Tricolored Blackbird Workshop

On July 17 th , ECORP biologists presented a Tricolored Blackbird (TRBL) Workshop for the North State Building Industry Association. Avian Biologist Angela Haas presented background on the species’ breeding and foraging ecology and population trends. Biologist Emily Mecke presented an overview of the different contexts under which the species is currently regulated. The Workshop concluded with, Biologist Taraneh Emam leading a discussion on the future of avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures for TRBL during a project’s development.
Emily Mecke Presenting
Following a petition for emergency action filed in 2015, TRBL (Agelaius tricolor) was listed as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act on April 19, 2018. With the listing, a California Endangered Species Act (CESA) 2081 Incidental Take Permit is required in order to “take” TRBL. Take is defined in the California Fish and Game Code as hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill – or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill. In addition, with the listing comes some uncertainty as to how Lead Agencies and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will regulate impacts to potential TRBL foraging habitat under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). TRBL forage in a wide variety of open habitats, including agricultural fields and grasslands. ECORP can assist project applicants through the CESA and CEQA process with regards to this species. ECORP can also deliver this Workshop to any organization, city, or county that would like to learn more about TRBL regulations.
For more information, contact Lourdes Gonzalez-Peralta or Angela Haas at (916) 782-9100.
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ECORP’s Presentation at SAGE Seminar: Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS – Drones) – Assessment of Environmental Resources

Since 2016 ECORP has implemented UAS technology to support a variety of environmental and regulatory permitting projects. As a leader in UAS technology for environmental applications, ECORP was asked to present at the 2018  Mapping Our World from a New Perspective seminar hosted by the El Dorado County-based trade organization SAGE. SAGE or Surveyors Architects Geologist and Engineers was formed in the 1970s to “provide and share technical expertise for the betterment of the County”.
ECORP’s Dave Krolick and Andrew Myers offered unique insight from real-world experience collecting and analyzing current, accurate, and actionable UAS data in the environmental/regulatory context. Using successful project examples, Dave and Andrew shared the benefits of UAS application in the environmental process, such as construction compliance documentation of historically significant bridge replacements along Route 66 in San Bernardino County and the evaluation of wetland-mitigation-bank conditions in Sutter County. Additional project-specific UAS applications included: hydrology and water quality, wetland monitoring, restoration planning, historic resources documentation, and open space land planning.
For your UAS or mapping needs, contact Dave Krolick  at (916) 782-9100.
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ECORP Assists Placer County to Develop a Tool to Use Lidar Data to Automatically Detect Wetlands and Other Waters of the U.S.

Lidar Only 1High-density topographic mapping data collected by lidar sensors are rapidly becoming available for use in projects. For example, in the California Central Valley local governments and state agencies have access to a valley-wide comprehensive data set developed for the Central Valley Flood Evaluation and Delineation (CVFED) Program. The availability of lidar data brings opportunity for development of large-scale environmental resource datasets and interpretation tools that can be used by local planning authorities.
Recently, ECORP collaborated with Placer County Community Development Resource Agency to develop a lidar-based tool to automatically detect areas likely to support wetlands and waters of the U.S. This tool is being used to develop a regional Depressional Landscape Wetland Index (DLWI) for use in implementation of the Placer County Conservation Program (PCCP). The DLWI will be used by PCCP biologists as the baseline condition for lands in the program and to evaluate changes to the landscape during the permit term.
To develop the DLWI, ECORP processed CVFED lidar data into a raster-gridded Digital Elevation Model (DEM). ECORP then developed a GIS-based process model that automatically identifies enclosed topographic areas and likely flow paths for surface water. The topographic enclosures and linear wetland flow paths were modeled using automation tools developed by ECORP to assist in remote sensing of wetlands and wetland habitats using lidar data inputs. These tools successfully mapped wetlands and waters over the entire 212,000-acre program area and will allow staff at Placer County, the City of Lincoln, and the PCCP to conduct baseline consistency determinations under the PCCP.
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The PCCP Depressional Landscape Wetland Index is one example of a tool and dataset that can be derived from lidar data and GIS models and used by a local planning authority. ECORP is continuing to develop creative solutions for large-scale environmental data collection and interpretation using lidar data and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
For more information, contact Dave Krolick at (916) 782-9100.
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2015 Final Rule on Definition of Waters of the United States Reinstated

On August 16, 2018, after three years of litigation and court deliberations, the Final Rule on the definition of Waters of the United States (80 FR 124: 37054-37127), originally published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) in June 2015, has been reinstated. The Final Rule was stayed nationwide in February 2016 due to several lawsuits filed against the Final Rule. In January 2018, the stay was dissolved, reinstating the Final Rule, but additional lawsuits resulted in suspending implementation of the Final Rule for two years. On August 16, 2018, the suspension was enjoined, meaning the 2015 Final Rule is now reinstated. The Final Rule replaces all prior rules and guidance on the definition of waters of the U.S. used in implementing the Clean Water Act.
Water Rule 1What does the new rule say? 
The Final Rule provides greater clarity and consistency regarding delineation of jurisdictional waters and reduces the need for case-specific evaluations. The Final Rule alters the approach of evaluating jurisdiction over associated waters, wetlands, tributaries to traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, and the territorial seas. Waters are considered adjacent, and therefore are included as waters of the U.S., if they are within 100 feet of a water of the U.S., within the 100-year floodplain and not more than 1,500 feet from a water of the U.S., or within 1,500 feet of the high tide line. The Final Rule requires case-specific application of the significant nexus test for any waters found within a 100-year floodplain or within 4,000 feet of a water of the U.S. For western vernal pools located outside of 4,000 feet of a water of the U.S., a significant nexus test must be completed for the entire watershed for these “similarly situated” wetlands. All vernal pools in that watershed will be treated similarly based on the analysis.
What waters are excluded from jurisdiction?
The Final Rule provides a long list of waters and other features that are explicitly excluded from jurisdiction regardless of their position on the landscape, although most of these were already excluded under previous Corps procedures. However, jurisdiction of “ditches” has been clarified more explicitly. The following are
not considered jurisdictional: 1) ditches with ephemeral flow that are not a relocated or excavated tributary;
2) ditches with intermittent flow that are not a relocated or excavated tributary and do not drain wetlands; and
3) ditches that do not flow into a traditional navigable water, interstate water, or the territorial seas (either directly or through another water).
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What does this mean for Clean Water Act jurisdiction in California? 
The Final Rule will not change how delineations are conducted in California but may change the extent of jurisdictional waters delineated. The Final Rule creates some clear boundaries (based on distance and floodplain) to use in the determination of jurisdictional waters. However, it will likely expand the effort necessary for evaluation of jurisdiction for waters outside the boundaries stated in the Final Rule, at least initially. Once such an evaluation is completed for a watershed, the analysis should be simpler.
The Final Rule makes clear that federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act does not affect the extent of state jurisdiction of waters, which is often larger than the extent of federal jurisdiction.
The reinstatement of the EPA and Corps Final Rule on waters of the U.S. and future implementation of the Clean Water Act does not necessitate re-evaluation of previously delineated properties, but re-evaluation of federal jurisdiction can be made at the property owner’s request.
If you need help with the delineation of waters or the permitting process for waters found on your property or would like to discuss the Final Rule and its ramifications further, please contact Keith Kwan in the Rocklin office at (916) 782-9100; Margaret Bornyasz in the San Diego office at (858) 279-4040; or Scott Taylor in the Redlands office at (909) 307-0046.
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South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan (SSHCP) Approved

SSHCP LogoAs of October 29, 2018, the SSHCP has been adopted by all partners – the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, the Rancho Cordova and Galt City Councils, the Capital SouthEast Connector Joint Powers Authority, and the South Sacramento Conservation Agency, which will act as the implementing entity for the SSHCP.
Permits from regulatory agencies are pending and are anticipated to be issued this winter/spring.
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The SSHCP is a regional effort that will create a streamlined federal and state permitting process, while preserving habitat, open space, and agricultural lands. The SSHCP will allow Sacramento County, the City of Rancho Cordova, City of Galt, Sacramento County Water Agency, and the Capital SouthEast Connector Joint Powers Authority to receive Incidental Take Permits (ITPs) for Covered Species from USFWS and CDFW. The SSHCP also includes an Aquatic Resources Program to streamline permitting under the Clean Water Act Sections 404 and 401. Land use authorities (Sacramento County, Galt, and Rancho Cordova) will be able to authorize incidental take of state and federally listed species and minimal impacts to aquatic features for projects implemented by third-party proponents.
ECORP has managed the regulatory permitting for several projects that served as “on-ramps” to the SSHCP permitting process and were subject to SSHCP requirements, including one of the first projects to mitigate impacts through the SSHCP Development Fee program. We have experience in preparing the supporting documentation needed for SSHCP permit applications and in helping clients to meet the project design, avoidance, and minimization measures required by the SSHCP.
If you have a project within the  SSHCP Plan Area , please contact Taraneh Emam at (916) 782-9100 to see how our permitting specialists can assist in your project planning and regulatory needs.
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SJM Biological Consultants Joins ECORP Consulting, Inc.

We are excited to announce that SJM Biological Consultants (SJMBC) has joined forces with ECORP.
September Article1After working in the Southern California region as an independent
consultant for nearly four decades, Steve Montgomery is now a Principal Biologist on ECORP’s team of biological resources professionals. During the transition, SJMBC will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of ECORP. SJMBC and ECORP staff have worked together on well over 100 projects in the last 25 years. Steve has been training ECORP biologists for several years, and ECORP and SJMBC are now moving forward as a seamless team.
SJMBC was established in 1983 and, since its inception, has completed nearly 1,000 field inventories of endangered and otherwise sensitive vertebrate wildlife species, analyzed myriad wildlife habitats and communities for their suitability for various wildlife species, developed habitat creation methods for a variety of federally and state-listed small mammals, and implemented numerous species translocation projects. Clients have included both public and private enterprises, from individual land owners to municipal, state, and federal agencies, and various Department of Defense entities. The firm has directed or participated in field studies in most Southern and Central California habitat types, including oak and riparian woodlands, coniferous forests, sage scrub and chaparral communities, alluvial fan scrub communities, grassland communities, coastal wetlands, freshwater marshes and lakes, and hot and cold desert communities.
Steve is a recognized expert on the federally listed (endangered) Stephens’ kangaroo rat, San Bernardino kangaroo rat, Pacific pocket mouse, Amargosa vole, and Yuma clapper (now Ridgway’s) rail, as well as the California state-listed (threatened) Mohave ground squirrel and sensitive Los Angeles and Palm Springs little pocket mice, and he has worked with these species for decades. He has striven to provide the highest quality field studies and related-assistance to clients, while maintaining his expertise with various species and his relationships with state and federal regulatory and conservancy agencies.
September Article.2This new relationship will add invaluable expertise to the ECORP team and will provide additional depth of services and responsiveness to Steve’s many loyal clients. Our enhanced team looks forward to continuing to provide the same types of high-quality  services our clients have come to expect and rely on.
Steve makes his home in Flagstaff, AZ, further extending ECORP’s geographic reach. For more information, contact Steve Montgomery at (928) 527-1604, or Don Mitchell or Kristen Wasz in the Redlands office at (909) 307-0046.
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ECORP on the Leading Edge of eDNA Identification Methodology

What is eDNA?
Environmental DNA (eDNA) is nuclear or mitochondrial DNA that is released from an organism into the environment. Sources of eDNA include shed skin, mucous, gametes, feces, hair, and carcasses. The DNA of a range of aquatic organisms can be detected in water samples at very low concentrations using qPCR (quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction), conventional PCR, and/or DNA sequencing technology.
In California, ECORP staff have been involved in an effort for the Central Valley Clean Water Association (CVCWA) and a consortium of 47 wastewater treatment facilities to evaluate the efficacy of using eDNA for determining the presence or absence of California native freshwater mussels in Central Valley water bodies. In addition, ECORP staff have assisted on eDNA projects with listed large branchiopods, trout species, mountain yellow-legged frog, and chytrid fungus.
eDNA_Conceptual_Model-MOCKUP_V6
 
How can an eDNA survey benefit my project?
The use of eDNA can significantly reduce the necessity for traditional surveying methods, typically reducing costs while improving detection. With eDNA methodology, the visual identification or handling of target species would not be required to confirm their presence or absence. The eDNA methodology can be used to:
  • Determine presence/absence of listed species in a given project area (e.g., Chinook salmon, steelhead, large branchiopods, California red-legged frog, California tiger salamander)
  • Guide preliminary presence/absence assessments or additional survey efforts
  • Facilitate early detection of recolonizing invasive species after their intentional removal from mitigation/restoration sites
  • Determine, during a preliminary site assessment, whether invasive species (e.g., northern pike and other invasive fish, zebra and quagga mussels, bullfrog, and chytrid fungus) exist that may lessen the chance of special-status species occurring Quickly assess the spread of newly introduced invasive species
  • Evaluate the success and spread of native species being reintroduced or simply being tracked for other purposes
  • Map presence/absence of species to assist with larger scale projects (e.g., restoration plans, agency projects, County projects, State projects)
  • Demonstrate occupied habitat at mitigation sites
  • Assess temporal (e.g., before/after a construction project) and spatial (e.g., upstream vs. downstream of a point source discharge) impacts
  • Confirm regulatory compliance (e.g., freshwater mussel presence or absence for ammonia compliance)
How long does environmental DNA persist in water?
In aquatic environments, eDNA persists for a relatively short amount of time (3-4 weeks maximum) because it degrades with exposure to environmental conditions (e.g., light, oxygen, pH, salinity, substrates, and the microbial community). Due to this short persistence duration, eDNA detections can be confidently interpreted as proof of target species presence.
Where can you use the method?
In California, eDNA methods have been tested in a variety of habitats, and have been used to detect a range of organisms, including mussels and other aquatic invertebrates, fish, amphibians, branchiopods, mammals, and water birds.
How can I learn more about eDNA services from ECORP?
ECORP has been developing its eDNA service through partnerships with local research organizations at the University of California, Davis, and William Jessup University, among others. ECORP can help you understand how eDNA technology can help your organization, whether you are planning a project in an area with sensitive resources or are an agency in need of water supply analysis.
For more information, contact David Thomas or Jason Peters in the Rocklin office at (916) 782-9100; or Todd Chapman or Brian Zitt in the Santa Ana office at (714) 648-0630.
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