The changes in the 2016 standards for an ALTA/NSPS Land Survey relating to wetlands are subtle but important. The new standards emphasize the fact that an ALTA surveyor is not a wetlands expert. The detail provided in the survey depends on whether a qualified expert in wetlands has been involved in the process.
If there has been a delineation of wetlands from a qualified expert hired by an owner, an ALTA surveyor is required to denote the boundaries for the wetlands. Similarly, if no wetlands delineation has been provided, an ALTA surveyor is required to provide that information as part of the report. When a client commissions an ALTA survey, it must elect to have wetlands addressed in the optional Table A section of the report.
Terminology for referring to wetlands professionals has changed
Prior to the 2016 revisions for the standard ALTA survey, the term “appropriate authorities” was used to describe wetlands experts. The 2016 standards have replaced that term with “qualified specialist,” making the rule clearer.
With regard to the survey, wetlands are part of the optional Table A, item 18. Some confusion can arise from a client wanting to have item 18 included in the report even though the surveyor has not been provided with a field delineation report. In that case, the only requirement for the surveyor is to note that no markers delineating wetlands have been observed in the course of completing the report.
For interested parties, the US Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetlands Inventory can help identify significant wetland areas, although it is not a substitute for hiring a qualified specialist in the field.
At Millman National Land Services, we provide ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys that are relied upon by lenders, investors, attorneys and title companies. Our in-house staff has the local knowledge and technological expertise to ensure your property investment is protected.