Category: Uncategorized

The Stream + Wetlands Foundation (S+W) was retained by Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture of General Motors (GM) and LG Chem, to provide more than 130-acres of wetland mitigation for the new battery cell manufacturing plant to be constructed in Lordstown, Ohio. Ultium Cells LLC is investing $2.3 billion in the new facility. The location chosen for the new plant is significant because it will be built next to the former GM Lordstown Assembly Plant, which closed in 2019. The former GM Lordstown facility is being repurposed by Lordstown Motors, which will begin manufacturing electric pickup trucks in 2021. The 158-acre Ultium Cells site, located along Tod Avenue between Salt Springs Road and Hallock Young Road, will house the battery cell plant, several support buildings, parking lot and stormwater management features. The facility is estimated to create more than 1,100 new jobs, a huge win for the local community.

Construction of the new plant will impact 66 acres of low to moderate quality wetlands. This prompted GM and their ecological consultant Arcadis, in late November 2019 to enlist the help of S+W to locate and plan for a suitable wetland mitigation site that could meet the compensatory mitigation needs of the new plant. ”The challenges presented by GM  were steep as they not only needed a very large wetland mitigation site that had to be located in the same watershed as the new plant, but they also had an aggressive schedule to meet to get the plant on-line,” explained S+W President Vince Messerly.  The aggressive schedule included the need to submit their Clean Water Act Sections 401 and 404 permit applications by early January 2020 and secure those permits by early April 2020. 

In addition to S+W, the team working to secure the 401/404 permits included Jim Hartnett of GM (project lead),Vinnie Tremante of Arcadis, as well as management and support staff from the Ohio Division of Wildlife, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, the Ohio EPA, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the United States EPA.

“We selected Stream + Wetlands Foundation as our partner because of their knowledge of the region and their extensive experience with wetland mitigation,” said Vinnie Tremante, Arcadis project manager. “They moved quickly and adeptly, doing quality work in a timely manner to help the team complete the permitting on schedule. They managed requests from multiple state and federal agencies to arrive at a final mitigation plan that will provide significant long-term environmental benefits to the Mahoning watershed.”

Working under a tight timeline and strict siting requirements, our team went to work diligently seeking viable mitigation sites within the Mahoning River watershed. We met with numerous private landowners, park districts and conservation organizations in the area to seek a suitable site or sites that could provide the 130-acres of wetland mitigation. Numerous possible locations were identified, and the short list of sites was presented to management at GM and Ultium Cells for their review and input. Out of this process, a site owned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) was selected. This site was chosen for a number of reasons including: location, the predominance of hydric soils, natural hydrology, the ability for the public to use the site, the ability to restore habitat for sensitive flora and fauna in the area and habitat connectivity.. 

The 172-acre mitigation site, located north of Mahan Denman Road in Mecca Township in Trumbull County within the Mosquito Creek Wildlife Refuge, is managed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.   The wetland mitigation project will restore a wide variety habitat across the entire site including wet meadow, forest, scrub shrub, shallow emergent marsh and deep emergent marsh habitats.  The established wetlands and uplands on the site will help to improved water quality, habitat diversity and ecological connectivity for sensitive birds, amphibians, and other wildlife species in and near the Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area.

“Stream and Wetlands Foundation did a remarkable job guiding us through the wetland mitigation process,” commented Jim Hartnett, Manager, Eco-Restorers/Remediation Team with General Motors. “Their in-depth knowledge and strong relationships with the regulatory community was a big factor in meeting the project timelines and developing a project that will enhance the environment and biodiversity of the Mosquito Creek watershed. Ultium Cells looks forward to a successful project construction and establishment of a wetland that will be preserved in perpetuity for many generations to come. Many thanks to Stream and Wetlands and all the government partners who worked so diligently to make this project to protect the environment possible.”

Construction activities for the wetland mitigation project began in early May with earth moving completed once field conditions are appropriate. The battery cell plant is projected to be complete by spring 2022 and fully operational by 2023. S+W is proud to partner with GM and Ultium Cells on this innovative project, as well as have the opportunity to restore and permanently protect the 172-acre mitigation.

Category: Uncategorized

The Stream + Wetlands Foundation wishes to hire a Project Manager to help lead our efforts to restore, enhance, and protect important aquatic resources and associated uplands throughout Ohio and nearby states. We are seeking a person with a minimum of 4 years of experience that includes demonstrated advancing responsibility in the permitting, design, monitoring, and management of wetland and/or stream mitigation projects in the Ohio region. The selected applicant will manage all phases of projects (site selection, planning, design, permitting, construction, adaptive management, and monitoring). Candidates must possess a B.S. or M.S. in civil engineering, ecological engineering, ecology, biology, forestry, or similar degrees.

We offer a comprehensive benefits package, excellent salary, training, and flexible work schedule.  Interested candidates should submit their resume along with a cover letter by email to Vince Messerly at vmesserly@streamandwetlands.org. The position will remain open until filled. The cover letter should describe relevant work experience, why you are interested in this position, your anticipated available start date, and other relevant information.

Category: Uncategorized

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James announced the finalized Navigable Waters Protection Rule at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas on January  23, 2020.  The new rule updates the definition for what are “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS). The new rule will be published in the Federal Register in the coming days and the rule will go into effect 60-days from the publication date. 

The updated WOTUS definition includes four categories of jurisdictional waters, provides exclusions for many water features that had not been regulated and defines terms that had not been defined before.  The four categories of waters that are federally regulated under the new Clean Water Act include:

  • Territorial seas and traditional navigable waters
  • Perennial and intermittent tributaries (streams) to those waters
  • Certain lakes, ponds and impoundments
  • Wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters

Additionally, the new rule attempts to provide clarity regarding what waters are NOT subject to federal protection: those waters include ephemeral streams; groundwater; many ditches, including most farm and roadside ditches; prior converted cropland; farm and stock watering ponds and waste treatment systems.

Stream + Wetlands Foundation is currently reviewing the final WOTUS rule, will continue to monitor activities surrounding its impact, and are available to discuss how this change could affect projects. We will continue to work with permit applicants, their consultants and regulatory agencies to provide high quality compensatory mitigation options that protect, enhance and restore aquatic resources.

Category: Uncategorized

The Stream + Wetlands Foundation is pleased to announce that we have assisted the Medina County Park District with the assembling of a 163-acre wetland preserve in Granger Township that will become a wildlife sanctuary. The Granger wetlands mitigation bank will be the centerpiece of the wetland wildlife sanctuary. The 150-acre mitigation bank was established in 2013. S+W restored the wetlands by disabling drainage tile, constructing small berms and plugging surface drainage. The re-establishment of a wetland plant community was kickstarted by the planting of approximately 50,000 trees and shrubs along with hundreds of pounds of wetland seed mix to foster the growth of a mix of wetland forest, scrub-shrub wetlands, upland forest and emergent marsh habitat. Once S+W has met the goals established for the mitigation bank, funds for long term stewardship of the site will be transferred to the Medina County Park District.

To read the press release about this acquisition, click here.

Category: Uncategorized

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the final rule repealing the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, returning the law to provisions in place prior to 2015. The new rule will go into effect on Dec. 23, 2019 however, legal challenges are expected from environmental groups.

According to the EPA, they are repealing the 2015 rule for four primary reasons:

  1. The 2015 rule did not implement the legal limits on the scope of the agency authority under the Clean Water Act as intended by Congress.
  2. Obama-era rulemaking failed to adequately consider states’ rights.
  3. The repeal is an effort by the EPA to avoid interpretations of the Clean Water Act that “push the envelope of their constitutional and statutory authority.”
  4. The 2015 rule’s distance-based limitations suffered from “certain procedural errors” and a lack of adequate record support.

Stream + Wetlands Foundation (S+W) continues to monitor the activities surrounding the WOTUS rule development. We believe it is important for EPA and USACE to resolve this longstanding problem soon and that a better WOTUS definition would be beneficial to the environment and the regulated community.

A comprise on the WOTUS definition should be followed with revisions to the permitting programs. There are far too many inefficiencies in the permitting programs that result in lost time and money by the regulatory agencies and permit applicants. An improved regulatory program could reduce the time and expense born by agencies and applicants. The time and funds wasted on the inefficient permitting program should then be directed towards improving environmental outcomes in the permitting process.

Category: Uncategorized

On Thursday, Sept. 12, the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers signed a pre-publication version of the repeal of the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Definition. The 2015 WOTUS definition was adopted during the Obama administration and was immediately challenged in multiple district courts. Because some of the court’s that considered initial challenges to the WOTUS rule enjoined its use in those districts, the 2015 definition is currently used in only 22 states as well as in the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories. Meanwhile, in 27 states the pre-2015 WOTUS definition was still in effect (it was unclear which version was applicable in New Mexico). Once published in the Federal Register in the coming weeks, the entire country will once again be subject to the same definition of “waters of the United States”.

The WOTUS definition was first adopted in 1986 and revised in 1988. Since then there have been numerous court cases and subsequent regulatory guidance letters issued by the Corps and EPA in an effort to help reduce confusion and uncertainties for the regulated community and regulatory agency personnel. Due to regulatory uncertainties it is important for the WOTUS definition to be resolved. The Supreme Court in a number of its prior rulings has encouraged the Corps and EPA to clarify the WOTUS definition through the rule making process rather than through the issuance of additional guidance.

The repeal rule will be published in the Federal Register during the next couple of weeks and will become effective 60 days after publication. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said they are targeting late 2019 for a separate rule that will establish new standards for the replacement WOTUS definition. The new standards were set forth in a proposed rule issued in the Federal Register on February 14, 2019.

Stream + Wetlands Foundation (S+W) continues to monitor the activities surrounding the WOTUS rule development. S+W believes it is important for EPA and USACE to resolve this longstanding problem soon. We believe that a better WOTUS definition would be beneficial to the environment and the regulated community. A comprise on the WOTUS definition should be followed with revisions to the permitting programs. There are far too many inefficiencies in the permitting programs that result in lost time and money by the regulatory agencies and permit applicants. An improved regulatory program could reduce the time and expense born by agencies and applicants. The time and funds wasted on the inefficient permitting program should then be directed towards improving environmental outcomes in the permitting process.

Category: Uncategorized

Managing our Water in a Changing World: from Social, Environmental, and Policy Perspectives” is the theme of Ohio University’s Ohio River Basin Consortium for Research and Education – Ohio River Basin Alliance (ORBCRE-ORBA) Symposium which will take place Oct. 2-4, 2019.

Interested in presenting? If so, please submit a one-page abstract to Danny Che, assistant professor of civil engineering at che@ohio.edu, and indicate whether it will be a poster or a 20-minute oral presentation. For more information, please visit their website.

Category: Uncategorized

The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs is accepting applications for a graduate student assistantship funded by the Stream and Wetlands Foundation that will support students engaged in interdisciplinary and applied research opportunities.

Full-time, degree-seeking graduate students enrolled in or accepted for admission to an Ohio University graduate program appropriate to studying applied stream and wetland restoration science, education, or policy may apply for an assistantship. For the assistantship opportunity, funding includes graduate stipends and some research project costs. Duration of support ranges from one semester to two years (2020-2022), depending on the needs and progress of the student.

Find out more details by visiting the Voinovich School website here. https://tinyurl.com/y3haadyj

Category: Uncategorized

Botanist and Wetland Ecologist Timothy L. Walters, Ph.D., announces the return of a sedge/grass/rush workshop. The 4-day course will be held August, 20-23, 2019 in northwestern Ohio. The workshop combines both field identification and in-class keying of specimens (no previous experience required). About 40 percent of the species will be sedges (primarily non-Carex), while about 50 percent will be grasses and the last 10% will be rushes. For more details, visit the website http://carexclasses.webs.com.

Category: Uncategorized

The EPA and Department of the Army are moving forward proposing a new definition of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS), publishing an official rule in the Federal Register on Feb. 14. This is the second in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of WOTUS.

On Feb. 27 and 28, the EPA and Army will be holding a public hearing on the proposed WOTUS rule at the Reardon Convention Center in Kansas City, Kansas. For more details about the public hearing, visit the EPA website.

Stream + Wetlands Foundation continues to monitor all activities surrounding the WOTUS rule development. We are hopeful a reasonable WOTUS definition can be achieved soon to help improve predictability for permit applicants and the regulatory agencies.

EPA and USACE Announce New WOTUS Definition

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James announced the finalized Navigable Waters Protection Rule at the National Association of

EPA Finalizes Rule to Repeal WOTUS

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the final rule repealing the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, returning the law to provisions in place prior to

Return of Sedge/Grass/Rush Workshop

Botanist and Wetland Ecologist Timothy L. Walters, Ph.D., announces the return of a sedge/grass/rush workshop. The 4-day course will be held August, 20-23, 2019 in northwestern Ohio. The workshop combines both

WOTUS Rule Update

The EPA and Department of the Army are moving forward proposing a new definition of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS), publishing an official rule in the Federal Register