NB_180_19_11 - NB 180-19-11 CPA – Release and Availability of the Highly Erodible Land Determination Tool.
NB 180-19-11 CPA – Release and Availability of the Highly Erodible Land Determination Tool.
National Bulletin: 180-19-11 Date: September 10, 2019
Subject: CPA – Release and Availability of the Highly Erodible Land Determination Tool.

Purpose.  To notify states that a Highly Erodible Land (HEL) determination tool is available for use.  
Expiration Date.   September 30, 2020
Background.  A new standardized HEL determination tool is available for use by all states and U.S. territories. Use of the tool is optional, however agency-wide adoption is recommended due to its many benefits. This tool has been created with the field office in mind, enabling improved internal efficiencies and external customer service by decreasing response times for HEL determinations. The tool creates greater product consistency in making determinations and assists field office employees by automatically generating form NRCS-CPA-026e, a determination map, and a corresponding transmittal letter. Nationally on average, NRCS completes 60,000 HEL determinations a year. This tool can save an estimated 2.5 hours per determination and up to 53 staff years per year nationally. The tool can utilize Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data to evaluate potentially highly erodible (PHEL) soils offsite. For states which do not have LiDAR, there is still significant time savings since the tool evaluates the percent and acreage of HEL and NHEL soil map units by field, and automatically generates the associated determination products. To utilize the tool, States must create or use a pre-existing geospatial soils layer which is consistent with the 1990 “frozen” soil lists. The tool uses existing ArcGIS and MS Access software.

States that currently have an automated HEL determination process are encouraged but not required to change to the use of this tool.   

Explanation.  Details on input data requirements, including elevation and soils data, are included in the Administrator Guide which is part of the download folder identified below.

Prior to using the tool for offsite evaluation of PHEL soils, states must evaluate this tools function in comparison to any existing field or office procedures to ensure consistency in the evaluation.

To access the tool materials and instructions, visit the 2019 HEL folder on the NRCS GIS SharePoint site:


Contact.  Questions about this bulletin may be directed to Jason Outlaw, national leader for wetland and highly erodible land conservation, at (202) 720-7838 or by email at Jason.Outlaw@usda.gov. Questions about tool installation may be directed to Dwain Daniels, GIS specialist at (817) 509-3358 or by email at Dwain.Daniels@usda.gov.


Deputy Chief for Science & Technology   


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