US Army Corps of Engineers
Savannah District

Identifying the presence of wetlands

Soil Sample

Col. Daniel Hibner, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District commander, uses an auger to obtain a soil sample in order to determine the presence/absence of hydric soil.

Soil Determination

Shaun Blocker, Savannah District Multipurpose Management Branch chief, assists Col. Daniel Hibner, Savannah District commander, with determining if a soil sample is hydric soil based on the colors.

Checking the colorbook

Col. Daniel Hibner, Savannah District commander, compares the soil to a Munsell Soil Colorbook to categorize the soil and determine if it is a hydric soil.

The Mission of the USACE Savannah District Regulatory Division is to protect the nation’s aquatic resources while also allowing for reasonable development through fair permit decision. The Savannah District does this for all 159 counties in the state of Georgia.

In order to do this job the Savannah District’s 33 regulators must first be able to identify the presence of any aquatic resources and their limits within a given site.

Anytime anyone wants to build or perform any fill activity that impacts waters or wetlands, they very likely need a permit from us because the Corps has jurisdiction over most waterways, wetlands, and some other types of aquatic resources,” said Russell Wicke, Savannah District Corporate Communications Officer.

“But since waterways and wetlands are very fluid resources and often shift over time, we often must determine whether or not an area may be subject to our jurisdiction before any construction activity can begin,” Wicke added.

One of the parameters Corps regulators check to determine the presence of wetlands on a site is the soil. They do this by analyzing core samples of soil in a specific area.

“When we go out, we’re looking to determine the presence of hydric soils, hydrophytic vegetation and hydrology indicators that help us identify the presence of wetlands and the wetland boundaries within a project site,” said Shaun Blocker, Savannah District Multipurpose Management Branch chief.

For projects or any construction activities that discharge dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, a permit is required from the Corps under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

 General questions regarding possible wetlands or other aquatic resources can be answered by calling  800-448-2402 or by checking the Savannah District Regulatory Contacts webpage for a specific contact based on the county where a site is located.