June 14, 2016
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:
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.Leave a comment
June 2, 2016
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.
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June 1, 2016
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.
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
April 25, 2016
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.Leave a comment
April 21, 2016
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.Leave a comment
March 30, 2016
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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March 18, 2016
DENVER, CO – Spend the afternoon at the Denver Botanic Garden’s (DBG) York Street site, and attend the Urban Ecological Design + Restoration Symposium, presented by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Central Rockies Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration (CeRSER), and DBG.
Tim Hoelzle, Vice President of Technical Services at Great Ecology, will will act as emcee for the symposium, which will feature presentations and a panel discussion by Marion Hourdequin, Keith Bowers, and Rick Bachand.
Hourdequin is an associate professor of philosophy at Colorado College. Her work focuses on the ethics of global climate change and on the social and ethical dimensions of ecological restoration. Bowers has employed principles of applied ecology and land conservation to build a practice focused on regenerative design–a model that respects Earth’s ecological limits, heals damaged ecological processes, integrates green infrastructure, and catalyzes mutually beneficial relationships with the land. Bachand is the Environmental Program Manager with the City of Fort Collins, Colorado Natural Areas Department and is a leading expert in public land management who is widely recognized for his award-winning efforts to restore the Poudre River in Fort Collins.
The symposium takes place on March 31, 2016 and runs from 1:00PM-5:30PM. It will be followed by a happy hour reception, lasting until 7:30PM.
After March 23, registration will only be accepted on site: $45 for members; $60 for non-members; and $30 for students. Registration includes admission to the botanic gardens, 2 drink tickets, and light snacks.Leave a comment
February 10, 2016
Great Ecology was selected as the prime ecological consultants to help the San Diego Unified Port District (Port) establish and operate a wetlands mitigation bank on Pond 20, an undeveloped site in South San Diego, California. Commissioned by the Port, the mitigation bank is part one of a three part development plan for the 95-acre Pond 20 site.
The highly publicized project has been in development for almost two decades and included extensive stakeholder outreach to solicit public feedback and concept ideas. Located adjacent to the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, commercial and residential developments, and on Palm Avenue’s “gateway to South San Diego County’s beaches”, the project goals balance ecological, economic, and community needs. Following the approval of the three part development plan in July 2015, the wetland mitigation banking RFP was released in October 2015. The first phase is currently underway and is led by Great Ecology.
Headquartered in San Diego, CA, Great Ecology is excited to bring the firm’s strong mitigation banking and habitat restoration expertise to the high profile project. Great Ecology’s in-depth understanding of the mitigation banking process from concept to credit sale is enhanced by the firm’s experience working as consultants for various mitigation banking companies nationwide. As the prime consultant, Great Ecology is currently conducting an in-depth feasibility study for the site which is scheduled to be completed in spring 2016 and will provide the Port information to move the project forward.
Great Ecology assembled a robust project team including RECON, ESA, and AES. The project team is led by Great Ecology President and Founder, Dr. Mark S. Laska, and is supported by Director of Ecology, Nick Buhbe. For over 20 years, Dr. Laska has provided ecological consulting expertise on projects nationwide with a focus on mitigation banking and habitat restoration. Deputy Project Manager, Nick Buhbe, brings extensive local experience, having worked in Southern California and California for over 20 years.
For more information and to sign up for project updates visit the Port’s Pond 20 website.Leave a comment
February 8, 2016
Great Ecology is pleased to announce Dr. Ioana Petrisor has been awarded the AEHS Foundation Achievement Award. This is the seventh year for the award program, which recognizes individuals for significant contributions to the environmental field as well as outstanding environmental stewardship. The award will be presented to Dr. Petrisor at the 26th Annual International Conference on Soil, Energy, Water, and Air.
Dr. Petrisor is a biochemist with 22 years of experience (both in academia and industry), specializing in environmental forensics and litigation support. She has helped both national and international clients to recover costs in complex contamination cases involving multiple contaminants (both organic and inorganic) and releases in time and space. Dr. Petrisor is the Editor-in-Chief of the Environmental Forensics Journal. She has extensive publication experience with an invention patent, a text book, 6 book chapters, 12 editorials, and over 70 research and review articles.Leave a comment
January 14, 2016
Great Ecology is proud to announce that Tim Hoelzle, VP of Technical Services at Great Ecology, has been named Vice President/President Elect of the Central Rockies Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration (CeRSER). Tim previously served on CeRSER’s board of directors as Treasurer, and will officially transition to his new position in January 2016.
CeRSER is a regional chapter of SER serving the states of Colorado and Wyoming, whose mission is to foster ecological restoration awareness, understanding and activity among a range of participants.
Tim Hoelzle specializes in the restoration and enhancement of underutilized sites across the United States, as well as in the reclamation and remediation of lands disturbed through mining and energy extraction. His expertise also includes wetland and stream restoration, invasive species management, soil microbial community evaluations, environmental permitting, and Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR). He holds a Master’s degree in Rangeland Ecosystem Science and a Bachelor’s degree in Rangeland Ecology with a focus on Restoration Ecology from Colorado State University.
Great Ecology congratulates Tim on his elected position!Leave a comment