|PAGE UPDATED ON March 18th, 2014|

Announcements - In Reverse Chronological Order


The winter 2014 issue of The Lay of the Land is now available for downloading.

The MAPSS Annual Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 at the Wells Conference Center at the University of Maine in Orono. Download the Agenda and the Registration form.

The proposal from the MAPSS Technical Committee for adoption of the Connotative Soil Survey (CSS) and accompanying Explanation and Usage Guide should be carefully reviewed prior to the Annual Meeting of March 18th, 2014.

  • The Connotative Soil Survey and accompanying Explanation and Usage Guide are an “additional option” or “optional addition”, to be added to the current MAPSS Guidelines;

  • And that the current MAPSS Guidelines for Order I mapping ("High Intensity Soil Surveys"; i.e., Class A, B, C, D) will not change;

  • And the Order I mapping ("High Intensity Soil Surveys"; i.e., Class A, B, C, D) map will still need to be performed.

Please view the comparison chart for the two mapping styles for additional details.

M.A.W.S. Annual Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 26th, 2014, at Thorne Hall, Bowdoin College, Brunswick.

The Soil Science Society of Northern New England (SSSNNE) is holding their Annual Meeting on Thursday, February 27th, in Burlington, Vermont. The Agenda can be downloaded. Directions the Annual Meeting can be downloaded.

Temporary Teaching Opportunity at Unity College I am looking for someone who might be interested in a temporary teaching opportunity at Unity College in spring 2015 for a sabbatical replacement (pending the outcome of my application). The teaching responsibilities would include an Environmental Geology course and a Weather and Climate course. Each course has a lab component to it. If you are interested or would like more information, please contact Kevin Spigel (kspigel@unity.edu). Feel free to pass this announcement along. Kevin M. Spigel, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Geoscience Co-Director of Undergraduate Research Unity College kspigel@unity.edu 207.948.9215 https://sites.google.com/a/unity.edu/kspigel/ http://www.unity.edu/academics/undergraduate_research


On Thursday, September 26th, plan on attending the MASE Field Day at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine. Backhoe-dug soil pits will be available for morning inspection, followed by an afternoon discussion.

October 11-13th: 3 days, 17 individual, day-long field trips, including bedrock, glacial, pedology, archaeology, and mining trips in the Katahdin region. Pre-registration is required at New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference.

Minimum size map units for wetland delineation: The following guidance is provided by U.S. ACOE Senior Project Manager Jay Clement. It evolved from the panel discussion at the September 4th, 2013 MAPSS field conference at Mt. Blue State Park. Jay Clement can be reached at the Maine Project Office, (207) 623-8367.

  • "Getting back to you and the group as promised on the question about mapping protocols. After discussing the question with Ruth Ladd and Paul Minkin at our MA headquarters, they confirm that there is no definitive guidance to fall back on in the '87 Corps Manual or the Regional Supplement. Similarly, there isn't any informal guidance to fall back on. And at least the New England states appear to all have variable requirements as to the size wetland that gets mapped."

  • "So some best professional judgment and common sense has to prevail here. Is the wetland just an isolated pocket or is it part of some larger pit/mound landscape. If it's the latter, the regional supplement does offer guidance as to when areas are wetlands and when they're not. A delineator could therefore make a call that a pit/mound landscape wasn't a wetland even though there might be 'pockets' of hydric soil, hydrology indicators, and wetland plants. Your map/plan would reflect that."

  • "But when all you're dealing with is a traditional landscape that happens to have some wetland 'pockets', there is technically no minimum threshold for mapping if an area meets all 3 parameters. Many of these folks are already identifying and mapping vernal pools or potential vernal pools down to pretty small sizes. Wetland mapping really shouldn't be much different. How it appears on a plan will undoubtedly be a function of the plan's scale. On a small scale map, small wetlands, drainages, vernal pools, etc will probably only be represented by a symbol, a dashed line (drainage), or a point. A larger scale map lends itself to greater detail in terms of depicting an actual boundary."

  • "However you make the call, document, document, document (so that third parties understand why you determined what you did). And when in doubt, contact the Corps and the DEP."

The joint MAPSS - MAWS - MASE late summer field workshop was held at Mt. Blue State Park on Wednesday, September 4th. Download the field workshop information and registration form.
Download the digital orthophotos with driving directions, detailed map of each workshop site, and the locations of the registration desk and afternoon panel discussion locations: Map #1 and Map #2.

Thanks to all who organized and staffed the workshop, especially to Dave Rocque, without whose enthusiasm and persistence this workshop would not have taken place.

Downloand the soil pit pedon descriptions for the 4 sites.

Download the summer 2013 edition of The Lay of the Land.

Penobscot River Restoration Great Works & Veazie Dam Removals and the Sedgeunkedunk Steam Restoration. Sponsored by Ecological Landscaping Association and Society for Ecological Restoration - New England Chapter. Thursday, August 8, 2013 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM; $35.00 ELA & SER Members - $40 Non-Member. Link to the PDF flier for more information.

MAWS presents a workshop Delineating Federal Wetlands Using the Northcentral/Northeast Regional Supplement, Thursday August 8th, 2013, 9:00am-3:00pm - Smiling Hill Farm, 781 County Road, Westbrook, Maine. Link to the MAWS website for more information.

NHANRS & SSSNNE present a SOIL MAPPING WORKSHOP: Principles, Process & Techniques. FRIDAY AUGUST 16, 2013, 8:00am - 3:00pm, Dover, NH. Link to the PDF flier for more information.

View looking north of Webb Lake and the ridgeline of Tumbledown and Little Jackson mountains

Soil and wetland scientists during last year's field workshop

The Janet Engle Cormier Memorial Scholarship Committee voted on March 27th, 2013 to split the $1,000 award to two deserving candidates, Aaron Englander and Cayce Salvano. UMaine-Orono plans to have an awards ceremony on Wednesday, April 17 at the University’s Fogler Library, and MAPSS President Don Phillips will hand out $500 checks to each of them at the ceremony.

Following up on members' questions during Tom Peragallo's presentation at the 2013 Annual Meeting, Ruth Ladd from US ACOE gives this guidance for using the New England Hydric Soil Indicators
'Chapter 5 (of the "Supplement" manual, on p.114: "In general, wetland determinations on difficult or problematic sites must be based on the best information available to the field inspector, interpreted in light of his or her professional experience and knowledge of the ecology of wetlands in the region."
The NE Indicators document is one type of "best information" that can be used to support how a practitioner addresses a problem soil. It is not the only thing.'


  • The MAPSS Annual Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 12th, 2013. The Agenda and registration form can be downloaded.

  • The MAWS Annual Meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 25th, 2013. Please visit the MAWS website for the meeting Agenda and Registration. Early registration discounts apply.

  • The SSSNNE (SOIL SCIENCE SOCIETY OF NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND) Annual Meeting is scheduled for Friday, February 15, 2013 at the Maine Audubon Gilsland Farm Facility in Falmouth, Maine. Download the Agenda and Registration forms. Also, be sure to visit their website.

  • The MASE Annual Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 5th, 2013.

  • The Maine Water Conference is scheduled for Tuesday, March 19th, 2013. Visit their website for more information.

  • The Northeast Section of the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting is scheduled for Monday through Wednesday, March 18th to 20th, 2013. Visit their website for more information.

Maine Audubon and other project partners are holding several Stream Smart workshops.


Undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to apply for the Janet Engle Cormier Scholarship Award. Completed applications are due March 8th, 2013.

Stantec has two wetland / natural resource scientist positions open. Please use this link for further details.

MAWS is hosting an afternoon workshop MAINE INLAND WADING BIRD AND WATERFOWL HABITAT WORKSHOP, to be held on Tuesday, October 2nd, from 1 to 5pm at the Augusta Elks Lodge.

The annual MASE field day is scheduled for Thursday, September 27th. Please download the PDF registration and information form.

The expert workshop soil pit descriptions, vegetation lists, and photos have been compiled on a separate page. Thanks to Dave Rocque, NRCS staff Nick Butler and Bob Evon for continuous pumping of pits, NRCS staff Dave Wilkinson and Greg Granger for pedon descriptions, the City of Augusta Public Works Department, MAPSS, MAWS, and MASE volunteers, the Urban Soils 2012 field workshop was a success.

The 2012 MAPSS/MAWS/MASE Urban/Altered/Disturbed Soils Workshop will be held at the Augusta Bond Brook Trail System Site at the end of the Augusta Airport in Augusta, Maine on September 6, 2012 from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. Download the registration form.

This workshop is of interest to those natural resource professionals who typically encounter sites with altered soil conditions ("made land"; udorthents; filled and regraded sites), altered hydrology, and the often unusual florisitic taxa that are observed on these sites. For further description of the workshop, please download the full workshop description.

The color orthophoto for the workshop location can be downloaded here.

The proposed new taxonomic classification for anthropogenic soils can be downloaded here for tomorrow's workshop.

The MAPSS brochure is now available. Please download the PDF preliminary version and submit comments to Johanna Szillery by October 15th, 2012.

The summer, 2012 edition of The Lay of the Land is available for downloading.

2012 Northeast Regional Cooperative Soil Survey Technical Tour, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20, 2012: MILLINOCKET AND NORTH WOODS, MAINE

Technical Tour north to the foot of Katahdin and the Golden Road in Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties, Maine. We’ll see some of the typical pedons described by NRCS soil scientists in the North Woods, such as Nicholville, Chesuncook, Monadnock, Colton, Kinsman, and Adams. NRCS soil scientists will have lab data on some of these pedons as well. We’ll cover related topics such as glacial geology, hydric soils, and elemental distributions of the major soil series in the North Woods of Maine. We are planning X-ray field exercises at sites with lab data.


8:00AM - 5:00PM Technical Field Tour

Bus departs from UMaine campus for Millinocket and North Woods.

6:00PM - 8:00PM Lobster Bake at Black Bear Inn, Orono

Keynote Speaker: Chris Dorion “The Glacial Geology and Soils of Baxter Park”

* Bus fee, snacks, lunch and lobster banquet are included with Technical Tour registration.


The cost of the workshop is $75.00 for MAPSS/MAWS/MASE members or associate members.

For planning purposes, we ask that you email Gary Fullerton or Johanna Szillery by June 11, 2012.

Please see the Registration Form for more information about the tour itinerary, agenda content, and registration information.

View of Katadhin from the Golden Road, Maine's highest mountain.

Maine's State Soil, the Chesuncook Series, a COARSE-LOAMY, ISOTIC, FRIGID AQUIC HAPLORTHOD

A modern analogue for what Maine looked like ~12,000 years ago. This is the margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Several parent materials are being produced: glaciofluvial outwash, ablation till, and aeolian (wind blown) sands.

If you wish to stay at hotels listed on the website, they are honoring lower room rates for the “Soils Conference” participants until 15 May.

Full and Associate Member directories have been updated. Please verify the accuracy of your data; if further changes are needed, please email web master Chris Dorion.

Changes to the MAPSS Guidelines: The Membership voted to suspend the section on Oxyaquic Conditions, pending field trials set to begin during the early summer of 2012. These field studies will evaluate the relationship between drainage class & hydrology, redoximorphic features indicative of saturation, and timing of the growing season.

"SOIL WETNESS Soil wetness refers to the duration, depth and oxidation state of a seasonal high water table [AND]. There are two kinds of seasonal water tables which soil mappers should identify when working in the field. One is associated with a water table that becomes at least partially devoid of oxygen resulting in the formation of redoximorphic features. These soils are mapped according to soil drainage classes as described below. The other kind is associated with a water table that does not become devoid of oxygen so that redoximorphic features do not form. These soils however have other morphological indicators of soil wetness. They should be mapped according to the discussion of Soils With Oxyaquic Conditions below. Soils With Oxyaquic Conditions Some soils have a seasonal high water table which does not result in the development of redoximorphic features because they do not become devoid of oxygen. Since soils with oxygenated water react similarly to those that have an anaerobic water table for most uses and management purposes, it is important to identify and map them. These soils are typically located in either cool climates (coastal, high elevations or northern parts of the State) on long sloping landforms, particularly those formed by lodgment till or where the slope levels out at the base of a long slope. They are most common where there are both cool temperatures and wetter positions in the landscape. Cool temperatures reduce microbial activity and long sloping landforms provide for oxygenated water. These soils may have redoximorphic features in dense parent material but commonly lack them in the soil horizons above the pan. In order to determine the depth to the seasonal high water table it is necessary to look for other morphological indicators of wetness within the soil and take into consideration a number of other site-related factors. These soils should be mapped as variants of the soil series that they are most similar to and would react like, for use and management. For instance, if a soil classifies as being moderately well drained according to depth and type of redoximorphic features, but has evidence of oxyaquic conditions consistent with the depth to a seasonal high water table of a somewhat poorly drained soil, it should be mapped as a somewhat poorly drained variant of the wetter soil series. Indicators of Soils With Oxyaquic Conditions Soils with oxyaquic conditions commonly (but not always):

  • 1. are in slight to strongly concave positions in the landscape but may be on a uniform slope.
  • 2. have a very stony to rubbly surface that may be covered with organic duff.
  • 3. have vegetation that is shallow rooted but not because of dense till, bedrock, very coarse textured soil horizons, or a seasonal water table with redoximorphic features present.
  • 4. have thickened organic horizons as compared to better drained soils in the vicinity
  • 5. have an A or thickened A horizon where better drained soils in the vicinity do not have an A or have a thin A horizon.
  • 6. are less well developed than better drained soils in the vicinity. Commonly, they will classify as Inceptisols while better drained soils in the vicinity will classify as Spodosols or have spodic properties.
  • 7. have evidence of organic matter streaking or different shades of olive and brown in the B horizon (poly value and/or poly chromatic).
  • 8. have vegetation that is hydrophytic or the vegetation is upland but has evidence of stress such as tree roots growing along the ground surface, multi- stems and/or buttressing.
  • 9. have a large contributing (upslope) watershed to create the groundwater table and for the hydraulic gradient necessary to push it along."

The MAPSS Annual Meeting was held on Friday, March 16th at University of Southern Maine - Portland campus. Meeting Agenda and registration form should be downloaded. The registration deadline is MARCH 7th.

The MAPSS Technical Committee proposed the following changes to the MAPSS Drainage Key, which were approved by the Memberhsip at the Annual Meeting:

  1. Under PD criteria, “…a Bh or Bhs horizon that is value 3 or less and chroma 3 or less, ….” [changing from chroma 2 to chroma 3]

  2. Adopting a new format for PD and VPD that follows the style of the keys found in Keys to Soil Taxonomy, Eleventh Edition, 2010.

  3. Removing the “p” from “Ap” horizon (an “A” horizon by definition includes Ap horizons and all other subordinate distinctions)

  4. Converting inch measurements to metric as the primary standard, but still retaining the inches in parentheses.

The full minutes of the MAPSS Technical Committee can be downloaded here. The Technical Committee is comprised of Christopher Dorion (Chair), George Bakajza, Greg Granger, Steve Howell, Tony Jenkins, Dave Marceau, Dave Rocque, Johanna Szillery, and Dave Turcotte.

The MAPSS Annual Meeting program has been awarded 6 contact hours for Site Evaluators, Certified System Inspectors, and Certified System Installers. James A. Jacobsen, Project Manager, Webmaster, Division of Environmental Health, Drinking Water Program, Subsurface Wastewater Unit

The January, 2012 ACOE Regional Supplement has several changes. Download the 2 page document here.

The Full Member and Associate Member Directories were updated today. In order to be listed, one's membership dues for 2011 must be current. Please review for accuracy by linking to the "Directory of Members" at left and following the instructions.

The FULL MEMBER and ASSOCIATE MEMBER directories are now in HTML format. Please link to them using "Directory of Members" link at left. Please scroll to your individual data cells and note any changes / additions / corrections, and then e-mail them to Chris Dorion, Webmaster.

Publication of Field Indicators of Hydric Soils in the United States Version 7.0 is now available in electronic format. Download it here.


Please contact: Gary Fullerton if your e-mail address changes and you wish to remain on the MAPSS bulk e-mail notification list. This is the primary means of communication now.

The 11th edition of Keys to Soil Taxonomy, as well as a summary of all changes for this new version of the Keys, are available at the NRCS website.

The 2009 MAPSS Guidelines are now uploaded. Use the link at left "Publications + MAPSS Guidelines" to download the PDF files.

The 2009 Executive Committee was elected at the Annual Meeting on March 10th. Use the link to the left for the new E.C. and Committee Chair list and e-mail contacts.

Why soil is important: that 10 inch thick Ap horizon is all that separates us from starvation. See the review of Dirt the Movie

Check out the Chesuncook soil monolith at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (scroll down to Image #11) in Washington, D.C. MAPSS raised over $10,000 for the monolith display.

Coarse fragment descriptions in the National Soil Survey Handbook have been updated.
Please check out this link to coarse fragment descriptions.

Maine Catena Key Update (spring, 2008)

  • Boothbay is now limited to MWD
  • Pushaw added as an aquept (SPD) to the Boothbay catena
  • Ricker now limited to cryic areas
  • Knob Lock replaces Ricker in frigid areas
  • Moosabec replaces Waskish as sphagnofibrists in the Northeast
  • Meadowsedge replaces Rifle as Euic Frigid Typic Haplohemists in the Northeast
  • Do NOT use the Peru soil series in the Marlow catena; use Dixfield
  • Do NOT use any mesic soil series in Maine
  • In the old soil surveys, Buxton soils on a B-slope are now Lamoine soils

MOOSABEC soil series adopted in Maine

The MOOSABEC series has replaced the Waskish series. These are very poorly drained organic soils. For more information, visit the links in the left navigation column SOIL DATA and head to the OSD descriptions.

KNOB LOCK soil series adopted in Maine

"The Knob Lock series consists of very shallow and shallow, well drained to excessively drained organic soils on mountains and hills. They formed in thin organic deposits underlain in most places by a very thin mineral horizon over bedrock. TAXONOMIC CLASS: Dysic, frigid Lithic Udifolists" (Official Series Description)
Note that this soil series is in the frigid temperature regime. Ricker soils are now limited to the cryic temperature regime.
For more information, visit the links in the left navigation column SOIL DATA and head to the OSD descriptions.

MAPSS Display Board
MAPSS has overhauled the MAPSS display board. If you need it for a presentation, please contact Johanna Szillery, Education Chair.

Please use the link in the left navigation window "Past Events & Workshops - RESULTS (Write-ups, Comments, and Photos Albums are HERE)" to access MAPSS' archives of past workshops, meetings, and conferences.