April 21, 2017
By Karrie Johnson – Associate, Environmental Specialist
Spring is here and we can now leave the office and get out into the sunshine and fresh air!
Clark Engineering’s Environmental Team has been gearing up for this all winter long – polishing the boots, pulling the shovels out of the corner, updating data, and hitting the grassy fields. A winter of writing reports and proposals and attending professional development events and trade shows was enjoyable and rewarding, but we are very excited to get back out in the field.
We are passionate about protecting our natural resources. Environmental issues are becoming more of a concern due to the increasing population, pollution, and disturbance of the land. We continually look for team members who are just as passionate about wetlands and the environment as we are.
Looking ahead, our Environmental Team has a lot to accomplish in the short field season. Work includes wetland delineations and assessments, monitoring of mitigation sites, maintenance of wetlands, field inspections, and fish seining for our private and public clients in South Dakota and Minnesota.
Our clients rely on our expertise when dealing with wetlands. Special permits are required when wetland impacts occur. Projects can begin at the permitting or wetland delineation phase. When completing wetland delineations, we determine wetland boundaries by analyzing the hydrology, vegetation, and soils. In order to be a wetland, all three criteria need to be met. Once these wetland boundaries have been determined and the impacts analyzed, wetland mitigation may be required.
Mitigation is the process of compensating for impacts at either an on- or off-site location, or calculating credits to be purchased from a wetland bank. If a wetland is enhanced or created due to mitigation, these areas are monitored annually to record and measure the development of the wetland in a timely manner.
Mitigated wetlands require monitoring for a minimum of five years. Monitoring is done in a similar fashion as wetland delineations, by looking at the progress of vegetation, soils, and hydrology and comparing it over the years of establishment.
Certain Section 404 Permits of the Clean Water Act require fish monitoring for the Topeka Shiner, an endangered species. We use fish nets during construction projects when areas need to be dewatered or channels temporarily relocated. Fish are relocated downstream to prevent entrapment of this endangered species. This process is called fish seining and is completed within riverine systems. Clark’s biologist on site identifies caught fish when necessary and ensures that the habitat is restored.
There’s something exciting about every project, whether it’s a plant species, a tool in GIS, effectively writing a report on a highway corridor, or discussing the importance of protecting an endangered species. While our field season is short and there is a lot to do, our team has been preparing for this season and is eager to begin.