Ecological Surveys

Ecological SurveyEcological surveys such as fish census or stream habitat assessments are necessary to provide data for assessing the current conditions of an ecosystem. A fish census provides a snapshot into the populations (i.e. diversity) of fish species within a segment of stream. A stream habitat assessment can provide insights into the current habitat conditions of epifaunal substrates, re-oxygenation zones, and embeddedness of the stream bottom. Using quantitative metrics these assessments can provide one time or on-going monitoring of these aquatic resources. Biological Systems Consultants’ team of scientists are familiar with various state protocols and routinely perform these types of assessments.

Clean Water Act

Our team of stream and wetland scientists can assist with Clean Water Act permitting and compliance with agencies such as the  Corps of Engineers. We can provide jurisdictional determinations for your property, tract of land, or project site. Once a very simple concept, is now a complex process. Located in Lexington, Kentucky we regularly consult with various Corps of Engineers Districts and can help facilitate your project. Can you tell which of these features below are considered jurisdictional?

Jurisdictional Determination Clean Water Act

Jurisdictional Determination Clean Water Act

Jurisdictional Determination Clean Water Act

Jurisdictional Determination Clean Water Act

Biological Systems Consultants performs ecological and environmental studies for Clean Water Act compliance, monitors and assesses water quality, provides hydrological modeling, and develops project alternatives such as watershed management plans that provide a balance of business objectives with agency requirements. Biological Systems Consultants also conducts wetland determinations and delineations, collecting information on vegetation, hydrology, and soils to accurately locate and define the boundaries of wetlands. Based on the results, we develop wetland mitigation strategies and to offset wetland impacts. We provide a full suite of stream and wetland mitigation services.

Biological Systems Consultants prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) and supporting studies for a proposed coal mine operation in Whitley County, KY.

The EA assessed the potential ecological impacts from the proposed mine site on endangered species, streams and wetlands, and archaeological resources on this site. These assessments provided the needed scientific documents to allow for permitting of the NPDES, Corps of Engineers, and SMCRA permits required to begin the operation. This project was found to provide an overall “lift” to the aquatic resources on this site which had been disturbed by pre-SMCRA mining. Our client was able to restore miles of abandoned highwalls and thousands of feet of streams that had been previously impacted. Natural rock and log vanes were used to provide stream habitat for macroinvertebrates and other aquatic life.

Ecological Assessments for Stream Mitigation

Aerial Ecological Assessments (EcoDrones)

Aerial ecological assessments using the newest technology (EcoDrones) available to us we have now integrated aerial imaging into our list of services. Our custom built EcoDrones (UAVs, sUAS) allow us to capture low-elevation high resolution color video or still photos for ecological assessments of watersheds. This allows us to further document ecological resources in a way we have not been previously capable. Environmental assessments will never be the same.

Using drone technology  we can provide ecological assessments using low-elevation high-resolution imagery of the ecosystem within a project area or site. Restoring and maintaining the natural environment continues to be an important issue.  BSC specializes in helping clients solve the challenges of growing their businesses while addressing environmental concerns.

Ecological Assessments Using Drone (UAV, sUAS). Wetland and Stream Delineation.

We conduct ecological assessments including biological, aquatic, fish, bird, plant, tree, wetland, stream habitat, and other natural resource assessments. BSC provides expertise in both water resources and aquatic systems management, which requires the understanding  of input and output relationships between water systems and their its influence on natural processes. We develop client specific solutions that protect sensitive resources and infrastructure including roads, wetland habitat, rivers, streams, recreational facilities, and infrastructure.

Our client was looking to open a new operation, and hired BSC to perform a preliminary evaluation on an area encompassing 2,000 acres. Our study identified the potential of the proposed mines impacts to archaeological resources, streams and wetlands, prepared a stream restoration plan for the SMCRA permit, a jurisdictional determination or the Corps of Engineers (section 404), and a Section 401 (Water Quality Certification) for the State of Kentucky. The Corps permit was able to be avoided by revising the footprint of the permit while still achieving an economically beneficial project.

Ecological Assessments Using Drone

Fish Inventory

Stream Survey
2016 Blackside Dace Fish Inventory and Habitat Assessment for threatened species. We provide a wide variety of consulting services related to the aquatic ecosystem.

Habitat Restoration

Habitat restoration is an important tool for addressing a broad range of environmental challenges including providing permits for mitigation for streams using constructed wetlands. The BSC approach incorporates cost-effective design and build projects for the long-term management of natural resources by employing collaboration across experts from different fields ranging from biologists and ecologists to archaeologists. The site pictured below is currently in the early stages of restoration and are trending toward success thanks to some mitigation efforts and mother nature. Pictured below are restored stream channels, which are providing the revival of biological, chemical, and physical functions. Many macroinvertebrate and fish species have been observed throughout the sites; a great indication of restored habitat. Our experience covers a wide range of project development, from design to construction supervision and monitoring. BSC is also well trained to communicate with multiple regulatory agencies at the state, local, and federal levels. Our team has years of experience successfully negotiating agreements on restoration and permitting issues.

Stream Restoration

Mitigation 34

Black Bears Spotted

While in the field last week, we spotted a family of bears! These black bears must have smelled our presence and came to explore. The American black bear (Ursus americanus), is very common and widely distributed. They are a very intelligent and curious species, and feed mainly on berries, nuts, grasses, carrion, and insects. While caution should always be taken, black bears rarely attack humans; in fact most injuries only occur from people trying to feed, touch, or crowd them.

These sites in Harlan County, Kentucky which have been reclaimed, now provide prime habitat and foraging sites for these bears, and other wildlife.

Chrosomus cumberlandensis (Blackside Dace) – spawning!!

The Blackside Dace is olive green in color with black specks, a silver or red underside, and a single black stripe along its sides. During the breeding season, the male’s stripe becomes a deeper black, the red becomes brighter, and the fins turn a vibrant yellow. In the second and last pictures, the dace are actually using the nests of a different species (the Creek Chub) for spawning.

Elk Spotting

One of the best parts about our job is getting outdoors, which often brings with it some pretty cool wildlife sightings! Pictured here, a majestic Kentucky Elk checking us out from afar…

Fish Surveys

Rhododendron Pool

Jesse carrying the battery and backpack electro-fish shocker. The device stuns fish for several seconds so populations can be counted. These surveys can be used for baseline studies required for projects needing Clean Water Act permitting (NPDES), Section 404, Nationwide or Individual Permits or Protection and Enhancement Plans.