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Wetland Delineation Training | Dallas, TX | FEB 2017


Wetland Delineation Training | Dallas, TX | FEB 2017


Wetland Delineation Training | Dallas, TX | FEB 2017


Wetland Delineation Training | Dallas, TX | FEB 2017


Online Wetland Basic Delineation Training | March 2017

Certified Wetland Botanist | March 2017

Data Collection for Environmental Professionals | March 2017


Habitat Conservation Plans | March 2017


USACOE Nationwide Permit Webinar | 16 March 2017 | 1 PM EST


Wetland Delineation Training | Charlotte, NC | MAR 2017


Wetland Delineation Training | Charlotte, NC | MAR 2017


Wetland Delineation Training | Charlotte, NC | MAR 2017


Wetland Delineation Training | Charlotte, NC | MAR 2017

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Wetland Delineation Training

Pittsburgh, PA
April 3-6, 2017

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Florida to Ban Fracking?

Swamp Stomp

Volume 17, Issue 13

A bill that would stop oil and gas fracking from occurring in Florida was passed and moved along in the process by the Florida Senate.

The Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation voted unanimously to prohibit “advanced well stimulation treatment,” like hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing and matrix acidizing.

State Sen. Dana Young (R) sponsored the bill, S.B. 442.  Last year she opposed the banning but, after her Senate district was redrawn, she changed her stance.

When questioned about her change of heart, Young said, “Florida is unique. Florida is special, and we do not have to be like every other state in the nation.”

Some who oppose the bill are Exxon Mobil Corporation, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the James Madison Institute, the Heartland Institute of Washington, D.C., the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Petroleum Council.

According to Florida Petroleum Council President David Mica, as a state, Florida uses 27 million gallons of gasoline every day.  This makes Florida the third-largest consumer in the nation.

“We have a shared interest in our industry to protect energy resources,” Mica said.

In response to Mica’s concerns, Young responded that the bill does not prohibit traditional oil and gas exploration.

“There may be some uncertainty, but the question is are you willing to roll the dice with the future of our state?” Young asked.

Do you think Florida should pass the bill?  Why or why not?

Source: “Bill to Ban Fracking Advances through Senate.” Greenwire. E&E News, 08 Mar. 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017.

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Danada Wetland Restoration to Start

Swamp Stomp

Volume 17, Issue 12

Starting the week of February 20, 2017, work has started on creating and restoring dozens of acres of wetlands and prairies in DuPage County in Illinois.

Originally, the area of the Danada Forest Preserve on the south side of Butterfield Road, a half mile west of Naperville Road were wetlands and prairie.  150 years ago it was converted from wetlands and prairie to farmland.  The process to convert the area back to its original state is set to begin.

Nick Fuller, Natural Resources Project Coordinator for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, says 21 acres will be turned back into wetlands while 23 acres are turned into prairie.

According to Fuller, the importance of the wetlands is to lessen the chance for flooding and to clean storm water naturally by allowing the water to better seep into the ground.

Fuller says the wetlands “act like sponges for capturing storm water, filtering it, allowing it to go into the groundwater table and recharge that groundwater which we use for drinking water.”

“The plan is to disable the buried tiles and install features that will bring back more natural groundwater conditions, according to the news release” (Tafoya).

In order to convert the area back into the native wetlands and prairie, the invasive species of plants that have taken over the area will be removed and natural species will be planted to restore the native area.

DuPage County Board Member Jim Zay says the project will cost $980,000 and will be paid for with fees charged to landowners who encroach on wetlands.

He says, “No taxpayer money on this. This is all coming out of these fees that developers and landowners pay.”

The Forest Preserve and its trails will remain open during most of the work, the news release revealed. However, the District may need to temporarily close trails and natural areas for visitors’ safety.

Do you think more original wetlands and prairies that have been converted for other uses should be brought back to the way they originally were?  Why or why not?  Are there any instances when you believe that it is more beneficial to an area to remove wetlands and prairies and change it for other uses?  Are there any areas that were not originally wetlands or prairie that you think would benefit from converting that area into wetlands and prairie?  Why do you think some people may be hesitant to continue bringing back converted wetlands and prairie?

Source: Tafoya, Bernie. “Forest Preserve District Set To Begin Danada Wetland Restoration.” CBS Chicago. CBS, 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

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Some Driveway Sealants are Polluting Streams

Swamp Stomp

Volume 17, Issue 11

According to a study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, coal-tar sealants which are used on blacktop parking lots and driveways are the primary source of toxic chemicals found in the muck at the bottom of area waterways.

The study tested muck samples that were collected from 40 locations along 19 creeks and rivers in the metropolitan area of Milwaukee and dust from six parking lots.  It found that coal-tar sealants contributed up to 94% of all polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, in streambed sediment, according to the study, which was published Thursday December 22, 2016 in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Of all of the samples, a total of 78% of them contained enough PAHs to be considered toxic and capable of causing adverse effects in aquatic animals, said Austin Baldwin, a USGS scientist and lead author of the study. The sample location which had the most toxic sediment came from Lincoln Creek and Underwood Creek.

PAHS gets into the streams when rain and melting snow rinse it and other contaminants off the pavement and into storm water storage basins or directly into storm sewers that carry the load to waterways.

“Even before the study was published, early circulation of its findings boosted support for local restrictions or even bans on the use of coal-tar sealants and a switch to sealants containing asphalt emulsions,” according to Chris Magruder, a retired Milwaukee sewer district scientist who is science advisory committee coordinator for the Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust.

A previous federal study conducted in 2013 determined that PAHs posed a greater risk of harm to aquatic life in the streams than other chemicals but this study went beyond the previous study in two ways, Baldwin said.

The first was that researchers used multiple methods for identifying separate sources of PAHs in sediment, he said. Apart from coal-tar sealants, the remainder of the PAHs came from a variety of other sources, such as coal combustion at power plants and vehicle emissions.

The second was that this study exposed aquatic insects and small crustaceans to sediment taken from streams in the area.

“This study shows that PAHs pose a very real threat to aquatic organisms at the base of the food chain,” he said. Some of the adverse effects are fin erosion, liver abnormalities, cataracts and immune system damage. Additionally, exposure to the chemicals can cause high rates of tumors in fish.

“The study also reveals a costly consequence of regulations in Wisconsin and many other states requiring developers to excavate storm water storage basins next to massive parking lots. PAHs cling to dirt, sand and other particles in the storm water that settle to the bottom of the basins” (Behm).

It has been estimated by communities in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area that it will cost up to $1 billion to dispose of PAH-contaminated sediment in the storm water ponds when the basins are dredged for maintenance.

Source: Behm, Don. “Some Driveway Sealants Create Toxic Muck in Streams.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 26 Dec. 2016. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.

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Updated Population Estimate of Florida Panthers

Swamp Stomp

Volume 17, Issue 10

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have updated the estimated number of endangered Florida panthers in their breeding range, which is south of the Caloosahatchee River.

According to a February 2017 report from the agencies collaborating on conservation and recovery efforts, the updated population estimate is 120 to 230 adult and subadult Florida panthers.  This is an update from the number in 2014, which was an estimation of 100 to 180 adult and subadult Florida panthers.

To learn more, you can find the panther population report by visiting FloridaPantherNet.org.

The report focuses on conveying the importance and difficulty of obtaining accurate panther population estimates, which is similar to estimating the other puma populations in western states.  At this time, Florida scientists are researching and evaluating several methods to improve their ability to estimate the panther population size, including the use of trail cameras and panther road mortality data.  The current numbers, developed jointly by USFWS and FWC scientists, are obtained using annual counts of panthers primarily conducted on public lands.  “Density of panthers on these areas is then multiplied across the larger area that makes up the primary breeding range in south Florida. Although there are some panthers outside of this range in south Florida and in areas north of the Caloosahatchee River, they are primarily dispersing males and do not significantly contribute to the breeding population” (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

“This latest Florida panther population estimate is good news, an indication that conservation efforts are on track in helping recover this endangered animal,” said Kipp Frohlich, FWC’s Deputy Director for the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. “In the 1970s and 1980s, it was estimated only 20 to 30 panthers remained in Florida.”

Larry Williams, the USFWS’s Florida State Supervisor of Ecological Services, is hopeful after looking at the new estimates and believes the new numbers indicate things are moving in the direction they want them to, which is due, in part, to a strong partnership with the State of Florida.

“Continued recovery will require a long-term concerted effort by many partners committed to finding common sense solutions that balance many different and competing interests, yet are grounded in a shared purpose of conserving the lands that support Florida’s native wildlife and its ranching heritage,” Williams said.

If anyone stumbles upon panthers or their tracks, they are encouraged to report these sightings, and in particular photos, to MyFWC.com/PantherSightings.  Any reported sightings will be used to help with panther research and management. Of particular interest to the biologists who keep track of the panthers are pictures of panthers north of the Caloosahatchee River, which runs from Lake Okeechobee to Ft. Myers.

If you are from Florida and want to help panther conservation efforts, you can do so by purchasing the “Protect a Panther” vehicle tag from your local tax collector’s office.

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Florida Panther Population Estimate Updated.” U S Fish and Wildlife Service. U S Fish and Wildlife Service, 22 Feb. 2017. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

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EPA Argues Against Order Demanding Study of Job Losses

Swamp Stomp

Volume 17, Issue 9

A West Virginia federal judge has ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate coal industry job losses.  Attorneys for the agency argue that the order imposes “substantive obligations” and has “no basis in the statute” in a filing on February 21, 2017.

“In an opening brief, the Justice Department asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the order and instruct the lower court to either dismiss the case or rule in favor of the agency” (Reilly).

The order was “outside the bounds of the court’s authority,” Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys told the appeals court. At a minimum, they said, the 4th Circuit should issue a new “straightforward” injunction that tracks with the Clean Air Act.

“At issue is last month’s decision by U.S. District Court Judge John Preston Bailey for the Northern District of West Virginia to require EPA to submit by July 1 an evaluation of how its Clean Air Act regulations affect coal jobs, mine closures and power plant shutdowns” (Reilly).

Bailey sided with Murray Energy Corporation, who filed a lawsuit in 2014 against the EPA.  The lawsuit argues that the EPA failed to comply with a section of the Clean Air Act that requires the continued economic evaluations of its regulations. Bailey issued the July 1st deadline after determining that the EPA’s initial plan to comply with the provision was insufficient.

While most of the action regarding the lawsuit was handled under Obama’s administration, Trump’s Department of Justice has moved to appeal the ruling.

In its opening statement, the government raised both procedural and substantive arguments against Murray’s claims in the lawsuit. It should be noted that Murray CEO Robert Murray is a major Trump supporter.

The DOJ argued that the district court did not have the jurisdiction to hear Murray’s claims because the Clean Air Act did not impose an enforceable mandatory duty on the EPA to evaluate job losses.

The government is also arguing that Murray lacked standing to bring the lawsuit because the firm couldn’t point to specific harms caused by the EPA’s alleged failure to do the economic evaluations.

“Murray alleges that the coal industry as a whole is economically distressed, but the company did not provide any ‘specific facts’ showing that it specifically has been harmed,” EPA’s brief said.

The brief also argues that even if it crosses the procedural thresholds, the 4th Circuit should still reverse the order because the EPA already did the required evaluations.

The agency pointed to 64 documents that it says analyzed the economic impacts of its actions — even if those evaluations weren’t specifically done to comply with the Clean Air Act section at issue.

“Individually and collectively,” the brief says, “EPA’s documents evaluate the ‘potential loss or shifts of employment which may result from the administration or enforcement’ of the CAA.”

Judge Bailey’s order goes “far beyond” the Clean Air Act by requiring evaluations not just on economic shifts but on how coal “families” and “communities” may be at risk, the brief said.

Murray’s response is due on March 31.

“EPA has for years now sought to shirk its obligation to evaluate the loss and shifts in employment from its actions under the Clean Air Act,” Murray said in an earlier court filing.

Source:  Reilly, Amanda. “EPA Fights Order Requiring Study of Job Losses.” Greenwire. E&E News, 22 Feb. 2017. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

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EPA to Review Oil and Gas Waste Regulations

Swamp Stomp

Volume 17, Issue 8

As a result of a lawsuit from several environmental groups that was brought forward in May of 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to look into its regulations regarding how companies should dispose of oil and gas waste.

“Safeguards to protect our scarce water resources in the San Juan Basin, home to 40,000 wells, have been ignored for far too long,” said Dan Olson, executive director of San Juan Citizens Alliance. “Updating rules for oil and gas waste, deemed inadequate 30 years ago, is critical for this region.”

In May 2016, a coalition of environmental groups came together and filed a lawsuit against the EPA.  They claim that the agency has failed to meet its own expectations set in the 1980s to review oil and gas regulations, as well as guidelines for states, every three years.

“Since that time, nearly nine successive three-year deadlines have passed with no further review,” according to a notice of intent filed in August 2015. “(Current regulations) do not specifically address issues relevant to the modern oil and gas industry.”

A settlement was reached between the EPA and environmental groups on December 20, 2016.  Per the agreement, the EPA will review its regulations on oil and gas waste, and if the agency deems it “necessary,” make revisions to the guidelines.

The deadline for the EPA to determine whether or not changes are warranted for “wastes associated with the exploration, development, or production of crude oil, natural gas, or geothermal energy” is March 15, 2019.

Per the agreement and the court document, the EPA must make a formal announcement no matter what their decision is, and then they must provide a decision of notice to the environmental groups who brought forth the lawsuit within seven days of their announcement.

“The EPA itself deemed current regulations inadequate nearly 30 years ago,” said Erika Brown, with the San Juan Citizens Alliance. “The consent decree is a big step forward for holding the EPA accountable to regulate oil and gas waste in ways that protect human and environmental health.”

Part of the settlement includes a clause regarding then President elect and now President Donald Trump.  It discusses the possibility that President Trump will make good on his promise to defund the EPA.  “(Environmental groups) and EPA recognize that the possibility exists that a lapse in appropriations by Congress resulting in government shutdown could delay EPA’s performance of obligations contained in this Consent Decree,” the court document says.

“In the event of a government shutdown affecting EPA that occurs within 120 days prior to a deadline … deadline shall be extended automatically one day for each day of the shutdown.”

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, include the Environmental Integrity Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthworks, Responsible Drilling Alliance, West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization, and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice.

Do you think the EPA will make any changes to the regulations after their review?

Source: Romeo, Jonathan. “EPA Agrees to Review Regulations on Oil and Gas Waste.” Durangoherald.com. Durango Herald, 12 Jan. 2017. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.