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Corktown Common Receives ASLA Honor Award

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Great Ecology, as part of the Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates team, for Corktown Common, a park in Toronto, Ontario, was honored with a 2016 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Honor Award, in the general design category.

The park is situated on a brownfield, and flooding from the Don River threatened to infiltrate up to 519 acres of Toronto. The park was redesigned to act as a flood barrier and within this design, which incorporates a variety of green infrastructure techniques, are various microclimatic plant zones—including marshes and meadows—intended to attract people and animals throughout the year.

The regenerative ecology of the park specifically serves as a landing point for migratory birds within the urban hardscape; facilitates biofilitration of wastewater that is later used for irrigation; and provides a hub for pollinators.

About the design, the 2016 Awards Jury said:

“A nice design. It’s the anchor of a new neighborhood that’s being constructed. The park is the first gesture. Where before there was nothing, this is now a nicely detailed, ecologically rich area.”

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Tellurium Partners launched by Great Ecology and EnviroFinance Group

Partnership Results in New Ecological Mitigation Banking Company Tellurium Partners launched by Great Ecology and EnviroFinance Group

DENVER, CO (August 19, 2016) – Tellurium Partners is an ecological resource conservation and mitigation firm that specializes in developing strategic mitigation banking opportunities by leveraging our broad experience in ecology and real estate.

Tellurium Partners’ mission is to restore and conserve wetlands and natural habitats, while providing public agencies and private parties a method for complying with governmental requirements for the disturbance of ecological resources.

Tellurium Partners is a Public Benefit Corporation, and as such has within its primary mission the creation of positive social and environmental impacts. “By creating ecological mitigation banks and selling compensatory mitigation credits, Tellurium Partners can achieve its mission of conserving and developing the nation’s ecological resources,” says co-founder and Managing Partner Eric Williams.

Tellurium Partners is the product of a partnership between Great Ecology, an ecological restoration firm, and EnviroFinance Group, a land reuse and redevelopment firm. Both companies opened in 2001.

“The companies’ histories of effective natural resource conservation, mitigation, and redevelopment allows us to hit the ground running,” says co-founder and Managing Partner Dr. Mark Laska.

Visit www.TelluriumParnters.com or contact Founders Eric Williams (Eric@TelluriumPartners.com; 303.521.5805) or Dr. Mark Laska (Mark@TelluriumPartners.com; 858.750.3201).

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Welcome Randy Mandel to the Great Ecology Team

“Events have been set in motion whose echo will be heard a thousand or more generations from now.” – J. Valor, Salome

Great Ecology is pleased to announce Randy Mandel, who has more than 32 years of experience as a restoration ecologist and applied plant scientist, has joined our team. His passion for ecological restoration was inspired by a love of the outdoors and a deep desire to be part of the solution.

Randy’s expertise includes wetland, riparian, rangeland, desert, and forest ecologies; plant taxonomy and synonymy; restoration/reclamation project design, layout, and implementation; site assessment and monitoring; site-specific seed collection; native plant propagation and cultivation; wetland delineation; wetland mitigation banking; threatened and endangered species surveys; and the integration of native species into traditional and modern landscape design. His work has been featured on Aspen Public Radio.

Randy says he was attracted to Great Ecology because of the “presence of kindred individuals on-staff who, together, would be wonderful to help create projects of lasting value, benefit, and that further collective knowledge.”

Randy’s recent publications include Searchable River Revegetation Guide for Colorado and Living Streambanks: A Manual of Bioengineering Treatments for Colorado Streams, available from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Water Conservation Board.

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In addition to his work as a restoration ecologist and applied plant scientist, Randy also keeps an orchard, which includes apricots, pears, and plums, among other fruit-bearing trees, and he has a passion for native bees. His passion for native bees is derived from:

  • Seeking, and working to foster, ecological resiliency from a healthy ecological matrix that incorporates diverse species and habitats;
  • The knowledge that successful restoration is dependent upon a diverse and sustainable population of pollinators—and that sustainable pollinator populations are dependent on vigorous and diverse native plant communities; and
  • A desire to increase the fecundity of ecological functions and services for the totality of biota and their abiotic surroundings.

We are thrilled for the chance to share in his knowledge and passion, and proudly welcome Randy to the Great Ecology team.

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Dr. Laska Joins the San Diego Coastkeeper’s Board of Directors

Great Ecology is pleased to announce that its President and Founder, Mark S. Laska, PhD has joined the Board of Directors for San Diego Coastkeeper. San Diego Coastkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore fishable, swimmable, and drinkable waters in San Diego County.

The organization aims to do this through innovative and collaborative partnerships with community members and businesses in San Diego. They address root issues impacting water systems, base their decisions on best available information, and provide the public with the rationale for their decision and actions in a straightforward way that works to increase the level of public discourse about important water issues.

Dr. Laska says about Coastkeeper: “I am impressed by what they can accomplish with very limited funding. It is admirable that this organization is working so hard to hold all our feet to the fire so that we can maintain clean water, suitable habitat, and healthy ecosystems thriving in San Diego and beyond.”

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EPA’s Environmental Justice Strategic Plan

In May, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its draft EJ 2020 Action Agenda: Environmental Justice Strategic Plan 2016-2020. The plan is available for review and public comment until July 7, 2016.

By 2020, the EPA envisions itself to be an agency that integrates environmental justice into all of its actions, while cultivating strong partnerships with a variety of stakeholders, and charting the course for achieving decreased disparities in the nation’s overburdened communities. The EPA plans to achieve this through three goals:

  1. Deepening environmental justice practice within agency programs to improve the health and environment of overburdened communities;
  2. Developing and maintaining partnerships to expand the agency’s positive impact within overburdened communities; and
  3. Demonstrating progress on known environmental justice challenges, with a specific focus on lead disparities, drinking water quality, air quality, and hazardous waste sites.

Achieving these goals relies on a multi-faceted team approach that includes working with multiple stakeholders, including, but not limited to, state and local government partners; community-based organizations and tribal leadership; and working groups focused on specific issues (such as the presence of heavy metals in drinking water).

In addition to this draft strategic plan, the EPA is working toward environmental justice through its Environmental Justice Academy, launched by EPA Region 4. The purpose of the academy is to “better equip community leaders to address health and environmental challenges.” The academy provides nine months of in-depth leadership programming, and encourages participants to develop skills that will help them identify and address environmental challenges in their communities. Program such as the Environmental Justice Academy is a step in helping the EPA achieve the second goal of its 2020 strategic plan. The environmental justice academy’s first class completed the program this May.

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Dr. Laska Appointed to the National Mitigation Banking Association’s Board of Directors

President and Founder of Great Ecology, Mark S. Laska, Ph.D., has been appointed to the Board of Directors for the National Mitigation Banking Association (NMBA). The NMBA, established in 1998, is the only industry-appointed foundation of mitigation bankers in the US. It is dedicated to restoring and conserving America’s wetlands, streams, habitats, and other resources. The NMBA encourages advanced compensatory mitigation as a way to offset adverse impacts to our nation’s environment through promoting federal legislation, regulatory policy, and education.

Dr. Laska said, “I have been a participant in the mitigation banking world for over a decade and I am delighted and honored to provide service to the Board of the NMBA and help the organization and its stakeholders achieve success in this new and exciting time in the sector.”

As the founder of Great Ecology, Dr. Laska brings over 25 years of industry experience and ecological design expertise to the distinguished board. He noted that this is an incredibly exciting time in the industry, because of the recent presidential memo that encourages private investment and the application of environmental credit systems in many new arenas. There is also an emerging market for a variety of environmental credits, including natural resource damages, water quality, and habitat banking.

Great Ecology provides a full range of services that support liability reduction and mitigation activities, including business planning, strategy, design, permitting, construction, and site closure.

Theodore Roosevelt NP

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Great Ecology Designs Featured on ASLA Blog

Great Ecology’s designs are featured in a recent post focused on ecological design, over at The Field: ASLA Professional Practice Networks’ blog. The article originally appeared in the 2015 Colorado Design Journal.

Chis Loftus, a landscape architect who has worked closely with Great Ecology, notes that many landscape architecture firms are collaborating closely with ecologists—and that some have even added ecologists to their payrolls. This structure is how Great Ecology was designed. We are a firm that has a 15-year history of putting landscape architects, planners, and ecologists in the same room to work on projects that will meet our clients’ diverse needs while creating ecological lift in the environment.

Loftus lists some of the models ecologists use to predict the outcome of a particular set of ecological conditions, which help ecologists (and the designers they work with!) create or develop restoration plans for habitats that will thrive.

However, Loftus is a realist: he knows that many projects lack the necessary resources to complete a rigorous scientific analysis. He urges landscape architects to apply the core principles of the ecological approach to help ensure the successful establishment of a functional habitat.

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Landscape architects can help communicate the restoration potential of a site. A rendering depicts proposed improvements including native revegetation, constructed wetlands, and public access amenities at a former industrial site.
image: Great Ecology

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Economic Impacts of Ecological Restoration

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How do you generate between $2.2 and $3.4 million in total economic output? Invest $1 million in ecosystem restoration, according to a new study released earlier this month by the US Geological Survey (USGS).

Economists employed by USGS reviewed and evaluated 21 restoration projects backed by the Department of the Interior and found that for every dollar invested in ecological restoration there was a two- to three- fold impact on economic activity at the local, state, and federal levels. Every $1 million invested in restoration also creates between 13-32 job years – which can have a significant, and lasting, impact on a community.

The analysis looked at a wide range of ecological restoration projects, ranging from sagebrush and sage grouse habitat restoration to wetland and tidal marsh restoration to post-fire restoration projects – all projects that aim to provide a number of “ecosystem services,” which often have an under-appreciated function in our economy, and are also important for the environment.

What does this all mean? In short: investing in ecological restoration supports jobs and livelihoods, small businesses, and rural communities – something which can be part of the narrative told by businesses, governments, and others investing in ecological restoration.

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Emily Callahan Honored at Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards

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Great Ecology is pleased to announce that Emily Callahan, one of our ecologists, will be recognized at the Tribeca Film Festival during the 7th annual Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards. The event takes place tomorrow, April 22, at 11:00am. According to the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards website, “The goal of the awards is to share insights into innovation to help solve some of the world’s most intractable problems.”

Emily will be honored alongside Amber Jackson, her co-founder of Blue Latitudes, an organization whose mission is to “unite science, policy, and economics to create innovative solutions for the complex ecological challenges associated with offshore structures.” In short, the work they do involves turning oil rigs into reefs. Rigs-to-Reefs allows an oil company to choose to modify a platform so that it can continue to support marine life as an artificial reef, which has been shown to increase biomass and attract additional marine species to the site.

Artificial reefs created from decommissioned oil rigs have the potential to facilitate artificial biodiversity, which can help mitigate marine ecosystem losses due to manmade stressors, including: pollution, overfishing, mining, coastal development, and climate change. This mitigation work to support of marine ecosystems may be especially important as human activities continue to impact marine ecosystems.

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VP of Great Ecology to Speak on Habitat Mitigation at SER Northwest Next Week & Has a New Publication

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Tim Hoelzle, Vice President of Great Ecology, is slated to present on Habitat Equivalency Analysis (HEA) at the Society for Ecological Restoration Northwest’s (SER NW) regional conference in Portland, Oregon next week. The talk, “Increasing Federal Focus on Regulatory Mitigation: Is Habitat Equivalency Analysis the Answer?” will explore recent presidential memoranda, and Department of Interior orders, related to mitigation and ecosystem services, as well as look at several case studies of HEA in application. Check out his talk at the SER NW Conference, in the Multnomah Room, at 1:30 PM PDT. The session is titled: Strategic Planning of Ecological Restoration.

Tim will discuss how HEA can be applied outside of Natural Resource Damage and Restoration (NRDAR) frameworks to meet recent goals laid out by the US Department of the Interior and Presidential Memoranda that focus on habitat mitigation and ecosystem services. HEA acknowledges that when a site is impacted, it loses a portion of its total ecological services over space and time. Restoration of the site balances the human and ecological impacts with the benefits of ecological recovery, including lost ecological function and ecosystem services.

But, how do we know that a habitat has recovered?

Tim has an answer for that, too. He is an author of a recent publication on habitat monitoring of contaminated environments. The paper, “Integrated Risk and Recovery Monitoring of Ecosystem Restorations on Contaminated Sites,” stemmed from a 2014 Technical Workshop organized by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) and SER.

This article appeared as one of six articles in a series titled, “Restoration of Impaired Ecosystems: An Ounce of Prevention or a Pound of Cure?” This open access series is a collaboration between industry, government, the private sector, and academia, and appeared in Volume 12.2 of Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management.

Great Ecology specializes in restoration, planning, and design of both natural and urban environments through sustainable solutions. The company integrates science with design to solve complex ecological challenges to achieve environmental, social, and business goals. Reach out to Tim to learn more.

 

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