Wetlands and Waterways
Responding to current regulatory fluctuations affecting federal aquatic resource definitions and rules, ESI’s team of certified Professional Wetland Scientists (PWS) and experienced ecologists keep a watchful eye focused on continuously changing regulations, ensuring projects are expediently reviewed and executed and client recommendations are based on up-to-the-minute information. ESI’s clients benefit from prudent permitting strategies and early evaluation of project constraints. Service offerings cover the full spectrum of aquatic resource regulatory concerns including wetland and stream delineations, wetland and stream functional assessments, mitigation design and construction oversight, wetland and stream monitoring, and 401/404 permitting.
Because wetland and stream delineations are required for all projects potentially impacting waters of the U.S. (WOUS), accurate identification of aquatic resources and resourceful navigation of potential risks are imperative for moving projects forward on schedule and on budget. ESI biologists are fully trained on the use of the 1987 USACE Delineation Manual including all current regional supplements. Depending on project location, some states require specific data collection forms, such as Ohio Rapid Assessment Method, Headwater Habitat Evaluation Index, and Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (ORAM, HHEI, and QHEI); Texas Rapid Assessment Method (TXRAM); and North Carolina Department of Water Quality (DWQ) Stream Identification Form, all familiar to and frequently used by the delineation team. ESI’s continual reinvestment in process improvement affords optimized data collection, fine-tuned accuracy, and expedient turn-around time.
Projects cannot proceed without regulatory clearances such as Clean Water Act Section 404 permits, Section 401 Water Quality Certifications, and Isolated Wetland Permits. Effectively navigating regulatory processes and inherent nuances requires experience, skill, and open communication and collaboration with USACE and state regulatory agencies. Beyond simply preparing and submitting permit applications, ESI professionals often accompany regulators during jurisdictional determination (JD) site visits, and apply insights gained to streamline the overall permitting process, ensuring projects adhere to anticipated construction schedules and remain cost effective.
With experience around the country and across a variety of landscapes, ESI’s wetland professionals specialize in stream and wetland mitigation/restoration design, wetland and stream functional assessments, Rosgen natural stream channel design, mitigation bank coordination, and post-construction stream and wetland mitigation monitoring. Turn-key services include design, implementation, construction oversight, and monitoring. Successful restoration begins with a clear understanding of project-specific conditions. ESI offers expertise essential for planning and executing restoration efforts coupled with exceptional knowledge of Endangered Species Act regulations, together yielding successful and compliant restoration plans for establishing habitat, stabilizing streambanks, and effectively revitalizing wetland function. Post-construction monitoring plans ensure continued success, meeting all regulatory requirements for release.
Accurate assessment of project-specific habitat conditions, both desirable and situations (such as invasive species) requiring mitigation, precludes unanticipated project delays and cost. ESI ecologists conduct aquatic and terrestrial wildlife surveys, botany surveys, and other habitat quality evaluations (AmphIBI & PHWH, VIBI etc.). Additional to completing invasive plant species surveys, ESI prepares invasive species management plans and trained, in-house, certified herbicide applicators effectively control invasive plant species while strategically avoiding nontarget plants and minimizing effects to sensitive habitats.