Minding Our Keys and Queues (or Cues)
Retta Whinnery

Swampy Regulations (Part 2) ? “Gucci” Method Steps In
Elsa Kapitan-White

Calling Collectives
Wally Hansen

Minding our keys and queues (or cues)

As editors, we pay close attention to those pesky p’s and q’s, but we sometimes encounter queues of pesky terms. Languages, like geological formations, change over time as a result of outside forces exerting pressure. The four words listed below may all be pronounced identically, and they have closely related meanings and etymologies, but they came into English at different times by varied routes.

Cue your readers, so they won’t confuse these with quey (pronounced kway)—a heifer, or young cow, before it has had a calf. And, of course, don’t muddle them with the keys—legends—we use on maps.

—Retta Whinnery

Swampy Regulations (Part 2)? “Gucci” Method Steps In

Answering Retta Whinnery’s question about wetlands terms and definitions (Blueline, Spring 1996) first requires a little background on the Clean Water Act Section 404 permit program. The Section 404 program regulates the discharge of dredged or fill material in “waters of the United States,” which includes wetlands. The regulatory definition for “wetlands” used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to administer the Section 404 program is those “areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soils conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas.” (40 CFR 230.3 and 333 CFR 328.2)

The Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual (published in 1987, but still the official guide despite subsequently proposed revisions) organizes field indicators for wetlands delineation into three categories— vegetation, saturated soils, and hydrology—with evidence thresholds for each category. An area that meets all three criteria is considered a wetland subject to Section 404 permitting.

Wetland vegetation is collectively referred to as hydrophytic vegetation. “Hydrophytes” (water loving) are defined in the 1987 Manual as plant life growing in water, in soil, or on a substrate that is at least periodically deficient in oxygen as a result of excessive water content. The wetlands vegetation criteria are further based on the plant species composition and proportions.

Wetland “hydric” soils are defined in the 1987 Manual as soils that are saturated, flooded, or ponded long enough during the growing season to develop anaerobic conditions in the upper part (generally taken as flooded or saturated usually one week or more during the time when soil temperatures are above biologic zero [41F]). Soil surveys published by the USDA Soil Conservation Service usually map and describe hydric soils.

Wetland “hydrology” is defined as occurring when an area is saturated to the surface or inundated for some time during the average rainfall year. This temporary or seasonal abundance of water may last only for a few days.

The term “hygroscopic” is not used in the Section 404 regulations or 1987 Manual.

However, I prefer the new, simplified “Gucci” method for wetlands determination. Take your developer out to the potential wetlands site. Park the car, and start walking across the site. Where the developer stops walking to keep his or her shoes dry is where the wetlands begin!

—Elsa Kapitan-White

Calling Collectives

Wallace R. Hansen contributed the following in response to Retta Whinnery’s fervent plea (Blueline, Spring 1996).

Here is his partial listing of collectives apropos to the earth sciences. Some of these appeared earlier in an old copy of Cross Section, but that USGS newsletter was not publicly available.

Have I slighted anyone?

—Wally Hansen

RETURN to non-frame version of Blueline.