Still a few spots remaining! Reach out to Register today!! 2024 HYDRIC SOILS TRAINING CLASS

Final Revised ESA Section 7 Rule released – Off-Site Offsets as “Reasonable and Prudent Measures”

On March 27, 2024, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued three final #rules aimed to improve and strengthen implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Generally, these revised #regulations will affect the methods by which the Service classifies and lists species, designates critical habitat, conducts interagency coordination, evaluates reasonable and prudent measures, including third-party mitigation options, and how threatened species are treated under the ESA (blanket 4(d) rule). These new rules effectively rescind numerous regulatory changes that had been promulgated during the Trump administration.

Do not hesitate to contact Vince Messerly, PE or Greg Snowden, MS, PWS, CERP to see how these new regulations may affect your project.

More information is available from USFWS here: https://lnkd.in/gZY2ciSj

#species#endangeredspecies#conservation#nature#esa#usfws

https://www.fws.gov/project/endangered-species-act-regulation-revisions

Stream + Wetlands Foundation Internship Opportunity: Summer 2024

Start Date: Summer 2024

Length of Internship: 12+/- weeks

Schedule: 4/10 work schedule

Work Location: Columbus, OH area

Compensation: $20 to $25 per hour depending on education and prior work experience

Application deadline: March 1, 2024, or until filled

Overview: Stream + Wetlands Foundation (S+W) offers paid summer internships to candidates interested in ecological restoration practices. Successful candidates must enjoy being outdoors and will work alongside experienced biologists and assist with restoration site monitoring and management activities (revegetation efforts, invasive plant management, field vegetation surveys). Occasional overnight travel will be required.

Who should apply: Applicants must have completed at least 2 years of college, or equivalent experience, with an interest in stream and wetland habitat restoration and management. Candidates should be capable of strenuous work including lifting more than 50 pounds, digging, and sustained walking in unpredictable and adverse weather conditions. The work meeting location is the Lancaster/Columbus, OH area; local candidates are preferred. Start and end dates are flexible based on the candidate’s availability.

How to apply: Please submit a cover letter and CV/resume to sbailey@streamandwetlands.org by March 1, 2024. Initial application screening will be based on the candidate’s submitted documents. Final selections will be determined by an in-person/virtual interview.

About us: S+W is a non-profit company based in Lancaster, Ohio that specializes in restoring wetlands and streams throughout Ohio. Our work also includes supporting the education, recreation, and research of aquatic resources and associated habitat and functions.

S+W is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to non-discriminatory policies. All decisions regarding recruitment, hiring, promotion and all other terms of employment will be made without regard to race, color, religion, age, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, marital status, status as a qualified handicapped or disabled individual, or any other impermissible factor in accordance with applicable laws.

Stream + Wetlands Foundation Scholarship Application Opens December 1st, 2023

Applications will be available starting December 1st, 2023 for the Stream + Wetlands Foundation scholarships for the 2024-2025 academic year. The scholarship fund is held and managed by the Fairfield County Foundation (FCF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to enhancing the quality of life and economic viability of the Fairfield County community. Applications and a letter of interest must be submitted through the FCF website by Friday, March 8, 2024. Visit the FCF website at: https://www.fairfieldcountyfoundation.org/scholarships.

The Stream and Wetlands Foundation launched this scholarship to benefit students who are residents of Ohio and are attending a school in Ohio that show an exceptional level of commitment to the restoration of aquatic resources, water quality, and/or aquatic resource policy. The scholarship is available for students studying to obtain an Associate or Bachelor of Science degree in the field of environmental science that have completed at least 1 academic year of college and maintain a 2.5 or higher cumulative GPA.

Please feel free to contact Stream + Wetlands’ Controller Megan Garber at mgarber@streamandwetlands.org with any questions about the scholarship or submittal requirements. For questions regarding the Fairfield County Foundation or the scholarship process, contact Senior Program Officer Abby King at aking@fairfieldcountyfoundation.org or Program Officer Andrea Spires at aspires@fairfieldcountyfoundation.org or call (740) 654-8451.

Wetland Credit Release in the Grand River Watershed

Stream + Wetlands Foundation is excited to announce the regulatory approval of our Hemlock Swamp Wetland Mitigation Bank in Ashtabula County, Ohio. The 147-acre site is located in the Grand River watershed (HUC 04110004) and will generate forested and non-forested wetland mitigation credits that can be used for Section 404/401 and Ohio isolated wetland permits.

The project preserved a high-quality, groundwater fed, hemlock swamp community. This type of wetland is unique in Ohio, only occurring within the lake plain or Grand River lowlands in Ashtabula County in the far northeast corner of the State. Hemlock swamps are regularly targeted for conservation because they support impressive vegetative diversity while regularly providing habitat for rare, threatened, or endangered species.

Contact Kellie Griffin to inquire about credit availability for your project.


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. EPA issue revised definition of Waters of the United States

On August 29, 2023, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. EPA issued a final rule to amend the “Revised Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’” (2023 WOTUS) rule, published in the Federal Register on January 18, 2023.

The agencies believe the amended rule conforms the definition of “Waters of the United States” to the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 25, 2023 decision in the case of Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency. However, there remain outstanding legal challenges to the 2023 WOTUS rule that will prevent it from going into effect in 27 states (see map below and on the EPA website for information purposes only). At this time, it is unclear if legal challenges to the 2023 WOTUS rule will be dropped. 

Two major changes were made under the new rule, including:

  • Clarification that wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act must have a continuous surface connection to navigable waterways with a relatively permanent water.
  • Removal of the highly debated “significant nexus” test, which was used to determine whether there was a connection between small and large bodies of water.

The amended rule became effective upon publication in the Federal Register on September 8, 2023. You can see the published rule here or download the entire document by clicking the image below.

In the 23 states where the January 2023 Rule is not enjoined, the agencies will implement the January 2023 Rule, as amended by the conforming rule.

Please visit the EPA’s Rule Status page for additional information about the status of the January 2023 Rule, as amended, and litigation. Learn more about the EPA’s current implementation of the definition of “Waters of the United States” here.

Contact Vince Messerly, PE or Greg Snowden, MS, PWS, CERP with questions about how this change may affect your project.

S+W to Celebrate 10 Years of Collaboration with Ohio University

Working Together to Build a Body of Knowledge around Streams and Wetlands

The Stream + Wetlands Foundation (S+W) will soon begin its 10th year as a proud partner of Ohio University’s  Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service (Voinovich School), which advances student research in watershed and wetlands programs. In addition to expanded research, our partnership enables the school to increase its academic support of the Master of Science in Environmental Studies and other programs with applied watershed and wetlands projects.

The Voinovich School integrates scholarship and hands-on learning to solve environmental problems. Support by S+W increases funding for talented students to gain practical experience with environmental research projects under the direction of faculty and professional staff. Much of their work focuses on the coal-bearing region of Ohio and specifically addresses the impacts of acid mine drainage (AMD) from abandoned coal mines.

The S+W Student Research Support Fund, a four-year commitment established at the school in 2015, provides funding for two full-time graduate students through the completion of their graduate studies. School officials have stated that the funds provided by S+W are “immensely important to our graduate students, providing the needed support for them to complete the program.” According to Matthew Roberts, senior director, Corporate & Foundation Relations at Ohio University—Office of Corporate Engagement, “The support from the Stream + Wetlands Foundation provides these students with practical and hands-on learning and is perfectly aligned with our environmental program’s focus—water.”

Through our partnership, students are provided the opportunity to be out in the field and actually make an impact. The stability of the four-year commitment by S+W is “absolutely essential to the successful completion of projects and to the school’s recruiting efforts,” said Jen Bowman, director of Environmental Programs at the Voinovich School. “Through our collaboration, we are building a body of knowledge around streams and wetlands which is significant, especially with the current lack of research on wetlands, especially in Ohio.”

To date, four Ohio University graduate students have received funding through this research support initiative. Their work ranges from examining the impact of invasive cattails on the wetland ecosystem and pollinator and prairie growth in the riparian buffer of the Hocking River to domestic wastewater treatment in rural areas not connected to a sewage system and analyzing water quality at S+W’s  Bloody Run Swamp Site before, during and after construction.

In addition to supporting the Voinovich School through its research support grant, S+W is also funding a second graduate student who is leading the water quality data collection at the Bloody Run Swamp site that is located in Licking County, Ohio. This study is in conjunction with S+W’s recently completed restoration of the Bloody Run Swamp Site. The S+W project objectives included establishing more than 3,400 feet of natural stream channel that replaced a highly degraded and entrenched drainage ditch. This on-site portion of the Bloody Run stream is now connected and is engaging its floodplain, allowing water to access the 70+ acres of re-established wetland habitat.

The primary purpose of the students’ data collection and applied research is to determine how the S+W project has affected water quality. Since 2021, the students have collected water samples at the site, including pre- and mid-construction phases. They are currently in the final phase of their study—post-construction.

While their findings have not been published yet, they were able to identify a significant amount of “legacy” sediment and nutrients before construction began. This was not surprising since the most of the 3,200-acre watershed has been farmland for nearly 200 years. As part of their thesis research and in this last phase, the students are collecting water samples every two weeks and analyzing the samples in the school laboratory. “Not only has S+W provided a nice playground for our graduate students with this project,” said Sebastion Teas, environmental specialist – Water Quality, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service at Ohio University. “It is great exposure to what this type of work entails—a sort of practice round for those considering a career in this field.” The school also presents hands-on opportunities to undergraduates considering pursuing a master’s degree in environmental science or related programs.

In addition to collecting water samples, one student working on an Environmental Leadership Capstone in the Environmental Studies Department at the Voinovich School, Alexie McFarland, collected macroinvertebrate samples at the site. “Conducting macroinvertebrate sampling at Bloody Run is exciting for me as an undergraduate student as no biological data has been collected here,” she said. “Expanding my skill set with the team by learning more about water quality and soil collection is also important for me. I look forward to analyzing how macroinvertebrate population densities differ at each site, and eventually, further data can be collected to compare how the wetland is progressing.”

The students were also shown some interesting relics discovered by the S+W construction team. Excavation during the construction of the project revealed what appeared to be relic beaver dens that held numerous logs exhibiting telltale beaver teeth marks. Carbon dating showed logs pulled from one of the dens to be nearly 12,000 years old, or shortly after the end of the Wisconsin Glaciation period.  

Most recently, Sebastian and the team saw the immediate benefits of the construction firsthand. Following a significant rain, they saw that the former crop field was completely flooded—clearly demonstrating that the re-established wetland is working as intended.

The re-establishment of wetlands on the project, a culmination of years of innovation and hard work, is aiding in improving water quality within the watershed, reducing flooding and providing greenspace and habitat for many years to come.  Visit the S+W website to learn more about the history of the Bloody Run Swamp.

Wetland Credit Release in the Black-Rocky Watershed

Stream + Wetlands Foundation has received a release of forested and non-forested credits from our Black-Rocky Umbrella Mitigation Bank! The credits were generated from our Grafton Swamp site (pictured below) within the Black-Rocky 8-digit HUC watershed west of Cleveland. They can be used to satisfy mitigation needs for 404/401 and isolated wetland permits.

Please contact Kellie Griffin by email at kgriffin@streamandwetlands.org or call 740-654-4016 ext. 101 to confirm availability and to reserve credits.

#wetlands#cleanwateract#mitigation#ohio#environment#ecologicalrestoration#ecology

H2Ohio Funding 2024 and 2025 State Fiscal Years

Since its inception in 2019, the #H2Ohio program administered by Ohio EPAOhio Department of Natural Resources, and Ohio Department of Agriculture, has worked to improve water quality in Lake Erie and across Ohio.

Originally funded in the 2020-2021 state biennium at $172 million, the 2024-2025 state fiscal year budget signed by Gov. Mike DeWine on July 5th increased H2Ohio’s funding to $270 million!

https://h2.ohio.gov/

#wetlands#phosphorous#lakeerie#environment#waterquality#ohio#nutrients#runoff

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“Regulatory Update – Waters of the United States and Approved Jurisdictional Determinations”

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Sackett case, the US Army Corps of Engineers suspended issuance of Approved Jurisdictional Determinations (AJDs). AJDs are the vehicle by which the Corps formally identifies what wetlands, streams, and other waterbodies are subject to regulation under the federal Clean Water Act. Without an AJD, a project can not realize the reduction in the reach of federal regulation post-Sackett.

During a budget hearing held yesterday in the U.S House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Assistant Secretary of the Army Michael Connor stated that the Corps and USEPA intend to promulgate a new, final Waters of the US rule “expeditiously” using the Administrative Procedure Act’s direct final rule process. This direct final rule process would be completed in-lieu of creating temporary guidance to allow AJDs to be issued in the near term. Connor stated, “I don’t expect that we’ll be back in the approved jurisdictional determination business until we get this final rule in place.”

Importantly, the Administrative Procedure Act’s direct final rule process is intended for routine or non-controversial matters; it does not allow for the agency to receive substantive adverse comments. Due to the contentious nature of WOTUS, it is feasible that a direct final rule approach could result in additional delays in rulemaking (and thus issuance of AJDs in accordance with the principles of Sackett) should the agencies have to withdraw the direct final rule and proceed through the full rulemaking process.

Please contact Vince Messerly or Greg Snowden with questions on how these regulatory changes may affect your project.”

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