US Army Corps of Engineers
Buffalo District

USACE Buffalo District Biologist Selected to Assist Research Lab

Published May 12, 2016
Robert Lichvar, Director of the National Wetland Plant List, treats Buffalo District Regulatory Biologists to plant ID training.

Robert Lichvar, Director of the National Wetland Plant List, treats Buffalo District Regulatory Biologists to plant ID training.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District Biologist Melissa Tarasiewicz has been selected to assist with the development and management of the National Wetland Plant List (NWPL) at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), Hanover NH.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District Biologist Melissa Tarasiewicz has been selected to assist with the development and management of the National Wetland Plant List (NWPL) at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), Hanover NH.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District Biologist Melissa Tarasiewicz has been selected to assist with the development and management of the National Wetland Plant List (NWPL) at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), Hanover NH.

The National Wetland Plant List is a federal species list that is used in a three factor approach with hydric soils, wetland vegetation, and evidence of hydrology to make wetland determinations for the purposes of the Clean Water Act Section 404 Regulatory program.

Management of the list, which includes updating the scientific names, performing annual reviews, and updating wetland indicator status, is an interagency effort between the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Mr. Robert Lichvar, a research botanist, is the Director of the National Plant List and Chairman of the Interagency Wetland Plant List panel. He is a renowned botanist with over 30 years of experience in mapping vegetation in wetlands in the northeast and throughout the U.S., including Alaska. In his capacity as Director of the NWPL, Lichvar has authored a veritable library of technical notes and technical reports and has conducted research studies in every geographic region of the U.S.

Lichvar began his expansive Corps of Engineers career with the Buffalo District Regulatory Branch and has retained his ties with the Buffalo District through a collaborative relationship with Harold Keppner, chief of the monitoring and enforcement section, and by conducting advanced plant identification courses directed at improving the plant identification skills of the Regulatory staff.

“Not only were these plant identification courses beneficial for Regulatory staff, but they also gave Bob a forum to field test a number of taxonomic keys he was developing,” said Keppner.

Over the years, there have been several occasions in which staff from CRREL have come to the Western New York Region to field test or research numerous topics. Most recently, in 2015, a group of CRREL researchers visited WNY to field test remote sensing technology. The Buffalo District has been able to assist with these projects and has provided insights on field sites that would be most productive for the questions being addressed.

This working relationship between CRREL and LRB was further cultivated four years ago. In seeking developmental opportunities for LRB staff, Keppner coordinated with Lichvar in seeking temporary detail positions at CRREL.

“Again, this symbiotic relationship has benefitted LRB staff and exposed them to a wide array of research topics specific to the Regulatory Program, and CRREL has benefitted from the presence of highly qualified biologists to support the on-going research,” said Keppner.

The identification, development, and cultivation of collaborative working relationships between Corps of Engineers Districts and Research Laboratories are essential in furthering the science that informs the Regulatory Program.