ECORP Awarded an Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP) Merit Award for the Historical Context and Archaeological Research Design for the Antelope Valley Study Area, Los Angeles and Kern Counties, California

ECORP was recently awarded a merit award by the AEP for the Antelope Valley Research Design. This document, prepared in collaboration with Caltrans District 7, a team of experts in archaeological subdisciplines, and local Native American communities, is a regional historical context that is designed to help guide investigations of Native American archaeological resources in the Antelope Valley region of southeastern California. The Study Area for the Research Design covers 5,202.72 square kilometers (2,008.78 square miles) and includes the entirety of the V-shaped Antelope Valley. 

The Research Design presents research themes, research questions, and data needs to help guide archaeological investigations in the region. It includes background information on topography, geology, hydrography, climate, vegetation, fauna, chronology, ethnohistory, previous archaeological investigations, geoarchaeology, and theoretical perspectives for interpreting cultural behavior. The Research Design explores research themes including discussions of paleoenvironmental reconstruction, settlement systems, subsistence, exchange and conveyance, lithic technology, lithic sources, population movements, and social differentiation. Research questions and the kinds of data necessary to address those questions are provided for each theme. 

To discuss ways that ECORP may assist your agency, please contact Wendy Blumel or Don Mitchell at (909) 307-0046 or Lisa Westwood at (916) 782-9100.

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ECORP: An Essential Team Player for Construction Management Contracts

In September 2020, the County of Riverside Transportation Department and City of Menifee held a virtual “ribbon-cutting” for the Scott Road Interchange Project, on which ECORP played an active role. This project consists of the addition of clover-leaf roundabouts, providing much-needed traffic congestion relief for the I-215 corridor. 

ECORP performed pre-construction surveys and ensured compliance with environmental permits throughout construction. Completion of this project comes approximately 1 year after ECORP provided similar services on the Newport Road Interchange Project (located one intersection north of Scott Road) and coincided with ECORP’s work on additional construction projects in Riverside County, including: SR-60 Truck Climbing Lane, Jackson Street Bridge Seismic Retrofit, Avenue 66 Grade Separation Project, and Cathedral Canyon Drive Bridge. Looking to the future, ECORP is soon to begin work on the Coachella Valley’s CV Link Project, which will add 40 miles of pedestrian-friendly bike and electric vehicle paths in the Coachella Valley. 

Contact Todd Chapman at (714) 648-0630, or Scott Taylor and Phillip Wasz at (909) 307-0046, or Jessie Beckman at (858) 279-4040 for all your environmental compliance needs!

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Lead Agency Staff Augmentation for Cultural and Tribal Resources

ECORP is a leader in Cultural Resources Management. A component of ECORP’s long-standing commitment to excellence in Cultural Resources and Tribal Cultural Resources issues involves assisting lead agencies and Tribal nations with consultation processes under Section 106, Assembly Bill 52, Assembly Bill 168, Senate Bill 18, and other federal and state consultation protocols. Our commitment to legal and ethical consultation, coupled with thorough knowledge of Cultural Resources law and recent changes to Cultural Resources legislation, positions ECORP as the best option for consulting support and staff augmentation services. 

ECORP currently provides staff augmentation support to lead agencies throughout the State of California. Examples of support include serving as liaison between agencies and California Native American communities, management of administrative records and consultation processes, assisting in the development of language for legal policies, and the development of protocols for the management of Cultural Resources within agency jurisdiction. ECORP provides Cultural Resources experts and the staff support to bring efficiency and transparency to your organization. With decades of experience working among agencies and stakeholders, ECORP will help you navigate the legal landscape and achieve consensus among stakeholders and other interested parties. 

To discuss your staff augmentation needs or other ways that ECORP may assist your agency, please contact John O’Connor, Ph.D., RPA at (858) 279-4040 or Lisa Westwood at (916) 782-9100.

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Eye in the Sky: ECORP Uses sUAS to Monitor a Fish Rescue Operation

In the summer of 2020, ECORP’s fisheries biologists conducted a fish rescue and relocation operation for the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency’s (SJAFCA) Smith Canal Gate Project. The purpose of this effort was to remove fish from the interior of an 80-by-80-foot cofferdam constructed to isolate the in-water work area in the mouth of Atherton Cove on the San Joaquin River in and near the city of Stockton. This effort was required by permits and authorizations issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). To fulfill these permit requirements, ECORP prepared a Fish Rescue and Relocation Plan for agency approval and implemented the plan by pulling large block nets to herd fish out of the work area prior to the installation of the final piles to seal off the cofferdam. Removing fish from a wetted cofferdam in a large water body with a deep layer of bottom sediments presented unique challenges and several passes with the block net, but surveillance of the cofferdam interior with SONAR detected no remaining fish following the fish rescue operation. ECORP’s licensed drone pilots documented various stages of the fish rescue and relocation using a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS). A video link is provided below. 

If you would like to discuss your project’s fish rescue needs, please contact Dave Thomas and Tom Scofield at (916) 782-9100, or Brian Zitt and Adam Schroeder at (714) 648-0630. 

For UAS services, please contact Andrew Myers at (916) 782-9100 or Adam Schroeder at (714) 648-0630.

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ECORP in California’s State Parks

ECORP is proud to provide ongoing biological and cultural resources support for a variety of improvement and infrastructure projects as part of our ongoing California Department of Parks and Recreation on-call service contract. 

Notable projects that ECORP has recently been involved with in Southern California include: trail accessibility improvements at the remote Picacho State Park along the Colorado River; replacement of water mains that provide potable water, non-potable irrigation services, and fire services while simultaneously relining and/or replacing old sewer lines to reduce the potential of catastrophic sewage spills at Doheny State Park; utility modernization and accessibility improvements at Torrey Pines State Reserve and Torrey Pine State Beach North Parking Lot; and the cliffside staircase replacement project at Point Dume Natural Preserve. 

Recent projects in Northern California include: Ritchey Creek Fish Barrier Removal at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park; California Red-Legged Frog Construction Monitoring at the Annadel State Park on the Ledson Dam Repair project; California Tiger Salamander Construction Monitoring on the ADA Campground Improvements project at Millerton State Recreation Area; Kashia Loop ADA Trail Development project at the Fort Ross State Historical Park; and Nesting Bird Surveys on the Group Campground Development project at McArthur-Burney Fall Memorial State Park. 

There is nothing more rewarding than helping ensure California’s greatest treasures will be enjoyable for generations to come. 

For more information on biological and cultural resources support in California State Parks, contact Don Mitchell at (909) 307-0046 or Tom Scofield at (916) 782-9100.

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ECORP Provides Hydroacoustic Services for Monitoring Underwater Noise

In-water construction projects are subject to numerous regulatory permit conditions to protect aquatic life, particularly special-status fishes and marine mammal species. Construction activities that generate underwater noise, such as pile-driving with diesel impact hammers, may produce levels that are harmful or even lethal to fish and marine mammals. As such, the underwater noise levels associated with these projects are typically subject to limitations established by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

Monitoring noise levels is routinely required in permits and authorizations provided by NMFS, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and requires the expertise of biologists or acousticians trained in hydroacoustics (i.e., underwater sound). 

ECORP’s aquatic biologists are trained and experienced in all aspects of underwater noise monitoring, including working with NMFS, USFWS, and CDFW to delineate action areas for monitoring, preparing hydroacoustic monitoring plans, implementing underwater noise monitoring for permit compliance, and working with our clients to minimize underwater noise levels. Our staff are equipped with state-of-the-art underwater noise monitoring equipment for boat-based operations in inland, estuarine, and coastal waters. ECORP provides a full range of hydroacoustic monitoring services, from project planning and permitting assistance through implementation, data analyses, and reporting. 

ECORP’s key underwater noise monitoring projects include:

  • San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency’s Smith Canal Gate Project
  • Central Lathrop Stormwater Outfall Construction Project
  • White Slough Stormwater Outfall Construction Project
  • City of West Sacramento’s Raley’s Dock Construction Project
  • San Diego Unified Port District’s Shelter Island Boat Launch Facility Improvements Project

 If you would like to discuss your project’s underwater noise monitoring needs, please contact Dave ThomasTom Scofield, or Jeff Tupen at (916) 782-9100, or Brian Zitt at (714) 648-0630.

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Managing San Diego’s Open Space Resources

ECORP is proud to take part in the management of San Diego’s open space resources. A team of ECORP biologists and regulatory specialists performed a wetland delineation at the Batiquitos Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area in September 2020, in support of future restoration and scientific study efforts around the lagoon. 

Located on the Carlsbad/Encinitas border in San Diego County, Batiquitos Lagoon features one of the largest contiguous segments of undisturbed wetland habitat in the county. In addition to being among the most biodiverse ecosystems in existence, properly functioning wetlands contribute to improved water quality, shoreline erosion control, and flood protection. Any impact to wetlands (including improvement or restoration) requires approval and regulation under the Clean Water Act, Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, and California Fish and Game Code. 

By definition, wetlands extend beyond where surface water flows and delineating them is more complicated than one may think. Using tools and techniques that blend the fields of ecology, regulatory permitting, and soils science, the field team fully surveyed the area, collecting data that would be used to delineate a boundary around the wetland. In addition, ECORP collected baseline water samples at various points throughout the lagoon. The wetland delineation and water quality samples collected will serve as baseline data to support the lagoon’s future improvement. 

This isn’t ECORP’s first trip to the park. ECORP’s open space resume is well-rounded and includes work at state parks, nature reserves, and other open spaces throughout California. We are looking forward to doing more open space work in 2021! 

For more information on Open Space Resources, contact Marin Meza at (916) 782-9100 or Jessie Beckman and Margaret Bornyasz at (858) 279-4040.

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Closed for the Holidays

All ECORP offices will be closed from Friday, December 25, 2020 through Friday, January 1, 2021

ECORP will reopen on Monday, January 4, 2021

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Navigable Waters Protection Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States”

The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) published the Final Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) in the Federal Register on April 21, 2020, with an effective date of June 22, 2020. Although several lawsuits have been filed, requests for an injunction of the NWPR’s June 22, 2020 effective date were denied by the U.S. District Court in California on June 19, 2020. Therefore, the NWPR is in effect while lawsuits proceed.

The NWPR is the second step in the implementation of the Presidential Executive Order “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule” signed on February 28, 2017. The NWPR limits the definition of Waters of the U.S. to four categories of jurisdictional waters: (1) the territorial seas and traditional navigable waters; (2) perennial and intermittent tributaries to those waters; (3) certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments; and (4) wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters. The NWPR also describes 12 categories of exclusions from the definition of Waters of the U.S. These include: ephemeral features, groundwater, several types of ditches, prior-converted cropland, and waste treatment systems. Overall, the NWPR reduces of the list of aquatic features that meet the definition of Waters of the U.S. compared to the previous definition (2015 Clean Water Rule).

The USACE Regional Districts in California have indicated they are still receiving and interpreting guidance on how to implement the NWPR. Projects are still required to submit aquatic resources delineations to the USACE for verification. Additionally, pending lawsuits could result in changes, holds, or revocation of the NWPR in the future. ECORP continues to track pending lawsuits and work closely with USACE regulatory project managers to understand the implications of the NWPR for current and future projects and will manage these changes in an efficient manner.

If you have questions about the NWPR and implications for your project, please contact your ECORP project manager or for Northern California projects: Lourdes Gonzalez-Peralta at (916) 782-9100; San Diego area projects: Margaret Bornyasz at (858) 279-4040; Inland Empire area projects: Scott Taylor at (909) 307-0046; or Orange County area projects: Todd Chapman at (714) 648-0630.
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PCCP Moves Closer to Implementation

The Placer County Conservation Program (PCCP) is one step closer to final approvals! On July 9, 2020 the Placer County Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the program. Approvals from the remaining stakeholders are anticipated later this summer, with full adoption potentially this fall/winter. The Final EIS/EIR was published on May 22, 2020.

The PCCP is a Habit Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan that allows for Placer County, City of Lincoln, Placer County Water Agency, and South Placer Regional Transportation Authority to receive Incidental Take Permits for Covered Species from the USFWS and CDFW. The PCCP also contains the County Aquatic Resources Program (CARP) that is intended to streamline the permitting under the Clean Water Act Sections 404 and 401. Land-use authorities (Placer County and City of Lincoln) will be able to authorize incidental take of state and federally listed species and minimal impacts to aquatic features for projects proposed by public and private entities who follow specific avoidance and minimization requirements. The PCCP also provides a streamlined process for satisfying project mitigation needs through the payment of special habitat fees and land conversion fees which ultimately support the Western Placer County In-Lieu Fee Program and establishment of the Reserve System. Participation in the PCCP is voluntary and will be encouraged by Placer County and City of Lincoln for all projects within the PCCP Future Growth Area.

ECORP has managed the regulatory permitting for several projects that are PCCP-compliant in anticipation of future participation and mitigation through the PCCP. We have qualified biologists with experience in preparing the supporting documentation needed for PCCP Participation Packages and in helping clients to meet the project design, avoidance, and minimization measures required by the PCCP. ECORP can also assist with the land dedication process for landowners who are interested in dedicating land to the PCCP to satisfy mitigation requirements.

If you have a project within the PCCP Plan Area, please contact Theresa Johnson at (916) 782-9100 to see how our permitting specialists can assist with your project planning and regulatory needs.
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