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Code of Virginia
Title 54.1. Professions and Occupations
Chapter 22. Soil Scientists, Wetland Professionals, and Geologists
5/14/2021

Chapter 22. Soil Scientists, Wetland Professionals, and Geologists.

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 54.1-2200. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Board" means the Board for Professional Soil Scientists, Wetland Professionals, and Geologists.

"Department" means the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

"Eligible soil scientist" means a person who possesses the qualifications specified in this chapter to become licensed.

"Eligible wetland professional" means a person who possesses the qualifications specified in this chapter to become certified.

"Geologist" means a person engaged in the public practice of geology.

"Geology" means the science dealing with (i) the earth and its history in general; (ii) the investigation, prediction, evaluation, and location of materials and structures which compose the earth; (iii) the natural processes that cause changes in the earth; and (iv) the application of knowledge of the earth, its processes, and its constituent rocks, minerals, liquids, gases, and other natural materials.

"Practice of geology" means the performance of any service or work for the general public wherein the principles and methods of geology are applied.

"Practice of soil evaluation" means the evaluation of soil by accepted principles and methods including, but not limited to, observation, investigation, and consultation on measured, observed and inferred soils and their properties; analysis of the effects of these properties on the use and management of various kinds of soil; and preparation of soil descriptions, maps, reports and interpretive drawings.

"Practice of wetland delineation" means the delineation of wetlands by accepted principles and methods including, but not limited to, observation, investigation, and consultation on soil, vegetation, and hydrologic parameters; and preparation of wetland delineations, descriptions, reports and interpretive drawings.

"Qualified geologist" means an uncertified person who possesses all the qualifications specified in this chapter for certification.

"Soil" means the groups of natural bodies occupying the unconsolidated portion of the earth's surface which are capable of supporting plant life and have properties caused by the combined effects, as modified by topography and time, of climate and living organisms upon parent materials.

"Soil evaluation" means plotting soil boundaries, describing and evaluating the kinds of soil and predicting their suitability for and response to various uses.

"Soil science" means the science dealing with the physical, chemical, mineralogical, and biological properties of soils as natural bodies.

"Soil scientist" means a person having special knowledge of soil science and the methods and principles of soil evaluation as acquired by education and experience in the formation, description and mapping of soils.

"Virginia certified professional geologist" means a person who possesses all qualifications specified in this chapter for certification and whose competence has been attested by the Board through certification.

"Virginia certified professional wetland delineator" means a person who possesses the qualifications required for certification by the provisions of this chapter and the regulations of the Board and who is granted certification by the Board.

"Virginia licensed professional soil scientist" means a person who possesses the qualifications required for licensure by the provisions of this chapter and the regulations of the Board and who has been granted a license by the Board.

"Wetland delineation" means delineating wetland limits in accordance with prevailing state and federal regulatory guidance and describing wetland types.

"Wetland professional" means a person having special knowledge of wetland science and the methods and principles of wetland delineation as acquired by education and experience in the formation, description and mapping of wetlands.

"Wetland science" means the science dealing with the physical, chemical, and biological properties of wetland systems integrated through ecological and morphological relationships.

"Wetlands" means the same as that term is defined in §§ 28.2-1300 and 62.1-44.3.

1987, c. 626, § 54-969; 1988, c. 765; 1993, c. 499; 2002, c. 784; 2011, cc. 777, 859; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 54.1-2200.1. Expired.

Expired.

§ 54.1-2200.2. Board for Professional Soil Scientists, Wetland Professionals, and Geologists; membership; quorum.

A. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 54.1-200, the Board for Professional Soil Scientists, Wetland Professionals, and Geologists shall be composed of 13 members as follows: three licensed professional soil scientists, three certified professional wetland delineators, three geologists, and three citizen members. The State Geologist shall serve as an ex officio member of the Board. The geologist members shall be of varied backgrounds. The professional soil scientist members shall have experience in at least one of the following areas: (i) soil mapping and classification, (ii) soil suitability and land use, (iii) teaching and research in soil science, and (iv) environmental protection regulations. Of the wetland professional members, one shall have experience in wetland delineation and description, one shall have experience in teaching and research in wetland science, and one shall have experience with natural resource regulations. Terms of the members shall be for four years.

B. The Board shall annually elect a chairman from its membership. Seven board members, consisting of at least two soil scientists, two professional wetland delineators, two geologists, and one citizen, shall constitute a quorum.

C. The Governor may select the professional soil scientist members from a list of at least three names for each vacancy submitted by the Virginia Association of Professional Soil Scientists. The Governor may notify the Virginia Association of Professional Soil Scientists of any professional vacancy other than by expiration among the professional soil scientist members of the Board and nominations may be made for the filling of the vacancy.

D. The Governor may select the wetland professionals from a list of at least three names for each vacancy submitted by the Virginia Association of Wetland Professionals. The Governor may notify and request nominations from the Virginia Association of Wetland Professionals of any professional vacancy other than by expiration among the wetland professional members.

2012, cc. 803, 835.

Article 2. Soil Scientists and Wetland Professionals.

§ 54.1-2201. Exceptions.

A. The certification program for wetland delineation set forth in this chapter shall be voluntary and shall not be construed to prohibit:

1. The practice of wetland delineation by individuals who are not certified professional wetland delineators as defined in this chapter;

2. The work of an employee or a subordinate of a certified professional wetland delineator or of an individual who is practicing wetland delineation without being certified;

3. The work of any professional engineer, landscape architect, or land surveyor as defined by § 54.1-400 in rendering any of the services that constitute the practice of wetland delineation or the practice of soil evaluation; or

4. The practice of any profession or occupation that is regulated by another regulatory board within the Department.

B. The licensing program for professional soil scientists shall not be construed to prohibit:

1. The work of an employee or a subordinate of a licensed soil scientist;

2. The work of any professional engineer, landscape architect, or land surveyor as defined in § 54.1-400 in rendering any services that constitute the practice of soil evaluation; or

3. The practice of any profession or occupation that is regulated by another regulatory board within the Department.

C. Nothing in this chapter shall authorize an individual to engage in the practice of engineering, the practice of land surveying or the practice of landscape architecture, unless such individual is licensed or certified pursuant to Chapter 4 (§ 54.1-400 et seq.).

1987, c. 626, § 54-970; 1988, c. 765; 1993, c. 499; 2002, c. 784; 2009, c. 309; 2011, cc. 777, 859.

§ 54.1-2202. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2012, cc. 803 and 835, cl. 39.

§ 54.1-2203. Certification as wetland delineator.

A. Any person practicing or offering to practice as a wetland professional in the Commonwealth may submit to the Board evidence of qualification to be a certified professional wetland delineator as provided in this chapter. The Board may certify any applicant who has satisfactorily met the requirements of this chapter and its regulations and shall specify on the certificate the appropriate endorsement.

B. Any individual who allows his certification to lapse by failing to renew the certificate or failing to meet professional activity requirements stipulated in the regulations may be reinstated by the Board upon submission of satisfactory evidence that he is practicing in a competent manner and upon payment of the prescribed fee.

1987, c. 626, § 54-973; 1988, c. 765; 2002, c. 784; 2011, cc. 777, 859.

§ 54.1-2204. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2011, cc. 777 and 859, cl. 3, effective July 1, 2013.

§ 54.1-2205. License required; application; requirements for licensure; continuing education.

A. No person shall engage in, or offer to engage in, the practice of soil evaluation in the Commonwealth unless he has been licensed under the provisions of this chapter.

B. In order to be licensed as a professional soil scientist, an applicant shall:

1. Submit satisfactory evidence verified by affidavits that the applicant:

a. Is 18 years of age or older;

b. Is of good moral character; and

c. Has successfully completed such educational and experiential requirements as are required by this chapter and the regulations of the Board.

2. Achieve a score acceptable to the Board on an examination in the principles and practice of soil evaluation and satisfy one of the following criteria:

a. Hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution of higher education in a soils curriculum which has been approved by the Board and have at least four years of experience in soil evaluation, the quality of which demonstrates to the Board that the applicant is competent to practice as a professional soil scientist; or

b. Hold a bachelor's degree in one of the natural sciences and have at least five years of experience in soil evaluation, the quality of which demonstrates to the Board that the applicant is competent to practice as a professional soil scientist; or

c. Have a record of at least eight years of experience in soil evaluation, the quality of which demonstrates to the Board that the applicant is competent to practice as a professional soil scientist; or

d. Have at least four years of experience in soil science research or as a teacher of soils curriculum in an accredited institution of higher education which offers an approved four-year program in soils and at least two years of soil evaluation experience, the quality of which demonstrates to the Board that the applicant is competent to practice as a professional soil scientist.

C. The Board shall establish by regulation requirements for continuing education as a prerequisite to the maintenance and renewal of a license issued under this chapter, not to exceed eight contact hours per year.

D. Individuals applying for a license as a professional soil scientist between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2015, who (i) have been certified as professional soil scientists by the Board or (ii) have achieved a score set by the Board on the examination required by this section shall be licensed by the Board if all other requirements of this chapter or Board regulations have been met, unless an applicant is found by the Board to have engaged in any act that would constitute grounds for disciplinary action.

1987, c. 626, § 54-975; 1988, c. 765; 1991, c. 181; 2011, cc. 777, 859.

§ 54.1-2206. Waiver of examination.

A. The Board may waive the requirement for examination pursuant to § 54.1-2205 upon written application from an individual who holds an unexpired certificate or license, or its equivalent, issued by a regulatory body of another state, territory or possession of the United States and is not the subject of any disciplinary proceeding before such regulatory body which could result in the suspension or revocation of his certificate or license, if such other state, territory or possession recognizes the license issued by the Board.

B. The Board shall waive the requirement for examination pursuant to § 54.1-2206.2 upon the written application from an individual who holds an unexpired certificate or its equivalent issued by a regulatory body of another state, territory or possession of the United States or has been provisionally certified under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineator Certification Program of 1993 and is not the subject of any disciplinary proceeding before such regulatory body, which could result in the suspension or revocation of his certificate.

1987, c. 626, § 54-976; 1988, c. 765; 1991, c. 181; 2002, c. 784; 2003, c. 447; 2010, c. 91; 2011, cc. 777, 859.

§ 54.1-2206.1. Requirements for application for professional wetland delineator certification.

The Board may certify any applicant as a Virginia certified professional wetland delineator who has submitted satisfactory evidence verified by affidavits that the applicant:

1. Is eighteen years of age or older;

2. Is of good moral character; and

3. Has successfully completed such educational and experiential requirements as are required by this chapter and the regulations of the Board.

2002, c. 784.

§ 54.1-2206.2. Requirements for professional wetland delineator certification.

In order to be certified as a professional wetland delineator, an applicant shall achieve a score acceptable to the Board on an examination, which may include a field practicum, in the principles and practice of wetland delineation, provide three written references from wetland professionals with at least one from a certified professional wetland delineator, and satisfy one of the following criteria:

1. Hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution of higher education in a wetland science, biology, biological engineering, civil and environmental engineering, ecology, soil science, geology, hydrology or any similar biological, physical, natural science or environmental engineering curriculum that has been approved by the Board; have successfully completed a course of instruction, in state and federal wetland delineation methods, that has been approved by the Board; and have at least four years of experience in wetland delineation, the quality of which demonstrates to the Board that the applicant is competent to practice as a certified professional wetland delineator;

2. Have a record of at least six years of experience in wetland delineation, the quality of which demonstrates to the Board that the applicant is competent to practice as a certified professional wetland delineator; or

3. Have a record of at least four years of experience in wetland science research or as a teacher of wetlands curriculum in an accredited institution of higher education, the quality of which demonstrates to the Board that the applicant is competent to practice as a certified professional wetland delineator.

2002, c. 784; 2007, c. 334; 2013, c. 546.

§ 54.1-2207. Unprofessional conduct.

Any professional soil scientist who is licensed or any wetland delineator who is certified, as provided in this chapter, shall be considered guilty of unprofessional conduct and subject to disciplinary action by the Board, if he:

1. Obtains his certification or license through fraud or deceit;

2. Violates or cooperates with others in violating any provision of this chapter, the Code of Professional Ethics and Conduct or any regulation of the Board;

3. Performs any act likely to deceive, defraud or harm the public;

4. Demonstrates gross negligence, incompetence or misconduct in the practice of soil evaluation or wetland delineation; or

5. Is convicted of a felony.

1987, c. 626; 1988, c. 765; 2002, c. 784; 2011, cc. 777, 859.

§ 54.1-2208. Unlawful representation as a licensed professional soil scientist or certified wetland delineator.

A. No person shall represent himself as a licensed professional soil scientist unless he has been so licensed by the Board. Any person practicing or offering to practice soil evaluation within the meaning of this chapter who, through verbal claim, sign, advertisement, or letterhead, represents himself as a licensed professional soil scientist without holding a license from the Board shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

B. No person shall represent himself as a certified professional wetland delineator unless he has been so certified by the Board. Any person practicing or offering to practice wetland delineation within the meaning of this chapter who, through verbal claim, sign, advertisement, or letterhead, represents himself as a certified professional wetland delineator without holding such a certificate from the Board shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

1987, c. 626, § 54-971; 1988, c. 765; 2002, c. 784; 2011, cc. 777, 859.

Article 3. Geologists.

§ 54.1-2208.1. Exemptions.

A. The certification program set forth in this article is voluntary and shall not be construed to prevent or affect the practice of geology by uncertified geologists; however, no person may represent himself as a Virginia certified professional geologist unless he has been so certified by the Board.

B. This article shall not prevent or affect the practice of any profession or trade for which licensing, certification, or registration is required under any other Virginia law, including the practice of licensed professional engineers lawfully practicing engineering in its various specialized branches.

1981, c. 132, § 54-968; 1988, c. 765, § 54.1-1401; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 54.1-2208.2. Certification; minimum qualifications.

A. Any person practicing or offering to practice as a geologist or in a geological specialty in this Commonwealth may submit reasonable evidence to the Board that he is qualified to practice and to be certified as provided in this article. The Board shall approve the application for certification of any person who, in the opinion of the Board, has satisfactorily met the requirements of this article and who has paid any applicable fees fixed by the Board.

Certifications shall expire at intervals as designated by the Board. A certification may be renewed by the Board upon receipt of a formal request accompanied by any applicable fees.

B. To be eligible for certification as a professional geologist, an applicant shall meet each of the following minimum qualifications:

1. Be of ethical character.

2. Have a baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited institution of higher education with either a major in geology, engineering geology, geological engineering, or related geological sciences; or have completed at least 30 semester hours or the equivalent in geological science courses leading to a major in geology.

3. Have at least seven years of geological work that shall include either a minimum of three years of geological work under the supervision of a qualified or certified professional geologist or a minimum of three years of experience in responsible charge of geological work. The adequacy of the position and the required supervision and experience shall be determined by the Board in accordance with standards set forth in its regulations. The following criteria of education and experience qualify toward the required seven years of geological work:

a. Each year of full-time undergraduate study in the geological sciences shall count as one-half year of experience up to a maximum of two years, and each year of full-time graduate study shall count as a year of experience up to a maximum of three years. Credit for undergraduate and graduate study shall in no case exceed a total of four years toward meeting the requirements for at least seven years of geological work.

b. The Board may consider, in lieu of the above-described geological work, the cumulative total of geological work or geological research of persons occupying research or post-graduate positions as well as those teaching geology courses at an institution of higher education, provided such work or research can be demonstrated to be of a sufficiently responsible nature to be equivalent to the geological work required in this section.

4. Have successfully passed an appropriate examination approved by the Board and designed to demonstrate that the applicant has the necessary knowledge and skill to exercise the responsibilities of the public practice of geology.

At the discretion of the Board, separate examinations may be prepared for various subspecialities of geology; however, there will be no specialty certification, only certification as a professional geologist.

1981, c. 132, §§ 54-964, 54-965; 1984, c. 51; 1988, c. 765, § 54.1-1403; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 54.1-2208.3. Waiver of examination.

The Board may waive the examination requirement for certification as a professional geologist for an applicant who otherwise meets the requirements of this article and who also meets any of the following conditions:

1. Makes written application to the Board and has at least 12 years of geological work that includes the geological work as specified in subsection B of § 54.1-2208.2.

2. Makes written application to the Board and holds an unexpired certificate of registration, certification, or license to engage in the practice of geology issued to him on the basis of comparable requirements by a proper authority of a state, territory, or possession of the United States or the District of Columbia.

1981, c. 132, § 54-966; 1988, c. 765, § 54.1-1404; 1994, c. 247; 1996, c. 49; 2012, cc. 803, 835.

§ 54.1-2208.4. Professional ethics and conduct.

A. The Board, in coordination with an ad hoc panel of certified professional geologists convened by the Board and representing various geological interests in Virginia, shall have prepared and adopted a Code of Professional Ethics and Conduct that shall be published and made known in writing to every Virginia certified professional geologist and applicant for certification under this article. The Board may revise and amend this code as needed and shall forthwith notify each certified professional geologist in writing of such revisions or amendments.

B. The full Board, by majority vote, shall have the power to suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew the certification of any professional geologist who, after an appropriate formal hearing, is found to have been involved in:

1. Any fraud or deceit in obtaining certification;

2. Any violation of the Code of Professional Ethics and Conduct or other regulations of the Board;

3. Demonstrated gross negligence, incompetence, or misconduct in the practice of geology as a professional geologist; or

4. Any conviction of a felony which, in the opinion of the Board, would adversely affect the practice of geology.

C. The Board, by majority vote of the quorum, may reinstate a revoked or suspended certification to any professional geologist who makes written application to the Board showing good cause for such action.

1981, c. 132, § 54-967; 1988, c. 765, § 54.1-1405; 2012, cc. 803, 835.