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September 23, 2009
In Reply Refer To:
1703 (280) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2009-212
Expires: 9/30/2010
To:                   All Field Office Officials
From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
Subject:           The Bureau of Land Management Stewardship of the National Hydrography
                        Dataset and the Watershed Boundary Dataset
Program Area: Water Resources (Soil, Water, and Air), Fisheries, Riparian
Purpose:  This Instruction Memorandum provides direction regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) use and stewardship of the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) and the Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD).
These data sets are an important information source for the fish, wildlife, riparian and water resources programs and provide the geospatial theme where program data will be collected, stored, and used throughout the BLM.
Policy/Action: All BLM state and field offices are directed to adopt the NHD and the WBD as their single recognized data source for high resolution Geographical Information System (GIS) hydrography data. States are directed to participate in the NHD and the WBD stewardship programs and to fulfill their stewardship role for these datasets on the BLM administered lands. Each state should designate a primary Data Steward for these datasets, often the State Hydrologist, who works in collaboration with other stewardship organizations within their state.
State Directors are requested to provide the name of the primary Data Stewards to Michael Eberle (michael_eberle@blm.gov), in the Division of Environmental Quality and Protection (WO-280).  
The Policy/Action described in this memorandum addresses the Key Actions described in the Major Milestone #3:  Adopt Authoritative Data Sources Section of the Geospatial Services Strategic Plan.     

Implementation of a stewardship program for the NHD and the WBD by the BLM has the following objectives:

  • To maintain and improve the accuracy of surface water features and hydrologic unit   boundaries on the BLM-managed lands.
  • To recognize the BLM field offices and other appropriate organizations within the state as the primary Stewards of these datasets.
  • To recognize the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as the national stewards who ensure continuity of process, development, and stewardship for the NHD and the WBD respectively. 
Action: The approach to implementing stewardship for these datasets is two-fold. First, in-state agreements are developed between organizations providing stewardship within the state. A second agreement is developed between these state stewardship groups and the national stewards. This second agreement ensures a consistent implementation across the nation.  
If they have not already done so, the BLM states should participate in the development of stewardship agreements between cooperating agencies and organizations within their state and, secondly, in agreements between these in-state stewardship groups and the national stewards, the USGS and the NRCS. Attachment 1, the NHD and the WBD Stewardship Responsibilities Overview, provides useful information pertaining to implementing stewardship within the context of these agreements.
Action: There are two software applications available for BLM use, that function as extensions of the ArcMap GIS software and support maintenance of the NHD.  The USGS provides the NHD Geodatabase Editor which is a tool that should be used for maintaining the NHD. It will be enhanced in the future to support WBD maintenance.  It is available from the USGS site referenced below, following training on use of the tool. The BLM, working cooperatively with regional and national partners, has developed the Hydrography Event Management (HEM) Tool, for editing of attribute information associated with the NHD. Use of this tool is recommended and it can be downloaded from the following site: http://nhd.usgs.gov/tools.html.
Timeframe:  The policy contained in this memorandum is effective immediately. 
Budget Impact: Specific impacts are dependent on the level of the BLM participation in stewardship of the NHD and the WBD. Currently, many BLM FOs are collecting data to update and maintain these datasets. Continued BLM participation should be at a level commensurate with its business needs, national reporting requirements, and that fulfills its data stewardship responsibilities for the BLM lands. 
Background:  The NHD is a vector-based, comprehensive set of digital spatial data representing surface water features that provides a system for linking to attribute information housed in other databases. The WBD is a set of hydrologic unit boundary polygons mapped to the12-digit Hydrologic Unit boundary (10-50,000 acres) which define surface water drainage to a specific “pour” point.  This segregates areas of land that are watersheds (or sub-watersheds) into discrete units that can be monitored and easily compared to similar units. These boundaries serve as an important normalizing tool for analysis and reporting units for the BLM.  For the purposes of this guidance, the NHD and the WBD datasets will be considered together. This follows a decision by the national stewards, the Unites States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to integrate these datasets into a single GIS data model and stewardship strategy.
The BLM has been an active partner and strong supporter of the development of the NHD and the WBD. The agency has invested significant fiscal and staff resources and now, with other state and federal partners, is beginning to realize the benefits of their efforts across the nation.  The NHD and the WBD are already widely used within the Bureau, therefore the agency needs to protect its investment in this dataset by working collaboratively with its partners to improve data quality, accuracy, and completeness.
The USGS has created an NHD stewardship website and is developing a handbook to support these stewardship activities. The website can be found at http://webhosts.cr.usgs.gov/steward/index.html
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  None
Coordination: Coordinated with Decision Support, Planning and NEPA (WO210), Rangeland Resources (WO220), Fish, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (WO230), and Environmental Quality and Protection (WO280).
Contact: Questions regarding the NHD and the WBD stewardship within the BLM can be referred to Dan Wickwire at the Oregon State Office at (503) 808-6272. Dan represents the Bureau on the NHD Management Team and he will distribute additional information to each state’s designated primary Data Steward on the NHD and the WBD related matters. 
Signed by:                                                       Authenticated by:
Richard C. Hanes                                             Robert M. Williams
Acting, Assistant Director                                 Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning
1 Attachment

Last updated: 10-20-2009