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The Houston-Galveston Area Council hired SWCA to conduct avian and bat presence/absence surveys in the Upper Oyster Creek Watershed in Fort Bend County, Texas. The surveys were conducted to support investigations of the potential contribution of bacteria by avian and bat populations. Prior to the field effort, SWCA identified and mapped 27 bridges to be surveyed, and the team also conducted a domestic duck assessment at three pre-determined lakes within the survey area. See a copy of the study.
In June 2007 SWCA began work for the Claunch-Pinto Soil and Water Conservation District to monitor forest and watershed health as a result of forest thinning on the eastern slopes of the Manzano Mountains in Torrance County, New Mexico. The SWCA team is evaluating the effectiveness of thinning treatments relative to soils, hydrology, vegetation, and wildlife.
After monitoring began, three major wildfires (Ojo Peak, Trigo, and Big Spring) occurred in the monitoring area in late 2007 and early 2008. In response to these fires, SWCA has also studied post-Trigo fire recovery of private forest lands.
Among the study findings, forest thinning treatments have resulted in reduced wildfire fuels, increased soil moisture and herbaceous vegetation production, and increased surface water yield to streams that feed groundwater aquifers in the watershed. Long-term projects such as these will also aid in understanding how ecosystems respond to climate change.
The County of Los Angeles hired SWCA to provide Section 106/ Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act/Native American consultation, peer review, archaeological evaluation and analysis, and osteology services for the Los Angeles Plaza Church Cemetery site.
The LA Plaza site represents a significant portion of a Catholic burial ground in use from 1822 through 1844. SWCA’s archaeological and osteological analysis of 106 burial features and 2,832 artifacts excavated from the cemetery reflect the multiple identities, social interactions, and trade relationships that characterize the earliest days of the Pueblo of Los Angeles. The findings make the cemetery likely one of the most important archaeological sites in California.
SWCA assisted with environmental compliance and permitting for the Spring Valley Wind facility on BLM-managed lands, as well as the Plan of Development and right-of-way application package for submittal to BLM. The 66-turbine wind farm began operating in August 2012 and is the first commercial wind energy facility to come online in Nevada. Spring Valley Wind was named “Wind Project of the Year” at the 2012 Power-Gen International conference.
SWCA prepared NEPA documentation and required technical studies, including biological resources surveys and Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7 consultation; cultural resources surveys, National Historic Preservation Act Section 106, and Native American consultation; and visual analysis through viewshed delineation, key observation point analysis, and visual simulation.
SWCA also completed a two-year preconstruction bird and bat study in support of BLM and state requirements. Surveys included raptor migration, point-counts, breeding bird counts, helicopter nest surveys, AnaBat acoustic monitoring, and bat capture surveys. During the project, SWCA worked closely with federal and state agencies to determine study requirements and acceptable survey methodology. The final report was prepared to address bird and bat composition, utilization, potential impacts, and mitigation/conservation measures.
SWCA is working with prime contractor Warm Springs Geo Visions to complete a pedestrian cultural resources survey for the Bureau of Land Management on 42,000 acres in southeastern Oregon that burned in the Long Draw Fire in July 2012. The SWCA team is documenting archaeological and historic properties and capturing spatial data for all cultural resources identified in conjunction with emergency stabilization and rehabilitation efforts for the area. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are supporting the project with additional field technicians.
SWCA provided a third-party cultural resources evaluation along a seven-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 93 for the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), which was expanding and widening the road to improve traffic flow from the new Hoover Dam bridge to Boulder City. With a very tight project timeline, the SWCA team identified historic and archaeological properties along the route, made recommendations on the impacts of highway work to those properties, and prepared a formal report of the findings for NDOT. SWCA’s report included a recommended finding of no adverse effect on the National Park Service’s 1966 Alan Bible Visitor Center. The visitor’s center is a classic Mission 66 project completely intact from its original design and construction that has been found eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Mission 66 was a 10-year program of improvements to park infrastructure and visitor facilities by 1966 to accommodate increased visitation to national parks.
SWCA assisted Kinder Morgan with cultural resources permitting for the 240-mile Wyoming stretch of the Rockies Express natural gas pipeline, which involved the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Bureau of Land Management’s Rawlins Field Office. SWCA provided cultural resources surveying, site testing, pre- and post-construction excavations, and construction monitoring. The entire pipeline spans 1,679 miles from western Colorado to southeast Ohio and is one of the largest natural gas pipelines built in North America.
SWCA researched prehistoric archaeological sites as well as historic homesteads, artifact scatters, and several transportation routes including the Overland Trail, Union Pacific Railroad, and Lincoln Highway. The team also developed a regional research context that will be available online for other archaeologists and researchers to use, as well as a public outreach document that also will be available online.
The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) hired SWCA as a subcontractor to HDR, Inc., to provide a mitigation report and photographs of two buildings on the UTMB Galveston campus substantially damaged by 2008’s Hurricane Ike.
The damage required demolition of the 1964 Surgical Research Building and the 1966 Old Shriners Burn Institute. However, because both buildings were determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, mitigation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act was required prior to demolition.
The SWCA team documented the buildings with digital photography and a report, which provided a comprehensive historic context of both buildings. Research also revealed the role of one man — Dr. Truman Graves Blocker, Jr. — in the development of plastic surgery in Texas and the U.S. as well as the incredible and innovative work sponsored by the Shriners and done at the Shriners Burn Institute in Galveston, where doctors treated severely burned children free of charge.
The report and photos are now stored at the Blocker History of Medicine collection located in the UTMB Moody Medical Library.