Knowledge Center

  • The Healthy Forests Restoration Act and Community Wildfire Protection Plans

    Chris BockeyWildfire season is fast approaching and agencies and communities across the West are reviewing, revising, and updating strategies to protect land from severe wildfire threat. As an Arizona environmental planning firm, Logan Simpson’s wildfire planning specialists have recently completed the 2014 Cochise County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) and 2014 Maricopa County CWPP Update as a result of the need for these counties to have established and updated plans in place.
    read more

  • Arizona Cultural Resources: Pottery Origins as a Practical Domestic Technology

    Christopher Garraty, Ph.D., RPA

    As one of Logan Simpson’s cultural resource consultants, I have been conducting research on ancient pottery in southern and central Arizona for the past eight years. The archaeological study of pottery and ceramics is crucial for understanding the ancient life ways of people prior to the introduction of written records. These valuable Arizona cultural resources, along with stone tools, are well-preserved and abundant at most archaeological sites in the state. In contrast, many other important cultural resources, such as food, wood, and fiber, are perishable and do not preserve in the archaeological record. Studying ceramics provides archaeologists with information about what people ate, their customs and technologies, artisan crafting practices, gender roles, patterns of exchange, views of religion and cosmologies, and many other important insights.
    read more

  • London Bridge Tourist Attraction and Bat Roosting Habitat

    Nearly 50 years ago the London Bridge (of nursery rhyme fame), was disassembled and shipped overseas from London to California. It was then trucked to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where it was reconstructed and rededicated in October 1971. Kay Nicholson, a senior member of Logan Simpson’s team of biological resource specialists, recently completed a bat survey of the bridge in advance of maintenance work to repair and make safety improvements. read more

  • Inventory of Motorized Routes on BLM Lands

    Logan Simpson’s road and trail inventory team is assisting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) by verifying and classifying transportation routes that traverse BLM-managed lands.

    The BLM is charged with managing more than 245 million acres of U.S. land for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Their transportation networks provide access for recreation, hunting, grazing, and mineral extraction.  These networks change over time, creating the need for travel management. read more

  • 4 Tips for Writing a Concise National Environmental Policy Act Document

    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was written in 1969, the intent was to provide a mechanism that:

    • Provided decision-makers with environmental planning information.
    • Offered the public a way to participate in the decision-making process.

    The idea was to provide as concise of an answer as possible. Those writing the Act envisioned environmental assessments (EAs) that did not exceed 10 pages in length, and environmental impact statements (EIS) that were under 150 pages. Today, it is not uncommon for EAs to reach 500 pages and EIS to run into the thousands.  How can NEPA consultants reach the primary objectives for informed decisions and public involvement, when documents become so large and cumbersome that they become nearly impossible to understand?

    Here are some general guidelines to writing concise, focused and defensible NEPA documents that provide decision-makers with accurate information, and engage the public in the process.
    read more

  • New Proposed Rule for the Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under the Clean Water Act

    Vicki CasteelDoes It Simplify or Complicate Determining Jurisdictional Waters? What the New Rule Does

    The Clean Water Act (CWA), administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), protects the quality of our nation’s waterways. It regulates discharges of pollutants into US waters and sets quality standards for surface waters. Due to its widespread applicability and the costs associated with meeting its requirements, some see the CWA as overreaching. The most recent controversy surrounding the CWA is the introduction of a new proposed rule (published in the April 2014 Federal Register) that is intended to clarify the law’s regulations by:

    • Defining the term “waters of the United States” more clearly.
    • Clarifying protections for those waters.

    These clarifications are intended to make the process for determining the jurisdictional status of various types of waters simpler.
    read more

  • PART III: Protecting Wetlands from Point Source Pollution

    Alyson EddieIn the first two parts of our blog series, our NEPA consultants addressed wetland mitigation, including the evaluation of functional quality and the various methods used to assess these functions. We now continue our discussion with the examination of point source pollution and the methods used to protect our wetlands.

    Section 402, a companion regulation to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, regulates, among other things, the discharge of point source pollution (pollutants coming from a single source or action) into waters and wetlands of the US. Whereas Section 404 addresses dredge and fill impacts to waters of the US, the Section 402 regulation addresses potential water quality impacts.

    How does this affect your project? As we discussed in earlier blogs, by now you will have carefully shown the Corps that you will either be improving or impairing a wetland and have received an authorization (permit) from them to dredge and fill it in. If the project impairs a wetland, and you have negotiated a mitigation plan with the Corps to mitigate these impacts, you are now ready to start construction.
    read more

  • Part II: Wetland Mitigation & Functional Assessment Methods

    Alyson EddieMethods that biological resource specialists’ use for assessing the functional quality of a wetland can vary from state to state. California employs the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM), whereas Florida’s state regulators first developed the Wetland Rapid Assessment Protocol (WRAP) and then developed a more detailed method known as the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM).

    As we discussed in Part I of this series, Utah has the UDOT Wetland Functional Assessment method. On a federal level, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a rapid assessment method for assessing wetland condition. Typically, the state-developed methods are most applicable to the wetland types and communities found within that state.
    read more

  • Part I: Assessing the Functional Quality of Project Wetlands

    Alyson EddieAssessing the functional quality of wetlands, determining wetland mitigation using functional assessment methods, and protecting wetland projects during construction are all major areas of importance and concern in the environmental planning arena. The above issues will be examined in detail in a three-part series, beginning with assessment of the functional quality of wetland projects.

    Beginning a project in an area with, or near, wetlands can require a number of complicated steps before the project can be completed. If your project—whether restoration, transportation, energy, or development— impacts wetlands, you are likely to have to initiate the process of obtaining a Clean Water Act Section 404 wetland dredge and fill permit with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). You will find during the permitting process that, while wetland impacts in general should be avoided, avoiding wetlands is not always possible and not all wetland impacts are alike.
    read more

  • Is Streamlining the National Environmental Policy Act Possible?

    “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex…It takes a touch of genius–and a lot of courage–to move in the opposite direction.” Albert Einstein

    Project proponents often express frustration at the resources, cost, and time required to complete the National Environmental Policy Act. The problem is that their NEPA projects tend to be over budget, beyond the project schedule, and require more resources than originally allocated. The resulting delays and increased costs are lengthening the time to get products to market.

    NEPA documents, especially environmental impact statements (EISs), have recently become more complex, complicated, and substantially lengthier. NEPA regulations (40 CFR Section 1502.7) direct that “the text of final environmental impact statements—shall normally be less than 150 pages and for proposals of unusual scope or complexity shall normally be less than 300 pages.” However, a random sample of 10 recent EIS documents from the EPA EIS Database averaged 660 pages.
    read more