This document presents approaches and methods for identifying and delineating wetlands for
purposes of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. It is designed to assist users in making
wetland determinations using a multiparameter approach. Except where noted in the manual,
this approach requires positive evidence of hydrophytic vegetation, hydric soils, and wetland
hydrology for a determination that an area is a wetland. The multiparameter approach provides
a logical, easily defensible, and technical basis for wetland determinations. Technical
guidelines are presented for wetlands, deepwater aquatic habitats, and nonwetlands (uplands).
Hydrophytic vegetation, hydric soils, and wetland hydrology are also characterized, and
wetland indicators of each parameter are listed.
Methods for applying the multiparameter approach are described. Separate sections are
devoted to preliminary data gathering and analysis, method selection, routine determinations,
comprehensive determinations, atypical situations, and problem areas. Three levels of routine
determinations are described, thereby affording significant flexibility in method selection.
Four appendices provide supporting information. Appendix A is a glossary of technical terms
used in the manual. Appendix B contains data forms for use with the various methods.
Appendix C, developed by a Federal interagency panel, contains a list of all plant species
known to occur in wetlands of the-region. Each species has been assigned an indicator status
that describes its estimated probability of occurring in wetlands. A second list contains plant
species that commonly occur in wetlands of the region. Morphological, physiological, and
reproductive adaptations that enable a plant species to occur in wetlands are also described,
along with a listing of some species having such adaptations. Appendix D describes the
procedure for examining the soil for indicators of hydric soil conditions, and includes a
national list of hydric soils developed by the National Technical Committee for Hydric Soils.
This manual is a product of the Wetlands Research Program (WRP) of the US Army Engineer
Waterways Experiment Station (WES), Vicksburg, Miss. The work was sponsored by the
Office, Chief of Engineers (OCE), US Army. OCE Technical Monitors for the WRP were Drs.
John R. Hall and Robert J. Pierce, and Mr. Phillip C. Pierce.
The manual has been reviewed and concurred in by the Office of the Chief of Engineers and
the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) as a method approved for
voluntary use in the field for a trial period of 1 year.
This manual is not intended to change appreciably the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act
(CWA) as it is currently implemented. Should any District find that use of this method
appreciably contracts or expands jurisdiction in their District as the District currently interprets
CWA authority, the District should immediately discontinue use of this method and furnish a
full report of the circumstances to the Office of the Chief of Engineers.
This manual describes technical guidelines and methods using a multiparameter approach to
identify and delineate wetlands for purposes of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Appendices of supporting technical information are also provided.
The manual is presented in four parts. Part II was prepared by Dr. Robert T. Huffman,
formerly of the Environmental Laboratory (EL), WES, and Dr. Dana R. Sanders, Sr., of the
Wetland and Terrestrial Habitat Group (WTHG), Environmental Resources Division (ERD),
EL. Dr. Huffman prepared the original version of Part II in 1980, entitled “Multiple Parameter
Approach to the Field Identification and Delineation of Wetlands.” The original version was
distributed to all Corps field elements, as well as other Federal resource and environmental
regulatory agencies, for review and comments. Dr. Sanders revised the original version in
1982, incorporating review comments. Parts I, III, and IV were prepared by Dr. Sanders, Mr.
William B. Parker (formerly detailed to WES by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA),
Soil Conservation Service (SCS)) and Mr. Stephen W. Forsythe (formerly detailed to WES by
the US Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)). Dr. Sanders also served
as overall technical editor of the manual. The manual was edited by Ms. Jamie W. Leach of the
WES Information Products Division.
The authors acknowledge technical assistance provided by: Mr. Russell F. Theriot, Mr. Ellis J.
Clairain, Jr., and Mr. Charles J. Newling, all of WTHG, ERD; Mr. Phillip Jones, former SCS
detail to WES; Mr. Porter B. Reed, FWS, National Wetland Inventory, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Dr.
Dan K. Evans, Marshall University, Huntington, W. Va.; and the USDA-SCS. The authors also
express gratitude to Corps personnel who assisted in developing the regional lists of species
that commonly occur in wetlands, including Mr. Richard Macomber, Bureau of Rivers and
Harbors; Ms. Kathy Mulder, Kansas City District; Mr. Michael Gilbert, Omaha District; Ms.
Vicki Goodnight, Southwestern Division; Dr. Fred Weinmann, Seattle District; and Mr.
Michael Lee, Pacific Ocean Division. Special thanks are offered to the CE personnel who
reviewed and commented on the draft manual, and to those who participated in a workshop
that consolidated the field comments.
The work was monitored at WES under the direct supervision of Dr. Hanley K. Smith, Chief,
WTHG, and under the general supervision of Dr. Conrad J. Kirby, Jr., Chief, ERD. Dr. Smith,
Dr. Sanders, and Mr. Theriot were Managers of the WRP. Dr. John Harrison was Chief, EL.
Director of WES during the preparation of this report was COL Allen F. Grum, USA. During
publication, COL Dwayne G. Lee, CE, was Commander and Director. Technical Director was
Dr. Robert W. Whalin.
This report should be cited as follows:
Environmental Laboratory. 1987. “Corps of Engineers Wetlands
Delineation Manual,” Technical Report Y-87-l, US Army Engineer
Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, Miss.