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Project Update: Colorado Emergency Watershed Protection

As we move into the final month of the year, it’s time to offer an update on our work with the Colorado Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) project. This emergency recovery work is being completed in response to the devastating September 2013 floods, which impacted counties across Colorado’s Front Range. The program provides financial and technical support to community-based project sponsors to reduce erosion and impacts from future flooding, protect streambanks, remove debris, and more.

Great Ecology is working with state and federal agencies, counties, design teams, watershed coordinators, and landowners in order to design revegetation plans for 46 EWP projects. We have completed initial revegetation plans for 23 sites, and installation has started on 2 of those sites, which included overseeing approximately 445 volunteers who participated in planting days as part of the revegetation efforts. In addition to the 46 revegetation plans, Great Ecology is on the Technical Assistance Team and providing design reviews for the remaining 29 EWP projects. Great Ecology is also providing oversight and developing protocols to the Colorado State Forest Service Nursery for collection and propagation of ecotypic native plants to be used for revegetating all 75 EWP projects.










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Great Ecology Welcomes Chris Loftus!

Great Ecology is pleased to welcome Chris Loftus, RLA (back) to Great Ecology! Chris has worked on projects throughout Colorado and the West, including several award-winning designs. His past project experience includes planning and design of parks, trails, and open space; neighborhood and community master planning; innovative stormwater design solutions; urban streetscape design; and ecological restoration. Chris will collaborate with Great Ecology’s ecologists, designers, and planners to provide regenerative ecological design solutions for a variety of project types and scales.

He serves as Vice President of Programs for the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Colorado Chapter and on the Ecology + Restoration Professional Practice Network (ASLA) leadership team. He is a member of the Colorado Riparian Association, the Colorado Native Plant Society, and is a Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB) Certified Landscape Architect.

Chris holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies from University or Oregon and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Colorado State University.

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Great Ecology to Attend the First Green Business Forum for Asia and the Pacific


The following information is from the ADB Calendar of Events.


This November, ADB will host its first Green Business Forum for Asia and the Pacific (GBF). The GBF brings together experts, business practitioners, and key stakeholders to share knowledge and identify avenues for promoting green business solutions in the region.

The GBF aims to provide a platform for knowledge sharing and lessons learning on the best policies/incentives, institutional arrangements, and financing modalities that can best support rapid green business development in the region.


ADB hosts its First Green Business Forum in recognition that green business is a key component and mover of green growth. It is a friendly gathering where green business practitioners and professionals can have an open dialogue and share their best ideas and experiences. Participating in the Green Business Forum enables you to become part of the increasing momentum towards green growth.


  • Showcase a number of best practice examples to illustrate early movers and successes in emerging green markets across the region;
  • Share and learn from the most effective policy frameworks and market based approaches promoting green business;
  • Help better understand why some countries are able to foster green business growth faster than others, and identify key factors for success;
  • Stimulate investments in emerging green business space;
  • Enable partnerships and collaborations for green business


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Great Ecology’s 3rd Quarter Conference Attendance

Great Ecology’s staff has been involved in, or attended, a variety of conferences in the third quarter of 2016. Were you at some of these conferences, too? Let us know on Facebook!

  • Senior Managing Ecologist, Randy Mandel, attended the High Altitude Vegetation Summer Field Tour in southwestern Colorado this July, with the Central Rockies chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER).
  • Randy also co-facilitated an SER pub talk in Durango, CO titled “Collaborative Watershed-Length Riparian Restoration in Four Major Tributaries of the Colorado River.”
  • In early September, Director of Ecology, Nick Buhbe, Senior Landscape Architect, Michelle Landis, Associate Ecologist, Dr. Jill McGrady, and Jessa Spainhower, Director of Operations, attended the City of San Diego 2016 Design & Construction Networking EXPO.
  • Our Founder and CEO, Dr. Mark Laska, attended the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in September.
  • Randy Mandel presented “CWCB Bioengineering Guide and Searchable Revegetation Matrix” at the Colorado Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Conference in Crested Butte, CO.
  • Laska attended The Bonobo Project’s Communications Workshop: Raising the Profile of Bonobos in the US, at the San Diego Zoo.
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Landscape Architect’s Work Nominated for an Orchid Award

Great Ecology is pleased to announce that a project by Michelle Landis, one of our landscape architects, was nominated for an Orchid Award through Orchids & Onions, a project of the San Diego Architectural Foundation.

The Immaculate Conception Church is located in Old Town San Diego and is the site of the first Catholic Parish built in California. The renovated courtyard, which received the nomination, is available for public viewing 24-hours a day, and is accessible during daylight hours by the exterior gate, the Church, the rectory, and the parish hall. The courtyard includes a Shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe designed in conjunction with Mexican artist Irma Poeter. In addition, it includes several simple wall seats, a decorative paving pattern, natural materials, and a variety of succulents that frame the shrine rose garden. Site constraints including accessibility and water drainage issues were addressed in the redesign.

Although this site was not picked as one of the winners, we are incredibly proud of Michelle.


The Courtyard of the Immaculate Conception


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Great Ecology Affiliate Finalist in Cleantech Competition

Imagine a world where it is possible for urban areas to efficiently, and accurately, perform integrated environmental modeling—something which is necessary for developing and implementing green action plans based on the complex system of inputs and outputs specific to that area. The data could provide not only real-time information on environmental stressors such as pollution, but could also help ensure proper urban planning that accounts for use of trails, foot traffic, and as a result can estimate the likelihood of soil compaction or erosion along a popular riverbank beach.

That world is possible.

Former Great Ecology employee, Alejandro Baladrón, recently attended the Climate Launchpad cleantech business idea European Union finals competition, which is part of Climate-kic. There, Alejandro, and his business partner, Carlos Rivero, presented a five-minute pitch of their new technology, URBANMET.

“URBANMET is an urban environmental management solution for the holistic study of urban systems for public authorities committed to making cities more sustainable and resilient to climate change…integrated algorithms [will] connect multiple air, soil, water, and biology mathematic models to efficiently track energy and matter’s journey inside cities…”

According to the concept of urban metabolism, from which the product name is derived, cities are like “superorganisms,” the result of a complex systems of inputs, outputs, and flowpaths that move matter and energy through multiple environmental layers, including soils, the water cycle, the atmosphere and the vegetation. This software would help clients better understand a city’s urban metabolism. Since it is summarized by GIS maps, clients would be able to see spatiotemporal trends that influence environmental issues in their urban areas.

URBANMET´s holistic approach to the study of urban systems empowers public authorities to decide what green management options should be implemented in the city and where. This improvement in decision-making leads to higher reductions of CO2 emissions. Estimates indicate that URBANMET can reduce more than 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions in a city like New York annually, which is the equivalent of taking 54,000 cars off the road for a year.

Alejandro and Carlos were one of six teams (out of 88!) selected to pitch at the “Urban Transitions Theme Award.” The theme awards were a separate pitch-competition from the main Climate Launchpad program. There were five categories:

  • Urban Transitions;
  • Sustainable Production Systems;
  • Decision Metrics & Finance;
  • Sustainable Land Use; and
  • Carbon Negative.

Being selected to pitch at the “Urban Transitions Theme Award” meant URBANMET was considered one of the best solutions for developing integrated, scalable, and replicable systemic solutions that serve as catalysts, driving the transformation towards livable, zero-carbon, and resilient cities.

Ultimately, Alejandro and Carlos did not win the final prize at the Climate Launchpad event, but Alejandro said it was an amazing experience and that he and Carlos learned many useful tools for communicating ideas to potential investors. In addition, as national finalists Alejandro and Carlos were awarded SILVER-status for the Climate-KIC Accelerator Program.

Alejandro holds a Master’s in Applied Hydrology and is currently a Great Ecology affiliate. Carlos is an expert in greenhouse gas emissions.

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Randy Mandel Receives Riparian Hero Award

Great Ecology is pleased to announce that Randy Mandel, Senior Managing Ecologist, received the Riparian Hero Award from the Colorado Riparian Association during the opening banquet 2016 Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference in Avon, CO.

The conference, which took place from October 11th-13th, 2016, hosted between 250-300 attendees and represents the combined efforts of the Colorado Riparian Association, the Colorado Watershed Assembly, and the Colorado Foundation for Water Education.

Randy received the Riparian Hero Award for his sustained efforts on behalf of Colorado’s Riparian and Wetland Areas, as well as his work with the Society for Ecological Restoration, and the High Altitude Revegetation Workshop and Committee. He has been an active member/board member of the Colorado Riparian Association and High Altitude Revegetation Community for 24 years, and the Society for Ecological Restoration for 18 years.

This year, Randy not only received the Riparian Hero Award at the Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference, he also gave three presentations:

  • Emergency Watershed Protection Project Overview (panel discussion)
  • Colorado Water Conservation Board Revegetation/Restoration Matrix
  • Camp Hale Field Tour – Reference Areas/Reference Vegetation

If you missed it, but want to make next year’s, the dates are October 9th-12th, 2017.

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Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, Phase 2 Featured in Urban Land

Urban Land, the magazine produced by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) published an article earlier this month called “Rising Tides: Designing Resilient Amenities for Coastal Cities.” The article featured a project that Great Ecology helped support, the Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, Phase 2. A variety of design features were used to make this park—and the properties nearby—more resilient, including living shorelines, which Great Ecology designed. Stormwater runoff is filtered through the living shorelines and bioswales before entering the East River.


Hunter’s Point South Park


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Corktown Common Receives ASLA Honor Award

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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