Federal Emergency Management Agency Biological Assessment for Arizona.
Federal Emergency Management was initially challenged in 2009 with regard to compliance of its National Flood Insurance Program with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. To comply with a court-ordered deadline, EcoPlan prepared a Biological Assessment addressing impacts of the program on listed and proposed species in Arizona. The Biological Assessment addressed potential effects of the program, including mapping, floodplain management criteria, and the community rating system on 59 listed, 3 proposed, and 15 candidate species. EcoPlan used GIS to analyze effects on species in a programmatic fashion. This included overlaying species data onto special flood hazard zones. These data included known species distributions/records, designated or proposed critical habitat, and mapped suitable habitat. These data were overlaid onto mapped special flood hazard zones and boundaries of communities participating in the program, allowing assessment of number of species and extent of habitat potentially affected by agency actions under the program. Flood insurance policies issued were added as a layer in GIS to determine the relationship to species habitats. EcoPlan then worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop conservation measures for species. We also worked with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in “deconstructing” each activity type that has occurred in special hazard flood areas in Arizona in the past. These have been used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop effects pathways in its Information for Planning and Conservation system with the objective of allowing proponents to obtain standard mitigation measures to guide compliance with the ESA based on project location and the types of activities involved.
Red Lodge Mountain Land Exchange Environmental Assessment
EcoPlan prepared an Environmental Assessment for the proposed exchange of 250 acres of Federal lands for 382 acres of non-Federal lands on the Beartooth Mountains Ranger District of the Custer Gallatin National Forest in southwestern Montana. EcoPlan used GIS to support data analysis and preparation of graphics for the Environmental Assessment and associated specialist and technical reports. Prior to field investigation, existing data layers for vegetation, wetlands, riparian area were overlaid on topographic and aerial base field maps. Field data were collected with Global Positioning System instrumentation to map the extent of wetlands, riparian areas, noxious weeds, cultural resource sites, and other features of note. EcoPlan performed analyses of impacts to resources based on their distribution mapped in the field and available on the Custer Gallatin National Forest and Montana Natural Heritage Program GIS portals. For example, GIS was used to analyze impacts of the land exchange and construction of a recreational trail on designated critical habitat and habitat structural stages for lynx, prepared foraging habitat for grizzly bear, and nesting areas for the Northern goshawk, and other resources of interest.
Colorado Department of Transportation Noxious Weed Inventory and Mapping, Statewide Colorado
EcoPlan completed an inventory and mapping of State-listed Category A, B, and C noxious weeds along all Colorado Department of Transportation-jurisdiction highways and interstates in the State of Colorado, totaling nearly 10,000 centerline miles. The project involved coordination with county and state weed managers, Colorado Department of Transportation maintenance districts, and Colorado Department of Transportation GIS staff. Field inventories were completed using Trimble Global Positioning System instrumentation to map the extent, species composition, percent cover, and other attributes of listed noxious weed patches. The project involved multiple field crews and employed mobile traffic safety measures (crash vehicles) along high traffic volume highways and interstates. The inventory was conducted in all biotic zones in Colorado, from plains to alpine tundra. More than 45 species and nearly 16,000 discrete weed patches were mapped, including the distribution of several Category A species. EcoPlan prepared geodatabases that were imported by Colorado Department of Transportation to perform quality control, direct and prioritize weed treatment, and monitor changes in noxious weed distribution over time. EcoPlan presented the results of the inventory at the annual Colorado Weed Management Association conference in Grand Junction.