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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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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.


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.


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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