Natural Resources and Ecological Services
Natural Resources is a broad term that can be used to describe any naturally occurring characteristic of our planet. Biotic resources are obtained from the biosphere (living and organic material), such as forests and animals, and the materials that can be obtained from them. Abiotic resources are those that come from non-living, non-organic material, such as land, fresh water, air and ores such as gold, iron, copper, silver, etc. Resources can also be classified as renewable and non-renewable.
Natural Resource and Ecological assessments may be required to identify resources to be utilized (i.e. fossil fuels and minerals) or as part of a development project where impacts to natural resources need to be considered.
DEA provides a full range of professional services related to Natural Resource and Ecological assessment, protection and utilization, including wetland and endangered species evaluations which are arguably the most common environmental issues related to any development project.
In general terms, wetlands are lands on which water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface of the soil or within the root zone, all year or for intermittent periods of time during the year, including during the growing season.
The United States (U.S.) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) have federal regulatory authority over “waters of the United States”, which specifically encompasses wetland areas. However, although some wetlands are included in this definition, not all wetlands within the landscape of the U.S. are “waters of the United States” and therefore are not subject to federal regulations but may be subject to state or local regulation.
Wetland delineations conducted by DEA establish the existence (location) and area of a wetland for the purposes of federal, state, and local regulations and is an element of a “jurisdictional determination.”
DEA also provides wetland permitting and mitigation services that may be required if impacts to wetlands are unavoidable. Mitigation may be required if, after all appropriate and practicable avoidance and minimization has been achieved, there will still be impacts to wetlands. Mitigation may include restoration (re-establishment or rehabilitation), establishment (creation), enhancement, and/or in certain circumstances preservation of wetlands, streams and other aquatic resources (potentially via a wetland mitigation credit bank or other project specific activities).
Species of plants and animals that are listed as Threatened or Endangered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the Endangered Species Act, are subject to certain protections, including protection of critical habitat being destroyed or adversely modified; restrictions on take and trade; and requirements that the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service develop and implement recovery plans for listed species under U.S. jurisdiction.
Biological Assessments conducted by DEA are used to establish the presence, or potential presence, of listed species. When necessary consultation with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service may be conducted to obtain their concurrence on our findings and/or to establish “reasonable and prudent alternatives,” such as project modifications or rescheduling. Species specific assessments may also be required from time to time and consultation can lead to certain permitting options and mitigation of impacts.
In addition to the Endangered Species Act, the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act provide certain protections for numerous bird species. In addition, there may be state and local regulations related to the protection flora and fauna that need to be considered. DEA can help guide you through compliance with these regulations.