The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District Regulatory Branch brought together 16 partners from different federal government agencies around the country to earn their certification in Northcoast Northeast Wetland Delineation through a four-day classroom and field training course, May 1-4, 2023.
The Buffalo District’s Regulatory Branch is spread out in field offices across the entirety of the district’s 38,000 square miles along the shores of the Great Lakes of Superior, Erie, and Ontario. Instructors Doug Kapusinski, Tina Stonemetz and Shawn Blohm from the Stow Regulatory Field office had a short drive as their field office is near Akron, Ohio. Joining them for a short portion of the training was Brian Swartz from the Oak Harbor Regulatory office near Toledo, Ohio.
This delineation training took place throughout the Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s (CVNP) vast area which lies a short distance between the cities of Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, Summit County Metroparks, and the Geauga County District. The classroom portion, and temporary training room, took place in the CVNP’s Boston Store location in Peninsula, Ohio. During the classroom training, attendees included USACE Regulators from the Pittsburgh District, Buffalo District, staff from Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 5 and 9.
While in the comforts of the classroom attendees learned about hydric soil indicators, how to fill out a wetland data form, review a wetland delineation report, and watched a demonstration on how to perform complex wetland delineations.
True to the unpredictive spring weather of northeast Ohio, there were days and moments of cold, rain and sleet however it did not slow down the progress of the training or the attendees during the field portion of the training. During these outdoor sessions students navigated heavily treed areas and vegetation as they utilized typical field operation tools to dig soil pits to identify hydric soil indicators, measured out vegetation sampling plots to identify wetland hydric soil indicators, and identified wetland hydrology indicators.
After completing the classroom and field sessions attendees were required to take a test and ultimately received a certificate when they passed.
"I had a great time and learned a lot,” remarked Samantha Knapp, Biologist working out of the Oak Harbor, Ohio field office near Toledo, Ohio. Doug, Tina, and Shawn are super knowledgeable, and it shows in their teaching. It's clear that each of them has a ton of field experience and insight to share from years of working in regulatory. The class exercises and field visits were super engaging, and it was great getting to work with folks from other agencies the whole week! Being able to correctly identify wetland is a crucial skill for any PM working in regulatory and I feel the class more than adequately prepared everyone to head into the field and do just that."
Although the wetland delineation training is a requirement for some as a part of their current positions, many found it beneficial for their future endeavors and professional growth. “Wetland delineation is such a marketable skill in Biology, and I’ve always wanted to learn it,” said Hannah Stuhlmiller, Biologist from the USACE Buffalo District. “I took a wetland class in school, but the delineation portion was cancelled due to COVID. Now that I finally have these skills, I know I’ll be using them for the rest of my career and I’m excited to get out into the field and get started!”