 
lotic and lentic water bodies (rivers, streams, lakes, or drainage 
ways). Riparian areas have one or both of the following 
characteristics: (1) Distinctively different vegetative species than 
adjacent areas, and (2) species similar to adjacent areas but 
exhibiting more vigorous or robust growth forms. Riparian areas are 
usually transitional between wetland and upland.' ''
    This proposed national standard would standardize and ensure 
consistency of the geospatial mapping of riparian areas in the United 
States where evaporation exceeds precipitation. The U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service has adopted this standard, developed with Federal and 
State agency participation, as an Agency

[[Page 39190]]

Riparian Standard. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently 
completed testing of this mapping standard to assess its completeness 
and utility by Federal client agencies (sample maps are provided with 
this proposal). Member agencies in the Federal Geographic Data 
Committee's (FGDC) Subcommittee for Wetlands have reviewed the Agency 
Riparian Standard and have agreed to propose it as an FGDC Standard.
    This standards development process under the FGDC would expand the 
review of the Agency standard, make any needed changes identified 
during the process, and propose the riparian mapping standards for 
adoption under the Federal Geographic Data Committee Standards. Once 
adopted, the Riparian Standard would be made available both through the 
Service's and the FGDC websites. Once a riparian standard is adopted, 
the digitized wetland-riparian maps will be made a part of the National 
Spatial Data Infrastructure.
    Justification/Benefits: Riparian areas are among the most important 
vegetative communities for wildlife species. Chaney, et al. (1990) 
observed that greater than 75 percent of terrestrial wildlife species 
in the Great Basin region of eastern Oregon, as well as in southeastern 
Wyoming, are dependent on riparian areas. In Arizona and New Mexico, 80 
percent of all vertebrates use riparian areas for at least half their 
life cycles; more than half of these are totally dependent on riparian 
areas. Similarly, the Arizona Riparian Council found that 60-75 percent 
of Arizona's resident wildlife species depend on riparian areas to 
sustain their populations, yet these areas occupy less than 0.5 percent 
of the state's land area. Aquatic and fish productivity are directly 
related to a properly functioning and healthy riparian habitat 
(Washington Dept. Fish and Wildlife 1995). Mapping of riparian areas is 
an important tool for managing wildlife habitat in the United States.
    The Fish and Wildlife Service, through the National Wetlands 
Inventory, is Congressionally mandated to identify, classify, and 
digitize all wetlands and deepwater habitats in the United States. The 
Service is also authorized to map habitats used by fish and wildlife 
resources under the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956. The Fish and 
Wildlife Service chairs the FGDC Wetlands Subcommittee. As such, the 
Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for coordinating the 
development, use, sharing and dissemination of wetlands data. The Fish 
and Wildlife Service's Agency Wetlands Standards were adopted as FGDC 
Wetlands Standards in December 1996. The Wetlands Standard (Cowardin et 
al. 1979) is the basis for all wetlands maps prepared by the Fish and 
Wildlife Service's National Wetlands Inventory. The National Wetlands 
Inventory has extensive mapping expertise and knowledge involving 
wetland identification and classification, photo interpretation, and 
digital data capabilities. Periodically the Fish and Wildlife Service 
has added upland habitat at the request of funding agencies. Reflecting 
this expertise, the National Wetlands Inventory is asked to provide 
resource mapping guidance, and with increasing frequency, is requested 
to map riparian areas of the western United States. To meet the 
increasing riparian mapping requests, the Fish and Wildlife Service, 
with assistance and review by other Federal and State agencies, 
developed an Agency riparian mapping standard in December 1997 entitled 
``A System for Mapping Riparian Areas in the Western United States.''
    Riparian mapping standards were necessary to ensure consistency in 
riparian mapping efforts in various regions and for the various Federal 
agencies that were funding these efforts. Riparian standards consistent 
with the FGDC Wetlands Standard were needed for combined wetland-
riparian mapping. Compatibility with the FGDC Wetlands Standard is also 
very important because the Fish and Wildlife Service has completed 
draft or final wetland maps for over 90 percent of the conterminous 
United States using this standard. Because the Agency Riparian Standard 
was developed using the same hierarchical and cartographic system as 
the FGDC Wetlands Standard, they can be used in concert. The Fish and 
Wildlife Service has begun mapping riparian areas for land management 
agencies using the Agency Riparian Standard in conjunction with wetland 
mapping using the Wetlands Standards. During the three years the 
Service has used Riparian Standards, it has produced 41 wetland-
riparian maps at the scale of 1:24,000 that are available for review 
and discussion.
    A few riparian mapping projects have been completed by non-Federal 
organizations that did not use the hierarchical Wetland Standard as a 
model. These projects do not complement the Wetlands Standard and 
cannot be used for comparison across projects and for data sharing. 
They are also in variance with the Fish and Wildlife Service's Agency 
Standard. To avoid this incompatibility continuing, it is important to 
develop and adopt a Federal standard that can be reviewed, commented 
on, and adopted by outside organizations on a voluntary basis to assure 
uniformity of data development. Riparian data developed using FGDC 
Standards can be added to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure. 
Riparian data developed using other standards would not be added to the 
wetlands layer of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure and not 
available to agencies that need to use the data. Having an FGDC 
Riparian Standard would remove this impediment to data sharing. It is 
also expected this riparian mapping standard will foster new and 
enhanced coordination among Federal and States agencies, standardize 
data, and advance data sharing.
    Potential Participants: Because of its legislative mandates and 
authorities, the Fish and Wildlife Service will lead this effort to 
develop an FGDC Riparian Standard through its Chair of the Wetland 
Subcommittee of the FGDC. Every Federal agency with interest in 
wetlands and riparian mapping is represented on this Subcommittee. The 
Wetlands Subcommittee agencies involved with the development of the 
Riparian Standard as an FGDC Standard will be:

Principal Agencies for Standards Development Group

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DOI (Chair)
U.S. Bureau of Land Management, DOI
National Park Service, DOI
U.S. Forest Service, USDA
Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA
National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
U.S. Geological Survey

Other Reviewing Agencies in the Wetlands Subcommittee

Bureau of Reclamation, DOI
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Department of Energy
Biological Resources Division, USGS
Office of Surface Mining, DOI
Department of the Interior
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
U.S. Marine Corp
U.S. Navy
National Air and Space Administration
Tennessee Valley Authority
U.S. Air Force
Department of Housing and Urban Development

    There was wide participation in the development of the Fish and 
Wildlife Service's Agency Riparian Standard. The principal authors of 
the Riparian Standard are David Dall, Chuck Elliott, and Dennis Peters; 
NWI Regional Wetland Coordinators in the Western

[[Page 39191]]

United States. Several early drafts were reviewed by National Wetlands 
Inventory staff of all the Fish and Wildlife Service's 7 Regions. 
Subsequent review was provided by Field Offices of the Division of 
Ecological Services and Refuges. Valuable review and criticism of the 
draft was provided by the following outside agencies and organizations 
as the draft approached the final version: Arizona Game and Fish 
Department, California Department of Fish and Game, Iowa Department of 
Natural Resources, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Louisiana 
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Nebraska Game and Parks 
Commission, Nevada Division of Wildlife, Texas Parks and Wildlife 
Department, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Wyoming Game and Fish 
Department, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Land 
Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. National Park Service, U.S. 
Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Office of Surface Mining, 
University of Montana (School of Forest Resources), Wyoming Natural 
Diversity Database, and Donn Kesselheim.
    The Fish and Wildlife Service's Agency Riparian Standard has been 
available and distributed in printed format for three years. It has 
also been available on the Internet at the National Wetlands Inventory 
website at for three years. In Step 8, 
Coordinate Public Review, in order to ensure a systematic review of the 
draft FGDC standards and the resultant maps, we envision one or more 
regional meetings, in the area of applicability. States, conservation 
groups, academia, and industry would be invited. Suggestions for 
modifications would be reviewed by the Standards Development Group and 
recommendations made to the Wetlands Subcommittee as a whole. The 
Subcommittee would be the approving body for the draft standard and for 
subsequent changes that are identified after implementation.
    The draft standard will include maintenance and update procedures. 
The Subcommittee will use a consensual method of decision making for 
all changes suggested. Consensus is defined in Circular A-119 as 
general agreement, but not necessarily unanimity, and includes a 
process for attempting to resolve objections by interested parties, as 
long as all comments have been fairly considered, each objector is 
advised of the disposition of his or her objection(s) and the reasons 
why, and the consensus body members are given an opportunity to change 
their votes after reviewing the comments. Riparian mapping is a dynamic 
enterprise; changes and refinement are expected throughout the life of 
the Standard.
    Related Standards: The proposed FGDC Riparian Standard was 
developed in the hierarchical framework of the existing FGDC Wetlands 
Standard (Cowardin et al.), using standard wetland mapping conventions. 
The developers of the proposed Riparian Standard are experts in wetland 
mapping using the FGDC Wetlands Standard. The proposed standard is 
fully integrated with and does not overlap with the FGDC Wetlands 
Standard and has been used to produce a few composite wetland-riparian 
maps. Once a standard is in place, the data generated using that 
standard will be added to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure and 
will be available over the Internet.
    A Vegetation Classification Standard was recently adopted by the 
FGDC. That standard was established to ``enable Federal agencies to 
collect vegetation information in a standard format and apply a 
standard classification system to vegetation in reports and on maps. 
This uniform National Vegetation Classification Standard (NVCS) should 
complement regional or local classifications that are designed to meet 
more specific objectives.'' Although the FGDC vegetation standard 
contains associations of vegetative communities that would fit the 
riparian definition, in reality, those communities can be both riparian 
and upland. This makes them incompatible with the need by land managing 
agencies to map riparian areas.
    There are no other Federal riparian mapping standards available nor 
are there any similar Federal riparian mapping standards being 
developed. There are neither any ``voluntary consensus standards,'' nor 
any ``non-consensus standards,'' ``Industry standards,'' ``Company 
standards,'' nor ``de facto standards,'' to adopt for mapping riparian 
areas as defined in OMB Revised Circular No. A-119, dated February 10, 
1998. If available, they would be used even though A-119 does not apply 
to this action because the proposed riparian standards are not for 
procurement or regulatory activities.
    The Fish and Wildlife Service's Agency Riparian Standard was 
developed by Federal employees, does not contain any proprietary 
information, is not copyrighted, and has no licensing limitations.
    The proposed FGDC Riparian Standards stands independent of any 
specific technology application. It does not limit any appropriate 
vendor from access.
    Resources Required: FGDC Wetland Subcommittee members will provide 
the resources to prepare the working draft. Funding may be sought from 
the FGDC for travel by participants from States and other concerned 
organizations for the one or more regional meetings being considered.
    Target Authorization Body: The FGDC Steering Committee is the 
target authorization body for this standard.

Karen C. Siderelis,
Geographic Information Officer.
[FR Doc. 01-18749 Filed 7-26-01; 8:45 am]