NHESP Guidelines NHESP
(pdf download)


Procedure for certification Certification

Certification with obligate species Obligate
species method

Certification with facultative species Facultative
species method

Maps needed for certification Maps
Form needed for certification Observation

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

Maps required for Massachusetts
vernal pool certification

Certification procedures require that you locate the vernal pool on a U.S.G.S. topographic quadrangle map, an aerial photograph, and one additional map or GPS coordinates. The additional map could be one you make yourself with compass bearings and distances, a professional survey of the site, a townwide topographic map, state highway plans, park map, et cetera. These map types are explained below.

It is important to keep in mind the purpose of the maps. They are not intended as an impediment to certification but as a means for others to find the vernal pool at a later time. Provide as much information as you can to help others to identify your pool. You might consider providing characteristics of the pool and surroundings which distinguish it from other wetlands nearby. Mention the presence of large rocks, cliffs, tree types, pool vegetation, views in the distance, debris in the pool, and so forth. Pinpointing a pool when other pools might be nearby is very important.

You need to provide:

sample USGS topo mapUSGS topographic map. All certification packets must contain a copy of a section of the appropriate USGS topographic map with the location of the pool marked. Locate your pool on the map while in the field so that you can reference your actual location with the various features shown on the map. Take the time to check the immediate area to see if there are other potential vernal pools which might be confused with the one you are maping. Label your copy of the map with the map name as shown on the cover page. If you are using a GPS unit, make note of the longitude/latitude readings. There is a space for this optional information on the certification form.

sample aerial photographyAerial photography. Aerial photographs are an easy way to get information for finding a vernal pool and for locating it so that others can find it. Your second map can be an aerial photograph, color or black/white, with the pool clearly marked. Label the photograph with all information about its source, the series. You might also mark landmarks such as roads on the photograph. Aerial photographs might be available from your town conservation or engineering department.

CIRs, such as this one, use false colors to highlight certain features. Red represents actively photosynthsizing vegetation, black is open water, dark green is wetland area. Isolated areas of dark green and/or black are often vernal pools.

Plus one or more of the following:

GPS unit showing coordinatesGPS coordinates. Take your GPS unit into the field and note the N and W coordinates of the pool. Done!

For large pools, you might want to record and provide more points around the pool or indicate at which end of the pool you recorded coordinates.

The coordinates on the screen to the left would be for a location Northerly at 42 degrees, 35 minutes, 56.1 seconds and Westerly at 70 degrees, 59 minutes, and 18.1 seconds.

Compass bearings and distances map. You can make your own map! A map which has compass directions and distances from at least two permanent markers is often called a "metes and bounds" map. If you are new to using a compass for mapping, you might ask help of friends, local scout or orienteering groups, get a book from the library or search the web for information. The USGS has some information about elementary map and compass use.

professional survey mapProfessional survey map. Sometimes the vernal pool to be certified is already located on professionally made maps. These maps might be subdivision plans, state highway plans (which often shown quite a bit of detail on either side of the roadway), town topographic maps (engineering department or planning board), soil maps, trail maps, orienteering maps, water department maps, park maps and so on. Do some checking. Everyone seems to have maps!

With any map, clearly label the pool you are documenting and label the map as to source and so on.

When you have all your maps together, ask yourself "Could someone really find this pool with these maps? If "yes", you have your mapping completed.