The small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides) survey season is about to begin. Development of land with mature hardwood forest that contains an open understory may require a survey. This federally listed threatened plant species can become problematic for development in Virginia east of the Blue Ridge and often requires a site-specific survey conducted by someone registered for Virginia by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Planning development projects within the Northern Virginia region should anticipate the need for this survey in the long-term project timeline as there is a limited period during the year when surveys can be conducted.
In this region, the small whorled pogonia survey may be required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) before Section 404 permits are authorized. The USFWS generally recommends that a survey be conducted on any site within a County of a known small whorled pogonia observation if the appropriate habitat is present. Habitat suitability investigations can be conducted at any time of the year as an inexpensive cursory diagnostic and to identify low-quality habitat sites. A habitat evaluation may be all that is necessary to verify the absence of the plant if habitat is deemed inappropriate. However, when suitable habitat is present, the window of opportunity to conduct small whorled pogonia surveys begins on June 1st and end on July 15th in areas located south of Caroline County, and on July 20th for Caroline County and locales situated to the north. Failure to conduct small whorled pogonia surveys on land containing good habitat may result in delays in the wetland permitting approval process until a survey can be conducted during the approved time period.
For further information about the small whorled pogonia, the impact this plant may have on your development objectives, or to have TNT Environmental conduct a habitat/species survey, please contact Bradley Petru at 703-466-5123.