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Vegetation Identification for Wetland Delineation: South

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Course Code: EH0201CA18

This course is eligible for continuing education credits toward the Society of Wetland Scientists’
Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS) Certificate Program.

Vegetation Identification Training Course

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Date & Time

Last Held: September 14-15, 2017
8:30am - 5:00pm (Check-in time on Day 1: 8:00am)

Next Offering TBD


Wetland plants, also known as hydrophytes or hydrophytic vegetation, have adaptations that enable them to grow and reproduce with their roots in water or saturated soil for at least part of the year. In contrast, plants that cannot survive in saturated conditions are commonly referred to as upland plants.

Along with hydric soils and hydrology, the presence of wetland plants is one of the primary factors involved in the identification of wetland areas and the delineation of wetland boundaries. Therefore, the ability to identify wetland plants and and distinguish between upland and wetland plant species is an essential step in the wetland delineation process.

In this two-day course, you will learn plant identification principles and study diagnostic characteristics of species frequently encountered by wetland delineators in the Southern New Jersey region. By the end of the course, you will be able to quickly and confidently identify the wetland plant species that are important in determining if an area meets the hydrophytic vegetation criterion for wetland delineation.

NOTE: This is a field-based course, so please dress accordingly for the outdoors!

Click on the tabs below for more details about this wetland vegetation identification course.

Course Objectives:

1. To provide late summer field identification methods for the most common wetland plant communities of New Jersey's Coastal Plain.

2. To explain plant community distribution on the basis of surface geology, soils, hydrology gradients, and the impacts of human disturbances, including fire, farming and forest harvesting.

3. To learn and identify plant communities and their dominant species and associations.

4. To provide practical field skills and techniques that will enable students to identify South Jersey's most frequently encountered wetland trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, using the plant community as a context to aid wetland delineation.

Day 1: Southern Coastal Plain Interior and Delaware Bay

8:00am - 8:15am: Reception and Coffee / Refreshments
8:15am - 9:00am: Instructors' Introduction; Course Itinerary
9:00am - 1:00pm: Vegetation Types of NJ's Southern Interior
1:00pm - 1:30pm: Lunch; Informal Chat on Peek Preserve Vegetation
1:30pm - 5:00pm: Marshes of Delaware Bay

Wetland vegetation communities explored: Oak/Pine, Oak Dominated, Red Maple and Pitch Pine Lowlands, Cranberry Bogs, Impoundments, and Cedar Swamp

Day 2: Northern Pine Barrens and Atlantic Coastal Edge

8:00am - 8:15am: Morning Reception
8:15am - 9:15am: Discussion/Summary of previous day's work, review of specimens observed & previously collected
9:15am - 12:00pm: Ocean County Northern Pine Barrens
12:00pm - 1:00pm: Lunch; Short Quiz
1:00pm - 5:00pm: Cape May I Formation Coastal hardwood forest, Atlantic coastal marshes; Plains vegetation (if time permits)

Wetland vegetation communities explored: Cedar Savanna, Pine Barrens Lake Edge, Pitch Pine Lowland, Maple Cripple, and Cedar Swamp

This wetland vegetation identification course is designed for anyone who wants to gain experience identifying wetland plants, including:

  • Ecologists and Biologists
  • Engineers
  • Environmental Scientists and Consultants
  • Landscape Architects and Landscape Designers
  • Land Surveyors
  • Natural Resources Specialists
  • Park Naturalists
  • Wetlands Specialists and Wetland Scientists
  • Wildlife Field Technicians

Comments from Past Students about this Vegetation Identification for Wetland Delineation course:

"Excellent. [Appreciated] learning minute difference[s] between very similar species."
- Brian Yades, Environmental Scientist

"[This course] is an excellent tie-in to [wetland] delineation training. Good way to learn plants in NJ."

"Very well organized plant ID course; comprehensive in terms of plant communities and habitats."

"I learned different wetland and upland species. It will make wetland identification easier."

"There were several quick useful tips the instructors gave us that would allow one to easily narrow a plant down to a few possibilities."

"Great. The number of wetlands communities we were able to see in the time available was quite a feat."

"The field work, just walking through different plant communities with such knowledgeable people was great."

raplph tiner, wetlands instructorRalph Tiner, M.S., M.P.A.. SWS Fellow has over 40 years of practical experience in wetland delineation and is a nationally recognized authority in the field. He recently retired from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service where he directed wetland mapping in the Northeast United States as part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's National Wetlands Inventory (NWI). He is a nationally recognized expert on wetland delineation and has been actively involved in improving wetland delineation techniques for decades. In addition, he was compiler and principal author of the Federal Interagency Wetland Delineation Manual, which was published in 1989 and is the standard for identifying and delineating wetlands in New Jersey.

Ralph has written extensively on the subject of wetlands and is the author of several field guides including: Field Guide to Non-tidal Wetland Identification, Maine Wetlands and Their Boundaries, A Field Guide to Coastal Wetland Plants of the Northeastern United States, and In Search of Swampland, as well as an update of the Wetland Indicators book entitled Wetland Indicators: A Guide to Wetland Formation, Identification, Delineation, Classification, and Mapping. His most recent books are: Tidal Wetlands Primer: An Introduction to Their Ecology, Natural History, Status, and Conservation and Remote Sensing of Wetlands: Applications and Advances (for which he is senior editor and authored several chapters).

In addition to writing about wetlands, he has been teaching wetland identification and delineation courses through the Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education Office since the mid-1980s.

Comments from Past Students about Ralph Tiner:

  • "Ralph is the dude! Entertaining and excellent teacher. Ralph has a deep knowledge of wetlands and much more, is a joy to listen to."
    -Thomas D'Angelo, Environmental Consultant
  • "Very knowledgeable about plants and wetlands in general, entertaining teaching style."
  • "Patient, great at guiding field exercises."
  • "Great expertise and hands on experience."
  • "Mr. Tiner is very knowledgeable and friendly in his teaching methods."

Jump-Start Your Career with a Rutgers Wetland Certificate!

Promote your education and experience in wetland plant identification and delineation -- earn the nationally recognized Rutgers Wetland Delineation Certificate!

This certificate program consists of 6 days of training: our 2-day Vegetation Identification course (North or South ONLY) and our 4-day Methodology of Delineating Wetlands course.

Participants must also complete the take-home exam with a score of 70% or better in order to earn the certificate.

NOTE: If you are planning to earn the Wetland Delineation Certificate, we require that you complete Vegetation Identification prior to attending the Methodology of Delineating Wetlands class.

Vegetation Identification Course - South: Photo Slideshow

Recertification Credits

The September 14-15, 2017 offering of this course was approved for the following credits. We will reapply for similar credits the next time the course runs, but we cannot guarantee credit approval for future offerings.

In addition to 1.6 Rutgers CEUs, this wetland training course is approved for the following credits:

Certified Public Works Managers - 5 Technical, 5 Management

Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES) Credits - 12.0

Landscape Architects (NJ) - 16 hours

Landscape Architects (NYS) - 1 hr CL; 13 hr EA

Land Surveyors (NYS) - 12 hours

Professional Engineers (NYS) - 12 hours

Professional Engineers (NJ) - 12 hours

Society of American Foresters - Category 1: 12, Category 2: 0

Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program (SWSPCP) - Vegetation Identification for Wetland Delineation: South has been pre-approved for 1.0 equivalent semester hours by the SWSPCP as meeting standards for content and instruction toward SWSPCP Professional Certification or SWSPCP Professional Certification Renewal. Approval per course is calculated based upon 15 hours of contact time per credit. Click here for more information about the Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program (SWSPCP).

ATTENTION HEALTH OFFICERS AND REGISTERED ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SPECIALISTS: Rutgers University, NJAES, Office of Continuing Professional Education has been approved by the New Jersey Department of Health as a provider of NJ Public Health Continuing Education Contact Hours (CEs). Participants who complete this education program will be awarded 12 NJ Public Health Continuing Education Contact Hours (CEs).

Recommended Textbooks

You may purchase one or more of these recommended textbooks on your own or through our office with your registration:

- A Field Guide to Wildflowers: Northeastern and North-Central North America (Peterson Field Guides) [ISBN 0395911729] by Margaret McKenny, Roger Tory Peterson - $25

- Plant Communities of New Jersey: A Study in Landscape Diversity [ISBN 0813520711] by Beryl Robichaud Collins - $30 (NOTE: This textbook is “print on demand” and only
available through our office until Monday, August 7, 2017

- The Shrub Identification Book [ISBN 0688050409] by George W. Symonds - $30

- The Tree Identification Book [ISBN 0688050399] by George W. Symonds - $30

Early Registration Fee TBD  
Multi Course Registration Fee TBD  
Registration Fee TBD  

Substitutions are permitted. View cancellation policy.


Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided to you at no additional cost.

NOTE: If you have any dietary restrictions or food allergies, please alert us at least one (1) week in advance of the course start date so that we can make reasonable accommodations. We cannot guarantee accommodations for special requests made after that time.


We strongly recommend that you use the directions we provide.

Harold N. Peek Preserve
2100 Route 47 South, Millville, NJ 08332
Directions and Map

(Day 2 is held at a separate location. Further information will be provided in your registration packet.)

Note: Pre-registration is required. We're sorry, but we cannot guarantee a seat, materials or meals for walk-in registrants. Location is subject to change; registrants will be notified in the event of a change.


Sorry, registration is not currently available for this course.

Would you like to be notified when the next offering is scheduled? 
Here are 3 convenient ways to be added to our mailing list:
1. Click here to join our mailing list (please reference "Vegetation Identification for Wetland Delineation: South" or Course Code EH0201) 
2. Call us at 848-932-9271, select option 3
3. E-mail us at ocpe@njaes.rutgers.edu

Program Questions? Contact Us!

Program Coordinator: Suzanne Hills, 848-932-7234

Attention U.S. Veterans

All of the courses offered by the Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education are approved by the New Jersey State Approving Agency for Veterans Training for educational benefits through the GI Bill. For more information about the GI Bill, click here.