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LRH 2017-HGM

Published Sept. 8, 2017
Expiration date: 10/6/2017





JOINT PUBLIC NOTICE: This joint Public Notice is distributed on behalf of the Huntington and Pittsburgh Corps Districts.


NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN:  The purpose of this Public Notice is to provide applicants, consultants, industry and the general public with the information and associated forms for theOperational Draft Regional Guidebook for the Functional Assessment of High-Gradient Headwater Streams and Low-Gradient Perennial Stream in Appalachia [ERDC/EL TR-17-1]” (Regional Guidebook) which was developed by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in cooperation with the Corps Huntington District Regulatory Division. This is an advisory Public Notice for all applicants, consultants, industry, and the general public within the state of West Virginia. The implementation of this Regional Guidebook may be expanded to adjacent states and Corps Districts in the future, as applicable. 


This Regional Guidebook replaces the “Operational Draft Regional Guidebook for the Functional Assessment of High-gradient Ephemeral and Intermittent Headwater Streams in Western West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky” (Headwater Guidebook).  The Headwater Guidebook reference domain used for assessment development includes Major Land Resource Areas (MLRA) 125 – Cumberland Plateau and Mountains, 126 – Central Allegheny Plateau, and 127 – Eastern Allegheny Plateau and Mountains (Figure 1) (NRCS 2006).  The Regional Guidebook includes an expanded reference domain which now also includes MLRA 124 – Western Allegheny Plateau, 128 – Southern Appalachian Ridges and Valleys, 130A – Northern Blue Ridge, 130B – Southern Blue Ridge, and 147 – Northern Appalachian Ridges and Valleys. See Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Map of the reference domain for headwater and perennial streams in the Appalachian Region.

APPLICATION:  The HGM Approach is a method for developing functional indices and the protocols used to apply these indices to the assessment of ecosystem functions at a site-specific scale.  The HGM Approach was initially designed to be used in the context of the Clean Water Act Section 404 Regulatory Program permit review to analyze project alternatives, minimize impacts, assess unavoidable impacts, determine mitigation requirements, and monitor the success of compensatory mitigation. 




Final Rule – HGM and Suitable Metric [Background]

The New Rule on Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources, effective June 9, 2008, encourages the use of “an appropriate assessment method (e.g., hydrogeomorphic approach to wetlands functional assessment, index of biological integrity) or other suitable metric must be used to assess and describe the aquatic resource types that will be restored, established, enhanced and/or preserved by the mitigation bank or in-lieu fee project. The principal units for credits and debits are acres, linear feet, functional assessment units, or other suitable metrics of particular resource types. Functional assessment units or other suitable metrics may be linked to acres or linear feet.”


Previously, a team of interagency and academic experts familiar with high-gradient headwater streams (with >4% channel slope) in the Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia assisted the ERDC in the development and review of the “Operational Draft Regional Guidebook for the Functional Assessment of High-gradient Ephemeral and Intermittent Headwater Streams in Western West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky [ERDC/ELTR-10-11]”. The previous Headwater Guidebook provided guidance for the assessment of high-gradient headwater streams for MLRAs 125, 126, and 127 within the Appalachian Region and was completed in July 2010. A Public Workshop was conducted by the Corps in Charleston, West Virginia on November 3-4, 2010 to demonstrate the use and implementation of the Regional Guidebook and the HGM Approach.


Following the initial assessment development and calibration, additional applicability and potential uses of the HGM Approach were identified. Using data from reference streams in eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia, headwater and perennial stream assessments were successfully applied to low-gradient perennial streams and expanded the reference domain to MLRAs 124,128,130A,130B and 147 within the Appalachian Region. The perennial stream subclass spans the continuum ranging from streams with less than four percent, located immediately down-gradient of headwater streams, to low-gradient streams that are shallow enough to remain wadeable and narrow enough to have the potential for full canopy closure from surrounding trees and other vegetation. A Public Workshop was conducted by the Corps in Charleston, West Virginia on September 1-3, 2015 to demonstrate the use and expansion of the HGM for low-gradient perennial streams.


A concurrent effort, composed of local and regional experts from state and federal agencies and academia, to validate technical aspects of independent field measurements and model functions has been completed for the HGM Approach.


Electronic copies of the Regional Guidebook, the Functional Capacity Index (FCI) calculator for each HGM Approach (High-Gradient Headwater Streams and Low-Gradient Perennial Streams) and the most recent version of the Stream and Wetland Valuation Metric (SWVM), Version 2.1, which incorporates the HGM, are all available on the following webpage: http://www.lrh.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Stream-Assessment/

 If you have any questions concerning this workshop, please contact Mr. Justin Elkins at (304) 399-5271 or justin.m.elkins@usace.army.mil.