ECORP Staff Share Edible ‘Artifacts’ at the Archaeology Fair

Fair-1Members of ECORP’s cultural resources staff recently joined other local professionals and scholars at the Fifth Annual Archaeology Fair held at the Hidden Valley Wildlife Refuge in Riverside, California. The Fair is a celebration sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and the Riverside County Parks and Open Space District in observation of International Archaeology Day, held each year on the third Saturday of October. The local AIA Society and other participants organized a very successful community-wide event promoting public education in archaeology, support of archaeological research and field work, and preservation of archaeological sites.

Fair-2ECORP archaeologists Wendy Blumel and Andrew Myers organized a delicious hands-on activity that assisted visitors in examining the earth’s strata and how archaeological sites form and become buried over time. Archaeological features, artifacts, and other evidence of past human activities can become buried with soil over time when sediments are transported and deposited by the earth’s natural processes. What is the best way to recreate this process to delight a public audience? Give them a recipe for candy-laced archaeological deposits layered between depositional episodes of chocolate cereal and then let them excavate (eat) through the various levels to discover the hidden ‘artifacts.’ 

Having first appeared at the Archaeology Fair in 2014, ECORP’s educational, interactive, and tasty booth continues to be very popular among kids and adults alike, resulting in positive feedback from both the public and organizers of the event. The team has received requests to duplicate this fun and easy lesson at future community-based events, and the educational flyer, “How Archaeological Sites Form,” is now being used by teachers through the Heritage Education Program in Riverside County ( ECORP’s cultural resources staff looks forward to continued participation in future events promoting public understanding of archaeology.

For more information, contact Wendy Blumel at (909) 307-0046 or Roger Mason at (714) 648-0630.

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City of Carlsbad Cultural Resources Guidelines Update

In 2016, ECORP was retained by the City of Carlsbad to prepare a substantial revision and update to the City’s cultural resources guidelines. In 1990, the City developed its first set of guidelines for the treatment of cultural resources that established a standard of performance for cultural resources investigations to meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act that, by today’s standards, were narrowly scoped to address archaeological sites.


Since 1990, a number of changes have occurred in the regulatory context within which the City operates. These changes occurred at various levels of jurisdiction, including the city, state, and national levels and in the thresholds and expectations for best professional practices in cultural resources management. Changes have also occurred in terms of the level of involvement by stakeholders in cultural resources, particularly Native American tribes, as well as historical societies and the general public. Tribal cultural resources, paleontological resources, and compliance with Assembly Bill 52 and Senate Bill 18 needed to be incorporated into the City’s updated guidelines and procedures.

Because of the number of regulatory changes that have occurred since 1990, and the narrow scope of the prior guidelines, City staff retained ECORP to comprehensively update the guidelines to meet current standards, amendments to laws, and new City policies. The guidelines were developed through consultation with tribes, industry professionals, elected officials, and the public to include a standardized set of procedures by which the City takes into account the impacts of projects to cultural, tribal, and paleontological resources in a manner that weaves together and satisfies all of the various regulatory and legal requirements. The guidelines are written so that both technical and non-technical staff, including consultants, tribes, planners, and developers, can gain a clear understanding of cultural requirements. The guidelines include a list of standardized mitigation and treatment measures that have been mutually agreed upon by the City, stakeholders, tribes, and the public through an intensive review process.

The new comprehensive guidelines were adopted by the City Council in October 2017 and were recognized by the San Diego Chapter of the Association of Environmental Professionals for a Meritorious Outstanding Planning Document in the category of Plan, Policy, or Ordinance.

For more information, contact Lisa Westwood at (916) 782-9100 (Northern California), or Roger Mason at (714) 648-0630 (Southern California).

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Wildland Fire – Evaluating and Valuing the Damage to Habitat and Wildlife

Wildland-1The damage resulting from wildland fire is most obvious when homes, outbuildings, vehicles and equipment, fences, and livestock are affected. The costs associated with repairing or replacing tangible items lost in a wildland fire can be quantified for the purposes of insurance claims and during litigation when an at-fault party is identified and costs need to be recovered. Cost estimates for October’s devastating northern California wine country fires, which destroyed thousands of buildings and other infrastructure, are currently at more than $3 billion.

On the other hand, the costs associated with damage to natural habitats, forests, rangelands, and wildlife species that have been lost or displaced by wildland fire are much more difficult to quantify. In many cases, the presence of the natural habitat or wildlife has a high intrinsic value for the landowner and they should consider seeking compensation for this loss along with the loss of tangible items.


In wildland fire litigation cases, the objective is to recover the costs associated with returning the property to its pre-fire condition. In the case of a private landowner whose property supported high-quality natural habitat, habitat occupied by an endangered species, or prime browsing or migratory habitat for deer or elk, the costs associated with returning the habitat to pre-fire conditions also needs to be determined.

This can be a daunting task because formulation of the costs of restoring the habitat must consider the length of time it takes to return the habitat to the same distribution on the property, the same age or size class of vegetation, the same structure, and the same diversity of plant species. The recovery costs also need to include labor, material, and equipment costs to do the planting, to install and maintain the irrigation system, to remove weeds and nonnative or invasive plant species, and to monitor the habitat until it achieves the pre-fire condition.

Wildland-3An added difficulty in litigation cases is that there is often a significant time lag between when the fire occurs and when the case is settled. In areas affected by wildland fires, nonnative and invasive plant species become a serious problem because these species typically take hold and spread quickly, often creating so much competition that the native plants cannot regenerate and survive. Assessing the costs of restoring natural habitats after wildland fire is typically done early in the litigation process, and the on-the-ground conditions related to the density and distribution of nonnative and invasive plants are often quite different at the time of settlement. Therefore, projecting the costs and the length of time necessary to control the nonnative and invasive plants, both initially and for the long term, is a critical component of determining a fair compensation for the damaged landowner.

ECORP has provided wildland fire litigation support for multiple fires in California and we can easily apply our expertise to fire incidents throughout the United States. We can assist our clients with the following services for their wildland fire projects:

  • Evaluation of wildland fire damage and preparation of wildland fire damage assessments
  • Preparation of post-fire restoration plans and invasive species control plans
  • Litigation support
  • Technical expertise and expert witness testimony
  • Confidentiality

If you would like to know more, please contact Mari Quillman or Kathy Kondor at (714) 648-0630.

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ECORP Sponsors Annual ACWA Conference

ECORP is looking forward to exhibiting at ACWA’s 2017 Fall Conference and Exhibition November 28 through December 1, in Anaheim!

We hope you’ll stop by our booth (#502).


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ECORP Closes for Thanksgiving

All ECORP offices will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 23, and Friday, November 24, 2017.

We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving enjoying time with friends and family!

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SAME/OC 2017 Federal Business Opportunities Symposium

The Society of American Military Engineers (SAME/OC) will host the 2017 Federal Business Opportunities Symposium on November 8, at the Hilton in Costa Mesa. We hope to see you there!


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ECORP’s 20 Permitted Biologists are Ready for Shrimp Survey Season Statewide!

Fairy shrimp and tadpole shrimp occur within ephemeral pools and wetlands. Many of the shrimp species found in California are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Shrimp eggs/cysts lie dormant in seasonal pools during the dry months and hatch once the wetlands become ponded from winter rains.

Surveys for these species must be approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and conducted by a qualified/permitted biologist. ECORP biologists have extensive experience identifying and working with these organisms and are permitted by the USFWS to conduct both wet and dry season surveys, which constitutes a complete survey pursuant to USFWS guidelines. ECORP is one of only a small number of firms with permitted biologists authorized for dry season sampling in California and has 20 biologists permitted for large branchiopod wet season sampling in our Rocklin, Redlands, Santa Ana, and San Diego offices. ECORP conducts these surveys to support  federal Endangered Species Act Section 7 and Section 10 Consultations, and the results of these surveys are often used to substantially reduce the time needed for permit authorizations and the cost of mitigation. As winter rains are approaching, now is the time to schedule surveys for listed shrimp. This winter’s survey “window” is almost upon us and there is still time to schedule dry season surveys, so don’t delay.

If you have questions or would like to discuss whether conducting surveys may be right for your project, please contact  Peter Balfour at (916) 782-9100 (Northern/Central California) or Kristen Wasz at (909) 307-0046 (Southern California).
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