Wrapping up 2015 at Grand Environmental
December 3, 2015
December 3, 2015
Wrapping 2015 at Grand Environmental
2015 has been a banner year for Grand Environmental, with the Real Estate market back in full swing and a small team helping more than 20 local clients meet their land-management goals. Environmental Studies Intern Andrew Wise and I performed 12 jurisdictional wetland delineations (JDs) as well as several rapid-reconnaissance site visits to facilitate property transfers. This continues our priority, stretching way back ~20 years, of helping property buyers and sellers clarify natural resource values while shaping cost-effective building envelopes and utility alignments.
It was a strong Grand Lake year, with much of our work focused on helping folks begin developing their lakeshore properties, mostly boathouse and dock projects but also erosion control and water systems. We’re proud to see two of those installations we permitted already complete, and another timber-crib foundation in place and winterized ready for DZ Construction to get a jump on Spring snowmelt. Perhaps most satisfying was securing multi-agency support for replacing the Town of Grand Lake Boat Launch at East Inlet including Corps 404 Permit, Bureau of Reclamation NEPA review, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife considerations.
We were back working in-stream again this Fall during that narrow window between Songbird nesting (Spring through mid-Summer) and Brown Trout spawning (generally October, when water temperature drop). Working with M3 Construction Services Andy Miller and John Ferguson, we completed three river-riparian projects combining bank stabilization, headgate/ditch maintenance, and trout habitat. We reduced client costs significantly this year in part because I decided, on my 60th Birthday this last April, to learn how to operate backhoes and mid-sized excavators myself. Clearly there will always be a need for big, manly excavators in certain situations, but we can now finesse our way into some intriguing, low profile projects with less rock and lower overall impacts, often working by hand along side smaller machines.
Let the Water Do the Work
One of the coolest developments in the stream-restoration world comes from the work of Bill Zeedyk and Van Clothier (Quivira Coalition) developing low-cost, ag-friendly, adaptive techniques. The Zeedyk “Let the Water Do the Work” approach fits well with small-team projects cultivating natural river-riparian recovery processes over multiple years rather than forcing highly engineered change with big machines. We’d love to see river restoration move back toward landowner-friendly techniques that better fit our Colorado ranching landscape.
Continuing with watershed work, we’re advising several clients on co-existing with beaver populations including designs for “Beaver Deceivers” to reduce flooding and “Zuni Bowls” to manage lateral headcutting. With so much of our headwaters flowing elsewhere, beaver dams are often the only good over-winter habitat in many streams, improving the fishery while promoting riparian recovery at very low cost to the landowner; that is, if we can reasonably manage collateral damage.
We’re also pleased to have worked with the Colorado Water Trust to negotiate the first ever water-right-conservation plan under the new SB-19 legislation which allows landowners to leave water in-stream during dry years without penalty. This is clearly a win-win for Colorado and our clients.
2016 and Beyond
Looking ahead, we’ll be working this Winter on a half dozen wetland permits, building on field work this last Summer to give Builders a jump on 2016. Finally, we’re proud to welcome new Wetland Intern Sarah Merrit to Grand Environmental. Sarah and Andrew will be tasked with speeding up our land consultations in 2016 to better serve our friends in Real Estate and Construction.
Thanks again for your interest in Grand Environmental, please do not hesitate to drop us a line to discuss your project needs.