Florida’s ecology is delicate and irreplaceable, which makes it a critical element in many engineering projects. The services that our environmental team offers is ecological assessments, threatened and endangered species surveys habitat restoration, preparation of permit applications, mitigation design, digital image mapping and wetland determinations. Through careful planning, a balance between nature and man can be achieved, preserving the environment for future generations.
Johnson Engineering can help you understand the constraints and opportunities of a site you are purchasing or developing. Our ecologists conduct environmental assessments to determine the potential presence of state and federally listed species, vegetation communities, jurisdictional wetlands, and natural resources. Assessments may include a detailed wildlife survey, hydrological evaluation, review of historical aerial photographs, and other site-specific environmental concerns that may affect development of the parcel.
An environmental assessment assists you in recognizing the environmental conditions present in order to help you plan and develop site species strategies. We prepare and submit a report summarizing the findings, which helps in determining if your site objectives will be simple or complex to achieve. This assessment will also assist in site planning to aid in maximizing value, and avoiding costly permitting or engineering problems. We can help you obtain and understand the facts and assist you in finding and implementing a workable solution.
Environmental Resource Permitting (ERP)
The Johnson Engineering environmental team of experienced ecologists is adept at taking a project from the preliminary planning stages to post-permit compliance. One of the major components in achieving the end goal is the issuance of an environmental resource permit (ERP) from one of the state water management districts or from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and potentially a federal dredge and fill permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). An ERP is required when a project proposes impacts to jurisdictional wetlands and/or surface waters. Our environmental team compiles technical information regarding wetlands, listed species, critical habitat, secondary and cumulative impact analyses, and mitigation analyses that supplement the ERP application. Through the ERP process, agency personnel will review the application and supplemental information regarding the project. The firm’s close working relationships with agency staff allows our team to resolve most issues in a timely manner to bring your vision closer to reality.
Phase I Environmental Site Assessments
A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is sometimes required as a part of development, purchase or refinance of a piece of real estate. The purpose of a Phase I ESA is to identify recognized environmental conditions (RECs) associated with the current and historical use of a property and its adjoining properties. The term REC includes hazardous substances or petroleum products even under conditions in compliance with laws. The Phase I ESA also assesses nearby sources of contamination and the potential impact to the subject property from these sources. Our assessments include a search of state and federal government records, historical use information, site reconnaissance and interviews. The assessments are conducted in accordance to the latest ASTM E1527 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments and All Appropriate Inquiry in Code of Federal Regulations Title 40 part 312. Our established partnership with a leading provider of environmental risk and historical data helps meet the individual needs of our clients without sacrificing quality.
If a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) identifies potential contamination on the piece of real estate, sampling as part of a Phase II ESA may be conducted. The Phase II ESA is a comprehensive investigation that can include various types of sampling for petroleum products and/or hazardous substances including metals and pesticides. Our team of environmental scientists is trained in soil, surface water, and groundwater sampling techniques in accordance with Florida Department of Environmental Protection Standard Operating Procedures. From collecting samples for analysis to evaluating the results, our team has the knowledge, experience, technology, and expertise to conduct these unique assessments.
Our ecologists have been conducting wetland assessments throughout Florida for projects ranging from under one acre to more than 90,000 acres. Recent projects requiring wetland assessments include the Forum, Magnolia Landing, Three Oaks Parkway expansion, and Bonita Springs River Park. Our ecologists routinely conduct jurisdictional determinations with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), and state water management districts. Our team members are trained in federal and state wetland delineation methodologies, including the 1987 USACE wetland delineation manual and Florida Administrative Code 62-340. We were the first firm in Southwest Florida to utilize global positioning system (GPS) technology for wetland delineations. Our team continues to invest in new technologies that increase efficiency and provide faster and more accurate information for our clients. For projects that result in unavoidable wetland impacts, our team is adept at conducting various wetland functional assessments, including the Wetland Rapid Assessment Procedure (WRAP) and the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM). These methodologies evaluate the wetland’s geographic location and landscape support, vegetative community structure, hydrology, and wildlife utilization to establish the functional loss of the impact and the appropriate compensatory mitigation required during the ERP process.
Our environmental team has experience designing successful mitigation areas through innovative approaches. We are able to pull from the expertise in our ecology, hydrogeology and engineering experts to design mitigation areas that meet their success criteria in a timely manner and hence quickly benefit the environment. We also provide the ecological services necessary to effectively monitor areas.
We have the skills and experience necessary to navigate our clients through the ever-changing environmental regulations and wildlife agency requirements concerning threatened and endangered species and their habitats. Our team has professional ecologists who have assisted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in developing guidelines for development activities near nesting crested caracaras, bald eagles, and gopher tortoises. We are currently permitting two Florida panther conservation banks totaling more than 1,700 acres. Our team routinely prepares listed species inventories and management plans, and conducts endangered species surveys, monitoring, relocations, and wildlife hazard assessments. Our ecologists have experience working with the Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) and the USFWS to prepare biological assessments and biological opinions in accordance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 for numerous species, including the Florida panther and wood stork. This requires calculating mitigation requirements, and conducting cumulative impact assessments and prey studies. Our GIS and GPS mapping technologies allow the firm to integrate spatially referenced landscape data with listed species occurrences and habitat requirements. These tools enable our environmental team to provide site planning options and quality habitat management decisions that consistently exceed client expectations.
Our environmental team offers a broad range of services to assist our clients with marine and coastal projects (i.e. docks, boat ramps, dredging, coastal park amenities, boardwalks, dune restoration). Our ecologists have experience in conducting the environmental surveys necessary for such projects. The information from these surveys is used to assist the client with project design and minimization of environmental impacts. Our ecologist’s knowledge of local, state, and federal rules and regulations related to marine and coastal projects, as well as good working relationships with various agencies staff, facilitates agency review of projects. If marine and coastal projects involve work on state-owned submerged lands, our ecologists are extremely familiar with the items necessary to obtain sovereign submerged lands authorizations. Our ecologists are fully capable of providing thorough, quality services for marine and coastal projects.
Our team of ecologists and GIS specialists has integrated the use of GIS when setting up and conducting Wildlife Hazard Assessments to provide meaningful results to the airport. We also have the expertise to conduct Design Review, based on FAA regulations, for projects on and near airports to determine their potential contribution to the hazardous wildlife risk at an airport. Our ecologists have received FAA-approved training for the management of hazardous wildlife on airports.