- Meet SWCA
- News & Insights
- Contact Us
The Arizona Game and Fish Department hired SWCA to complete an Environmental Assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act for the proposed Second Knoll Public Shooting Range located in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in eastern Arizona and administered by the U.S. Forest Service Lakeside Ranger District. SWCA also performed cultural and biological resource surveys and reports and a preliminary jurisdictional delineation. In addition, SWCA facilitated a public scoping meeting that drew strong local interest, processing more than 200 public comments from Arizona, New Mexico, and California. The result of the Environmental Assessment was a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).
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 worked closely with Spring Valley Wind LLC, Mortensen Construction, and the BLM to implement site restoration. As part of the process SWCA provided oversight in the field during site preparation and seeding. We also provided weed management training to on-site staff. SWCA is currently conducting a multi-year restoration success and weed monitoring effort at the site using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.
SWCA architectural historians supported the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of the historic Venice Post Office building in Southern California. Constructed in 1939, the post office was found eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and purchased by Hollywood producer Joel Silver in 2012. Plans call for preserving and restoring the building exterior while modernizing the building interior. The effort includes restoration of Edward Biberman’s 1941 “Story of Venice” mural as well as transformation into a state-of-the-art film production facility and home to Silver Pictures’ offices, editorial suites, and a screening room.
SWCA performed the historic evaluation for the building and conducted follow-up work to make sure alterations and mechanical upgrades complied with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The project is part of the U.S. Postal Service’s Section 106 compliance requirements to decommission hundreds of facilities made obsolete for evolving postal needs.
SWCA is providing a comprehensive suite of environmental consulting services for construction of a proposed 1,600-megawatt combined-cycle greenfield electric generating station and ancillary equipment. The facility will be located on a 200-acre site in Mitchell County, Texas, with power to be distributed to communities in northern and/or western Texas. In addition to biological and cultural resources consulting, a Phase I environmental site assessment, Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan, and public outreach assistance, the project included a significant air quality component. In that arena SWCA has provided greenhouse gas permitting, a New Source Review initial permit application to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and a full application for a Prevention of Significant Deterioration air quality permit through the EPA. SWCA has successfully coordinated permitting requirements with both agencies.
In March 2013, SWCA began preparing an application for a standard air quality permit through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for the Frame Switch Energy Unit #1 project. The proposed 120-megawatt natural gas-fired simple-cycle facility will generate electricity to be sold to the electric grid. The facility will be located on a 11.25-acre site in Williamson County about 25 miles northeast of Austin. As originally planned, the facility would have required a major source Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit through the EPA. However, thanks to SWCA’s unique approach in proposing voluntary limits in conjunction with reducing the scale of the project, it met the requirements for only the more expedited TCEQ Air Quality Standard Permit Registration for Electric Generating Units, which was issued in July 2013. SWCA also provided public outreach support.
SWCA performed a wetland delineation, threatened and endangered species habitat survey, and cultural resources survey along the right of way for a five-mile natural gas pipeline running through Louisiana’s Claiborne Parish. SWCA also provided expedited air quality permitting through the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for a compressor facility affiliated with the pipeline. The team used information obtained during field surveys to complete a preconstruction notification for the project to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. SWCA was able to meet the extremely tight schedule for the project, which required two reroutes and two additional lateral lines to avoid a wetland more than 1,000 feet wide in order to obtain the necessary permits.
As part of the Hawai’i Department of Transportation Statewide Noxious Invasive Pest Program (SNIPP), SWCA conducted roadside surveys of 240 miles of state roads on Oahu to assess the potential for invasiveness of new roadside species, to map the distribution of priority invasive roadside plant species, and to identify areas of native vegetation that might make suitable restoration sites.
SWCA helped create a 10-year strategic plan to reduce Hawai’i DOT’s invasive species management costs through prevention, early detection, control, restoration, and community collaboration. Other products included an illustrated Highway Manual for Sustainable Landscape Maintenance for use by highway maintenance managers, ground crews, contractors, and inspectors to help them become better stewards of the lands they manage. SWCA also created wall posters and other public outreach materials to increase awareness of the SNIPP program’s sustainable approach to highway landscape maintenance, the first of its kind in the nation and winner of the 2012 AASHTO President’s Transportation Award for Environment.
Finally, SWCA developed training workshops for highway maintenance staff and contractors focused on best practices for invasive species detection and control as well as improving safety, temporary traffic control, mowing, weeding, trimming, pruning, and irrigation.
Read more about this project in the fall 2011 edition of our newsletter, The Wire (see the article, “Putting the Brakes on Invasive Species in Hawai’i”).
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.