Outdoor learning and access to nature provides positive benefits for children of all ages. Beyond reduction of stress and enhanced concentration, outdoor learning is a popular activity that can be
Outdoor learning and access to nature provides positive benefits for children of all ages. Beyond reduction of stress and enhanced concentration, outdoor learning is a popular activity that can be easily adapted to adhere to current public health guidelines. Most of these programs are provided by nature centers, outdoor-science schools, parks and zoos.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, is threatening the survival of programs that provide outdoor environmental and science education as well. An article by the University of California Berkeley points out that, because of significant revenue losses, nearly 63 percent of 1,000 outdoor-education programs for K-12 students are in danger of closing, with little chance of reopening. Additional information about COVID’s effects on environmental and outdoor education programs can be found by reading this Lawrence Hall of Science article.
Nationwide Permits (NWPs) are necessary for work in streams, wetlands and other waters of the United States under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. On Sept. 15, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) posted a draft of their proposal to reissue and modify its existing NWPs in the Federal Register. This includes a proposal to issue five new NWPs. With these modifications, the USACE hopes to simplify and clarify the NWPs, reduce burdens on the regulated public, and continue to comply with the statutory requirement that these NWPs authorize only activities with no more than minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects.
One of the proposed new NWP would authorize discharges of dredged or fill material into jurisdictional waters for the construction, expansion, and maintenance of water reuse and reclamation facilities. Two of the other proposed NWPs would authorize certain categories of mariculture activities (i.e., seaweed and finfish mariculture) that are not authorized by NWP 48. Lastly, the USACE is also proposing to divide NWP12, which authorizes utility line activities, into two separate NWPs including:
- Modify the current utility line NWP 12 to authorize only oil and natural gas pipeline activities.
- Two proposed new NWPs would authorize activities associated with the construction, maintenance, repair, and removal of electric utility lines/telecommunication lines and utility lines that convey water, sewage, and other substances.
The comment period runs until November 16, 2020. The current version of the Nationwide Permits (2017) expire on March 28, 2021. S+W is currently reviewing the NWP for wetland and stream restoration projects as well as NWPs that may affect our clients. We are available to assist you and your organization as you review the new requirements of the 2021 NWPs. Feel free to contact us to further discuss the language and ramifications of these new proposed permits
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Lake Erie and Aquatic Research Network (LEARN) have partnered on the H2Ohio’s wetland monitoring plan to assess the effectiveness and future role of implemented and planned wetland restoration projects. This collaboration will study different types of wetlands to determine which are the most cost-effective for mitigating nutrient runoff to Ohio waters, will track the effectiveness of wetland efforts and inform future wetland construction and maintenance.
LEARN researchers from universities across Ohio including Bowling Green State University, Heidelberg University, Kent State University, The Ohio State University, The University of Toledo and Wright State University will take samples from wetlands being currently constructed and planned in the near future. The monitoring plan hopes to address the question of whether restored wetlands can effectively mitigate nutrient pollution while, at the same time, provide benefits like wildlife habitat.
LEARN a group of field stations, scientific laboratories and diverse researchers within Ohio working together to promote collaborative research, education and networking to address the challenges and opportunities facing Ohio’s freshwater resources. For more information, read this press release on ODNR’s website.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) reinstated the use of Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 – used to authorize certain actions during utility line construction – in a ruling on July 6. Originally, in April, a federal court in Montana determined that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wrongly issued the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project. This action halted the construction of this pipeline.
In Monday’s ruling, the SCOTUS allowed the permit to go back into effect for most pipeline construction, however, the ruling refused to renew the use of the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The ruling was deemed a setback for the Keystone project even though other pipelines can now use the permit.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- Obama-era rulemaking failed to adequately consider states’ rights.
- 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.”
- 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.
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.
Nationwide Permits (NWPs) are necessary for work in streams, wetlands and other waters of the United States under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Lake Erie and Aquatic Research Network (LEARN) have partnered on the H2Ohio’s wetland monitoring plan to assess the effectiveness and future
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) reinstated the use of Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 – used to authorize certain actions during utility line construction – in a ruling
Stream + Wetlands Foundation Provides Large Wetland Mitigation Project for Proposed Battery Cell Plant in Mahoning Valley
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
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
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
With help from the Stream + Wetlands Foundation, Medina County Park District acquires Granger Wetlands Wildlife Sancturary
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
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
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