Environmental Services Inc. (ESI) News

Rhodes Robinson was a guest speaker in ESI's Assistant Scientist, Cara McCann's, Limnology (fresh water ecology) lab at UNF. The class is taught by Professor Dr. Kelly Smith. Rhodes was happy to share his extensive knowledge and experience of wetlands with the group. He also discussed some of the legal and practical applications of identifying wetlands for consulting work. 

Pictured: storm damage in St. Martin after Hurricane Irma, https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hurricane-irma/hurricane-irma-leaves-path-destruction-caribbean-n799981

For any inquiries on how to make your business more Climate-Smart, contact ESI's, Tony Pooley, Resiliency Sustainability Development Lead, at tpooley@esinc.cc

Climate resilience is needed

Increasingly severe and frequent climatic events in the Caribbean have triggered many people to start looking beyond traditional disaster relief strategies for a long-term solution to climatic disasters.  Irma alone wiped out 14% of GDP in Antigua and Barbuda and decimated an estimated 200% of Dominica’s GDP.  Such storms not only affect the Caribbean’s economic development, but also the everyday lives of the 40 million people living in the region, making new, innovative policies and disaster resilience an absolute necessity on the agenda of these island states.  Many Caribbean governments are finding a foundation of resilience by simply better understanding the land on which they inhabit.  Green infrastructure—servicing the ecosystems that already exist in an area—may be the pathway to wealth, health, and improved social relations in afflicted countries, providing personal security from natural disasters through nature’s own processes.

Green infrastructure can be anything from a natural and restored native ecosystem to a protected open space or working land.  Wetlands, wildlife habitats, and nature preserves offer valuable processes that can provide a “land and water legacy” for present and future generations if protected and serviced properly.  The Ecological Society of America describes green infrastructure as “functioning natural ecosystems [that] perform services that are the fundamental life-support systems upon which human civilization depends.”  The environmental functions of green infrastructure, such as wetlands, can provide groundwater replenishment, storm protection, nutrient retention, and storage of carbon—a major role in climate change mitigation.  For example, Florida’s cypress swamps remove 98% of all nitrogen and 97% of phosphorus from wastewater before water enters the ground reserves if in a healthy and functioning state.  Deterioration or destruction of wetlands through human intervention can release dangerous levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, leading to accelerated warming of the Earth and intensification of storm events.

Green infrastructure can also create monetary gain to suffering economies in the Caribbean through income generation for local workers, increased tourism from the rejuvenation of an ecosystems’ natural beauty, and prevention of further costly environmental deterioration.  Local communities in Vietnam saved the equivalent of US $7.3 billion per year that they would have paid in dyke maintenance through the restoration of mangrove forests.

Such benefits of green infrastructure have been observed in the coastal community of Negril in Jamaica.  After an unofficial no fishing zone in Negril lead to substantial rejuvenation of lobster, shrimp, and fish populations, the group of fishermen who first enforced this rule decided to build on this task to involve climate change adaptation through revival of sea moss growth.  With the help of the Coastal Protection for Climate Change Adaptation, Negril has broadened its green infrastructure initiatives to include the protection of the natural mangrove forests and coral reefs, as well as restoring man-made structures like groynes and revetments.  These services aim to minimize the impacts of climate change on the island and improve climate resilience in Negril.

Many Caribbean nations have united in a “climate smart zone” coalition, pledging to this idea of green infrastructure.  The Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator is working “to build low-carbon and resilient infrastructure including nature-based approaches, to better withstand future extreme weather events. It will do so by identifying and uniting commitments to building a more sustainable and resilient future for island nations through collaboration between national governments, regional and international institutions as well as public and private sector organizations.”  It is these type of partnerships and leadership from Caribbean leaders that will move the needle on sustainable development and green infrastructure implementation in the Caribbean.  Green infrastructure goes beyond traditional conservation strategies to create ecosystem rejuvenation alongside development, infrastructure planning, and growth.  This congruence of environmental and economic goals leads to shared values, providing mediation of opposing viewpoints of the “developer” and “conservationist” to achieve both economic growth and thriving ecosystems.  Over time, green infrastructure could lessen the burden of hurricanes and natural disasters that Caribbean nations face.

Article written by:

Tony Pooley, Sustainability & Resiliency Development

Allison Hajda, Sustainability Intern 

Sources:

https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.ser.org/resource/resmgr/custompages/publications/ser_publications/economic_rationale_for_resto.pdf

http://www.caribbeanclimate.bz/ccccc-building-climate-resilience-in-coastal-communities-of-the-caribbean/

http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/speech/2017/10/13/after-the-storm-recovery-and-resilience-in-the-caribbean

https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol16/iss1/art13/

Green Infrastructure by Mark A. Benedict and Edward T. McMahon

Ecosystems and Disaster Risk Reduction: Working Paper in Contribution to the Global Assessment Report

ESI is closely monitoring the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s (FWC) Imperiled Species Management Plan.

 

FWC is currently exploring changes to certain species and the Conservation Measures and Permitting Guidelines for those species.

Draft overall plan: Imperiled Species Management Plan

 

Currently there is an open public comment period concerning these draft guidelines that lasts until July 20, 2018.

Provide comment: http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/imperiled/species-guidelines/

 

Two species that affect North East Florida are:

Draft Osprey Species Guidelines

Draft Southern Fox Squirrel Species Guidelines

 

 

ESI can answer any questions you have as these changes are explored. Please contact Craig Jacobs, Rhodes Robinson, or Gary Howalt at 904-470-2200

 

Section 404 CWA Assumption by State of Florida:  The good news is that there are no permit fees! There are also some other changes that may affect you, but ESI is here to answer your questions. 
ESI would like to invite you to a lunch and learn at our office to hear what is currently known, what is yet to be resolved, and our take on the implication of pending changes.

 

We will provide you with an update on the new rule regarding the ACOE Federal Section 404 Dredge and Fill Permitting Program.  This new rule means there will be changes to the process to obtain Federal Section 404 permits in Florida. The major change is that the FDEP will be assuming all Section 404 permitting from the ACOE.  The objective of this assumption is to streamline the permitting process, increase timeliness, and improve consistency during the 404 processes. Current estimates are that this new program will be rolled out later this year - sometime between November and December.  There are both known and unknown ramifications of this new assumption. However, we wanted to share with you some specific highlights of the new program to provide insight and recommendations for you regarding your current and future development projects.
We hope you can make it! If you can't and would like more information, please feel free to reach out to ESI's CEO Rhodes Robinson, 904-470-2200. 


When:
Tuesday, July 10 , 2018  11:30 am EST
Register here: https://esi404cwaassumptions7_10.eventbrite.com

Thursday, July 12, 2018 11:30 am EST
Register here: https://esi404cwaassumptions7_12.eventbrite.com

Where:
ESI Corporate Office
7220 Financial Way
Suite 100
Jacksonville, FL 32256
(located on the second floor)

Rhodes and Sarah recently returned from a photo safari to Sossusvlei and Etosha National Parks in Namibia, knocking it off their "bucket list". We are excited to share these photographs for you enjoyment. 

*Please note: Photos are not copyrighted, and if you wish to make a print and share, please feel free.

 

Perhaps the most recoginizable is the lion (Panthera leo) whose closest relative cat is the Jaguar. Male lions such as this one in Etosha National Park range in size from 300-550 pounds. This male was in his prime and was paired a lioness for serious family planning. We watched them from approximately 50 feet as the mated and relaxed for over two hours.

RR Africa

 

The spotted or laughing hyena (Crocutus crocutus) is the most common carnivore in Africa. While frequently considered to be scavengers, hyenas are also skilled hunters which will take all but the largest animals such as the buffalo. They are in their own scientific group although their behavior is similar to dogs. Once during the trip an elephant had died at a water hole, and on the evening of the second warm day, the odor had attracted scores of hyenas to the carcass for a gory dining orgy.

hyena

 

Zebras are incredibly photogenic but sometimes they are just an ass.

If any animal on the planet is as recognizable as a lion, it must be the zebra. This is Burchell’s zebra ( Equus quagga burchelli), one of three living species of zebras. They grow to weigh 700-800 pounds, and unlike their biological cousins, horses and donkeys,  zebras have never been successfully domesticated. They are grazers, eating grass almost exclusively.  Why the stripes exist is not fully understood, but we do know that the patterns are unique to each animal, like our finger prints. The stripes serve to minimize the attraction of flies and biting insects. Simon and Garfunkel in The Zoo noted that Zebras are reactionary. Like many species living on the African plains, zebras are very wary, and being at the water hole is stressful because someone is always watching you!  Thus, the slightest flinch or unexpected motion generally causes an immediate panic out of the water. The herd can quickly settle down and finish their business of hydration before moving on. They do not hang around the water hole for long.

 

Zebras

 

“Section 404 CWA Assumption by State of Florida. The good news is that there are no permit fees! There are some other changes that may affect you and ESI is here to answer your questions.”

 

ESI has over 32 years of experience to help you navigate through permit changes.

Our CEO, Rhodes Robinson and our Principal, Gary Howalt are here to help answer your questions along with our entire team! 

Please call Rhodes or Gary at 904-470-2200, or email info@esinc.cc and we will make sure your questions are answered. 

 

More information can be found here:

 

62-330
Environmental Resource Permitting
(SWERP 3)

Contacts

·         Jessica Melkun

Drafts and Documents

·         Draft Rule 62-330 Changes

·         Draft ERP Applicant’s Handbook Volume I 

A  Notice of Rule Development for Ch. 62-330 was published on May 11, 2018. Workshops will be held May 30, 2018  in Tallahassee, May 31, 2018 in Orlando, and June 1, 2018 in Tallahassee. Please see the Notice published in the FAR for further details.

 Updated: May 9, 2018

62-331
State 404

Program

Contacts

·         Jessica Melkun

Drafts and Documents

·         Draft Rule 62-331

·         Draft State 404 Applicant’s Handbook 

A Notice of Rule Development for Ch. 62-331 was published on May 11, 2018. Workshops will be held May 30, 2018  in Tallahassee, May 31, 2018 in Orlando, and June 1, 2018 in Tallahassee. Please see the Notice published in the FAR for further details.

 Updated: May 9, 2018

In honor of World Environment Day, I want to highlight some of the not-so-fun-facts about the harmful effects of plastic pollution on our planet, as noted by earthday.org

TOP 10 Facts about Plastic Pollution

  1. 8.3 BILLION Metric TONS. This is the amount of plastic produced in 1 YEAR and is roughly the same as the entire weight of every human on this planet
  2. Plastic NEVER just disappears, EVER!! Virtually every piece of plastic ever made still exists in some form or another (exception is the small amount that is incinerated
  3. 91% of plastic waste is NEVER recycled.
  4. 500 MILLION plastic straws are used in the US EVERYDAY…enough to circle the earth TWICE!
  5. Nearly TWO MILLION single-use plastic bags are distributed world-wide every MINUTE.
  6. 1 MILLION plastic bottles are bought every minute around the world….less than half of those bottles are being recycled
  7. 100 BILLION plastic bags are used by Americans every year…tied together that would circle the earth 773 times!
  8. 8 MILLION MMETRIC TONS end up in our oceans every year. That’s enough to cover every foot of coastline around the world with 5 FULL trash bags of plastic…. compounding every year.
  9. There are more microplastic in the ocean than there are stats in the Milky Way
  10. IF we fight to #BeatPlasticPollution, plastics will outweigh the fish in the sea pound for pound by 2050.

Does this get you interested in how to reduce your use of plastics?  Our mantra at ESI is “If you can’t re-use it, Refuse it!”  ESI Ecologists are in the field every week and encounter plastic waste in wetland ecosystems often.  Wetlands are the most fragile and important ecosystem on the planet. Healthily wetlands are crucial to clean and filter water, provide flood protection, sequester carbon and provide habitat for wildlife.  Wind and storm events carry plastic from curbside recycle bins or landfills into these sensitive ecosystems. 

So, what can you do? Start small!!! Carry re-useable bags in your car and use when you shop, skip plastic packaged fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.  Those are a couple small steps that will make a BIG impact, but there’s even more you or your company can do to help limit the use of single-use plastic in your home or office. The environment is under pressure and I understand, so are you. I’m Tony Pooley, Sustainability Specialist at Environmental Services, Inc., and I’m available for a consultation. Call me at 904-470-2200 or email me at tpooley@esinc.cc

ESI's Wayne Misenar, E.P., Senior Scientist in our Jacksonville office answers our SAR divisions FAQs:

 

What is an Environmental Phase I? 

“A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is an investigation into historical past, as well as current uses of a specific parcel or tract of land to identify possible sources of contamination on the site that may have resulted from either business practices or incidental uses.   The purpose of the investigation is to provide either property owners or prospective buyers, usually associated with intended or pending transactions involving the site, innocent land owner defenses in accordance with EPA accepted national standards to limit their liability.  A wide assortment of available historical records that typically date at least back to the 1940s are utilized by an Environmental Professional to formulate an opinion whether a Phase II ESA, including soil and/or groundwater testing, may be warranted to further determine presence or absence of possible contaminants of concern.  A Phase I ESA report is provided to document the steps taken in the investigation, the findings, and conclusions with recommendations for further actions, if any."

Are Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) required?  "Short answer…..NO.  There is no legal requirement. Longer answer…..There are no existing requirements that dictate the need for a Phase I ESA; however, most all lenders will require at least some level of assessment, usually a Phase I ESA to provide for their own protection and peace of mind.  Otherwise, the completion of a Phase I ESA simply provides an extra level of relatively low cost insurance protection against future liability." 

Are there any other forms of Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) besides just Phase I?    "Yes, for those that simply are interested in an extra level of peace of mind before entering into a business transaction involving the transfer of property where a lender is not requiring a Phase I ESA, a more cost effective means for possible contamination assessment includes a Records Search Risk Assessment (RSRA).  The RSRA, at usually about half the cost of a Phase I ESA, includes a desk top review of current regulatory agency database records as well as a review of all the historical research normally included in a standard Phase I ESA.  For a small additional fee an on-site reconnaissance of the property can also be included for an extra level of investigation."

What specific business risks are included in a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) investigation?    "The national standard used by any reputable Environment Professional (ASTM Standard Practice for Phase I Environmental Site Assessment E-1527-13) specifically includes petroleum products and hazardous materials as defined by EPA.    Other business risks that are not specifically included may be the presence of asbestos containing materials, mold or other indoor air quality issues, on-site wetlands, cultural or historic resources, threatened/endangers species, or compliance issues to name a few.  Any of these additional service tasks can be separately assessed by ESI staff upon request."

 

ESI's Historian, Meghan Powell, is in beautiful Marathon Florida conducting a structures survey that will help guide the city when it comes to future planning and development. Many of the residents are more than willing to tell their story of the hurricane and the damage, but are quick to talk about how the neighborhoods really came together after the storm to clean up the area. Most of the homes are in good or great condition, although, the homes that are directly on the water took major damage. The residents couldn't be happier to be in Marathon. 

 

We proudly share ESI Savannah's Kristen Deason's article in Southern Tides Magazine, "Bringing Back the Dunes." Kristen shares dune importance and restoration post hurricanes Mathew and Irma on Tybee Island.

https://issuu.com/southerntidesmagazine.com/docs/southern_tides_december_2017/14

ESI has offices in Ohio, North Carolina and Georgia, with it's headquarters located in Jacksonville, Florida. But did you know ESI also works internationally? We are excited to be working in the bush in Africa again and are thrilled to share our sights with you!

ESI's Tony Pooley, from our Jacksonville office teamed with Guy Pinjuv, on our Carbon team to visit Guinea Bissau!

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