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We provide an array of biological support and problem solving capabilities to assist public and private sector clients. Our professional team includes experienced biologists, botanists, wetland scientists, ecological risk assessment specialists, engineers and geologists who conduct flora and fauna surveys (common and special-status species), prepare natural resources management plans, and provide environmental planning and regulatory compliance assistance and monitoring. We help clients with concept design, permitting assistance, mitigation planning, and construction mitigation monitoring through completion of projects. SCS tailors client services to fit the scale and specific needs of individual projects from individual lots to large multi-acre projects.
The SCS Biology team is experienced with local, state, and federal regulatory processes, providing professional expertise in preparation of environmental documents supporting client projects.
Our professional staff holds a variety of degrees in related subjects: Environmental Management, Forest Resources with Emphasis on Wildlife Biology, Range and Wildlife Management with Wildlife Management Emphasis, Natural Resources Planning and Interpretation, with complementary Minors and training certificates including Watershed Management, Biology, Fluvial Geomorphology, Geologic applications to botany and biology, and Soil Science.
Highlights of SCS experience and capabilities are summarized below.
SCS performs wetland delineations in variety of jurisdictions and in a variety of wetland habitat types including: tidal salt and freshwater wetlands; non-tidal seasonal wetlands; vernal pools; and freshwater marshes amongst many others.
Wetland, Riparian, and Upland Habitat Revegetation and Restoration Planning
Often associated with long-term cattle over-grazing, legacy and current timber harvesting, and mining practices, our habitat reclamation expertise emphasizes utilizing native vegetation, minimally intrusive soil stabilization techniques, and sedimentation and erosion control.
Reforestation, Watershed Restoration, and Erosion Abatement Recovery Programs
Similar to wetland, riparian, or upland habitat restoration, SCS uses the same approach for forest vegetation and habitat, and watershed restoration using a variety of techniques tailored to meet the specific needs of projects, for instance - this may include combining native vegetation as well as manmade materials for stream bank erosion control and rehabilitation.
Vegetation Fuel Loading Assessments and Management Recommendations
Whether completely in wildlands, or at the wildland/urban interface, our trained staff will come on-site and assess existing vegetation layers in terms of potential fire fuels [grass/duff layer (ground fuels), vines/shrub component (ladder fuels), mature tree spacing (crown fuels)], and provide our client with specific management recommendations to minimize fire hazards for their project and protecting the existing habitat.
Tree Grove Health Diagnosis, Hazard Tree Evaluations, and Treatment Recommendations
A Certified Arborist will come on-site to evaluate and provide recommendations for grove up-keep and maintenance while allowing for retention of shade trees, wind row protection, or decorative inner-city park trees.
Planned Community Development Tree Planting Programs
SCS works with public agencies, private land developers, and industrial facility operators from conception to project completion providing suitable landscape scale and site specific species recommendations.
Baseline Botanical Inventories
These basic inventories are used to gather information on plant species prior to entering the planning phase of projects to identify areas or plants that may require mitigation and or preservation. These inventories provide valuable information often saving our client’s time, effort and funds by identifying sensitive issues at their projects early in the planning and permitting process.
Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Plant Protocol Surveys and Assessments
Surveys often associated with or required by Federal or State Endangered Species Acts are performed with specific survey protocols as related to minimize impact to protected species and identifying areas where mitigation may be required for protection of federally or state listed species that may be present at client projects.
Required On-site Special Status Species Mitigation Monitoring
Qualified staff is supplied for on-site construction monitoring specifically for special status habitats in the active work area using flag or avoidance setback techniques or “buffering” as required to mitigate potential impacts.
Special Status Plants/Communities GPS Mapping for Avoidance
SCS uses state of the art GPS and GIS for special status plant species and special habitats (e.g. wetlands, riparian areas) at client projects for mitigation planning to support projects.
Pre-construction Clearance Surveys
These surveys may be required by local, state, or federal agencies before actual ground disturbance activities begin, documenting the absence of, or for buffering of, special status species to avoid direct impacts that may delay client projects.
Plant Community Evaluations
Many habitats and plant communities are recognized as sensitive by various resource agencies. These agencies may require pre-construction evaluations for mitigation planning. SCS staff provides evaluations for our clients in support of projects.
Vegetation Mapping and Analysis for Riparian Restoration
Often utilized at the watershed level, SCS provides this service to evaluate encroachment by non-native invasive plants, areas of varying moisture, and relative health of native riparian vegetation.
Baseline Wildlife Resources Inventories
We use these basic inventories to gather information on wildlife species present to provide evaluations important in the early planning process to identify areas that may require special attention or mitigation in support of client projects.
Small Mammal Trapping
These surveys can be conducted associated with baseline inventories for general species accounting, preliminary species density estimates, and for specific presence or absence determinations.
Threatened, Endangered, Sensitive (TES) Wildlife Species Protocol level Surveys
Surveys often associated with federal or state Endangered Species Acts (ESA) that are performed with specific survey protocol as may be required for mitigation or protection of federally or state listed TES species and/or habitat that may be in the project vicinity.
Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) Pre-construction Surveys and Construction Monitoring
These surveys are conducted to insure no shared international migratory birds, eggs, or nests are negatively impacted by project activities though forward mitigation planning.
Special Status Species Habitat/Nesting GPS/GIS Mapping and Analysis
We use the Global Positioning System (GPS) combined with Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping for analysis of special nesting, denning, or foraging habitat for mitigation planning to support client projects.
Pre-construction Raptor Nesting Surveys
These surveys are often seasonally associated with the MBTA or otherwise regarding locally sensitive species to establish active nest site location for buffering mitigation if required during project activities.
Required On-site Special Status Species Mitigation Monitoring
Qualified staff is supplied to support on-site construction specifically to safeguard special status species (e.g., desert tortoise, burrowing owl, Western snowy plover, etc) known to be in the project vicinity and as required to mitigate potential impacts allowing projects to proceed in an efficient and cost effective manner while protecting sensitive species and habitat.
SCS employs a variety of techniques, including revegetation and bank cribbing, which are designed to imitate natural cover of an undercut stream bank. These techniques enhance bank stability, protecting the stream bank from future erosion, and also enhance stream and streamside habitat.
Streambed Evaluation of suitable Spawning Gravel and Redd Construction
These basic inventories are used to gather information used to evaluate existing streambed conditions. Once completed the data is analyzed to determine appropriate actions necessary to restore (or leave alone) a stream to suitable spawning conditions.
Our professionals hold numerous Professional Certifications and Licenses. We stay current of the latest regulatory changes through continuing specialized training and education, and attending relevant conferences and workshops. We assist clients with the complex permits and environmental documents required by the various agencies associated with their projects:
State of California
CEQA - California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is a statute requiring state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts if feasible. CEQA is a equivalent interpretation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Most proposals for physical development (defined by CEQA as a “Project”) in California are subject to the provisions of CEQA requiring an Initial Study, or depending on the potential effects, Negative Declaration (ND), Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND), or Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
CESA - California Endangered Species Act prohibits any person from "taking" endangered or threatened bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant species (or subspecies), including California Native Plant Society (CNPS) List 1 and 2, native to California and to conserve, protect, restore, and enhance said species and habitats. The project then requires research to determine if any special-status wildlife or plants have the potential to be present on site. If so, must conduct surveys according to CDFG and/or US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) protocol to determine presence or absence on site.
CDFG - California Department of Fish and Game may be the lead agency for CEQA and CESA review. CDFG Code 1600 Streambed Alteration Agreement (SAA) is required for any modification of stream or lake bed and bank. A CESA 2081 permit is required to authorize the Incidental Take of listed species.
RWQCB - Regional Water Quality Control Board requires a Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Water Qualification Certification or Waiver for discharges to Waters of the State.
CCC - Californian Coastal Commission primary mission is to plan for and regulate land and water uses in the Coastal Zone consistent with the policies of the California Coastal Act (CCA). Any new development proposed in the Coastal Zone unless exempt requires a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) from the CCC.
NEPA - National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies integrate environmental values in their decision making processes by considering environmental impacts of proposed actions with reasonable alternatives to those actions. If it is uncertain whether there will be significant impacts, an Environmental Assessment is prepared. If it is evident there are no significant impacts associated with the project, a Finding of no Significant Impact (FONSI) may be prepared. At any point in the process of preparing or processing an EA, it is discovered the project would result in significant impacts to the environment, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be prepared.
ESA - Endangered Species Act is to conserve the ecosystems upon which TES species depend and to conserve and recover listed species. All Federal agencies are required to protect listed species and preserve their habitat. The project then requires research to determine if any special status wildlife or plants have the potential to be present on-site. If so, must conduct surveys according to FWS and/or state protocol determining presence/absence on-site and analyze if impacts may occur to their habitat.
USFWS - US Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead agency for ESA review. If a Biological Assessment is produced addressing listed species associated with the proposed project area, based on findings FWS issues “No Effect” or “Not Likely to Affect” letter. If Section 7 Consultation is required and a Biological Opinion written, can issue ESA Section 10 Incidental Take permit for listed species, associated with Habitat Conservation Plans.
USACOE - US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) administers Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for the protection and management of the nation's jurisdictional waters and wetlands. Wetlands are defined by the CWA as "areas inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.” The ACOE jurisdictional definition of a wetland area is based on the presence or absence of three criteria: hydric soils, hydric vegetation, and hydrology. Any dredge or fill material deposited in jurisdictional waters or wetlands that result in permanent or temporary losses of Waters of the United States (Waters of the US) require an Individual or Nationwide Permit.
NPDES - National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program as set forth by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended by the Clean Water Act of 1977, Section 402, controls water pollution by regulating point source discharge pollutants into waters of the US. Industrial, Municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their water discharges go directly to surface waters of the US through conveyances such as municipal storm drains or man-made flood control ditches.
Our staff has a broad range of background experience in applying their individual, as well as collective, specialized education and skills in Biological and Planning support of client projects:
DG Power Company Wetland Mitigation Monitoring, Samoa, CA.
SCS personnel provided wetland mitigation monitoring services for a power generation facility. We conducted a 5 year follow-up monitoring of an onsite wetland mitigation area to evaluate mitigation success. Prepared and submitted a summary report evaluating the site conditions and mitigation success to the applicable resource agencies.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Raptor Nesting Surveys, Special Status Plant Surveys. Williams Petroleum and Barrett Resources, Piceance Basin, Roan Plateau, CO.
Our biologist conducted BLM required surveys for raptor nesting activity and special status plant presence surveys using GPS mapping for avoidance ahead of active seismic surveys. Prepared the summary of findings report with management recommendations.
Vegetation Management Oversight, Electrical Transmission Line Corridor, San Mateo County Department of Parks and Recreation, San Bruno Mountain, CA.
Were responsible for supervision and oversight of all transmission line vegetation management within the corridor on San Bruno Mountain which is critical habitat of the Mission blue butterfly.
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Biological Surveys, Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP), City of San Diego, CA.
As required by CEQA, and in compliance with the City of San Diego’s MSHCP, biological surveys were conducted according to established protocols for project biological support.
California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) Construction Monitoring, Section 1600 SAA, Level (3) Communications, Central Valley California.
As part of overall biological and environmental support, biologists monitored compliance with the SAA mitigation measures as stipulated to support construction of the 140 mile fiber optic cable installation.
US Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) and CCC, Wetland Delineations, Private Developer, Humboldt County, CA.
In accordance with the California Coastal Act, the CWA, and Sec. 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, ACOE and CCC wetland delineations were conducted to determine the extent, and if any, waters of the state, and/or waters of the US occurring on-site would be lost by proposed project activities.
Streambank Restoration, Special Habitat Exclosure, and Erosion Control Management, Redwood Park, Humboldt County CA.
As part of a past harvesting rehabilitation project, placement of large organic debris as well as geotextile material was utilized for streambank stabilization and future erosion control. Denuded streambanks were replanted with native vegetation species, and willow fencing was used as cattle and elk exclusions to protect the riparian vegetation along portions of the creek in Redwood Park, Humboldt County, CA.
National Environmental Quality Act (NEPA), Environmental Assessment Document, Animal Damage Control, Timber Reforestation Support, US Forest Service, Deschutes National Forest.
In accordance with NEPA requirements and the Deschutes National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP), an Environmental Assessment document was prepared to support proposed measures needed for animal damage control with regard to gopher, porcupine, and big game damage to Forest timber regeneration units on National Forest Lands in central Oregon.
Biological Assessment Document, Compliant with the City of Santa Paula, CA.
In order to facilitate the CEQA review process, a Biological Assessment was prepared for project area analysis and mitigation planning support.
Vegetation Fuel Load Reduction Oversight, Electrical Transmission Line Corridor, San Francisco Water Department (SFWD).
Were responsible for planning and oversight of intensive vegetation fuel load reduction within the forested corridor of the transmission line right of way of Crystal Springs Reservoir for the SFWD.
BLM, Migratory Bird Ground Nesting and Burrowing Owl Surveys, Magnolia Switchyard Construction, Nevada Power Company (NPC), Las Vegas Valley, NV.
In compliance with the MBTA, migratory bird ground nesting and burrowing owl surveys, as required by the BLM, were conducted to support construction of the NPC Switchyard. Prepared the summary of findings report with management recommendations.
Biological Resources Section, Environmental Impact Report, City of Thousand Oaks, CA.
In accordance with CEQA requirements, and the City of Thousand Oaks, as part of the Environmental Impact Report, a Biological Resources Section was prepared addressing biological resources on site with emphasis on the validity of a proposed wildlife travel corridor on the wildland/urban interface.
California Energy Commission (CEC), CDFG, Burrowing Owl Surveys, Salton Sea Unit 6 Geothermal Power Plant, Calipatria, CA.
Our biologist conducted CEC and CDFG required pre-activity burrowing owl breeding surveys ahead of construction. Prepared the summary of findings report.
ACOE Wetland Delineation Reports, Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Projects.
To support GDOT projects throughout the state, in accordance with the Clean Water Act (CWA), and Sec. 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, biologist conducted wetland delineations to determine the extent, and if any, losses of waters of the US would occur by proposed transportation projects.
Big River, Redwood Creek, and Mattole River Watershed Assessments
An interdisciplinary assessment of upland, riparian and in-stream conditions using GIS mapping and analyses to prepare an assessment of the watersheds in relation to Salmonid population decline. Documents prepared to be utilized for stream and watershed restoration efforts.