natural-resources

PROJECT SPOTLIGHT

Impacting Bats, Impacting Business

Atwell’s Midwest natural resources team has developed a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to protect a national wind energy developer and the native Indiana Bat, listed federally as an endangered species. Because the bat is found in the region of the developer’s project site, these plans were produced to enter into consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to obtain an Incidental Take Permit, which protects a client in the event an on-site take occurs.

Making use of intensive biological studies and research activities, the HCP aims to model activity and implement innovative conservation strategies that address seasonal roosting and migration timetables, ideal production schedules and project economics. The process itself helped the client to understand species activity on the site, identify conservation actions for implementation and ensure the project remains financially viable considering those actions. It is also a risk management tool for preventing legal action by the federal government in an early stage of the development process.


Regional Wetland Mitigation-Area Planning

Atwell performed a 100-acre wetland mitigation feasibility analysis to determine current site conditions and the potential success of the site as a regional wetland mitigation area. Our staff biologists delivered a complete suite of services, including:

  • A comprehensive assessment of existing upland, wetland, woodland, open and agricultural fields to determine past uses and historic community types
  • Identification and mapping of ecological community types utilizing GPS
  • Assessments of stream geomorphology
  • Determination of water budget for possible wetland areas
  • Performance of a Floristic Quality Analysis (FQA) to evaluate vegetative quality
  • Assistance in gaining approvals from state and local regulatory agencies
  • Atwell also performed a survey and habitat assessment for state-designated threatened and endangered species. Based on the site inventory, the team identified mitigation options including areas of wetland creation, invasive species control areas, riparian enhancement, and preservation of existing high-quality woodlands. The team also outlined areas for state and local easements and placement of public access trails and interpretative signs. Additionally, Atwell provided wetland mitigation planting oversight and currently monitors the mitigated wetlands on site.


Archaeological Survey and Excavations

Atwell conducted preliminary archaeological field investigations in anticipation of a 131-mile natural gas pipeline with a 100-foot-wide project right-of-way in western Oklahoma. The archaeological team consulted with the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey and the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office to conduct background research and establish high-probability areas for field investigations, resulting in 873 acres being investigated by archaeological field crews.

Atwell’s investigations were designed to identify, inventory and evaluate cultural resources in the project’s Area of Potential Effect (APE) to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and its implementing regulations (36 Code of Federal Regulations CFR Part 800). Despite harsh climatic conditions, client reroutes and a tight deadline, the project was completed ahead of schedule.